By Michelle Talsma Everson

A recent study of children in the third to fifth grades showed that students lost an average of 20 percent of their school year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school year gains in math during summer break, according to With this school year already disrupted due to COVID-19, experts note that now, more than ever before, it’s crucial to encourage students of all ages to read during the summer.

One local resource for busy families is the Read On Arizona website at On the website, you can use the “Find a Book” tool to find books that meet your child’s interest and reading level; use a reading log to track time spent reading; and find other helpful educational resources.

Another resource for families includes Read Across America’s Kids Summer Reading List website at Here, families can find an array of reading resources, book recommendations, and parenting tips. Some ideas include joining the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, where you receive digital rewards, or the Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program, where young readers can earn a free book after reading eight books.

What can parents do to help reverse the “Summer Slide” (when children lose their reading and math skills over the summer)? recommends that parents allow children to read the books they’re most interested in; make time for “smart play,” such as games and puzzles; allow kids to use their imagination through imaginative play such as LEGO, etc.; and join a summer reading program at your local library.

The Scottsdale Library’s Summer Reading Program, Imagine Your Story, take place now through August 1. People of all ages can sign up online and earn points for every minute they read. Game boards for children can be picked up at the drive-thru windows of Appaloosa, Arabian and Mustang Libraries, curbside at Civic Center Library, or parents can download and print out game boards through the website. Prize packs for the completion of the program will be available later in the summer. More information and details on how to sign up can be found at

“This year’s Summer Reading Program is more important than ever for kids since they have spent the last quarter learning online,” says Jennifer Wong-Ortiz, community engagement and outreach coordinator at Scottsdale Public Library.

“Parents can model this behavior by signing up themselves and reading daily with their kids. Simply spending 20 minutes a day reading will help maintain the reading abilities and skills that will prepare kids to go back to school in the fall.”