Summer Reading: An Opportunity for Student Growth

Summer Reading: An Opportunity for Student Growth

Long before the school year ends, district leaders plan for continued student learning over the summer, whether through formal on-site programs or partnerships with families to support literacy at home. Regardless of the students’ summer agenda, research shows there is an opportunity to accelerate learning and foster a love for reading during the break. 

So, how can district leaders leverage summer as an opportunity to accelerate learning?

Why is Summer Reading Important?

Dr. Paul von Hippel on Summer Learning

A large body of research around summer reading and learning suggests that learning becomes stagnant during the summer for some students, particularly if access to engaging books diminishes and even more so for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds (Alexander, Entwisle, & Olson, 2007).  

In a recent Science of Reading Symposium, Dr. Paul von Hippel, Professor at the University of Texas at Austin, reimagined how we view summer, not as a threat of loss but as an opportunity to maximize learning. 

In addition to reinforcing skills developed during the school year, studies found that summer reading offers numerous benefits:

  • Enhanced cognitive development and academic performance
  • Strengthened proficiency in fundamental reading skills such as phonemic awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary, and fluency
  • Increased motivation to explore new topics that build background knowledge

How Can Districts Accelerate Summer Learning? 

Whether students participate in on-site summer school programs or read-at-home initiatives, Dr. von Hippel emphasizes the importance of using these five steps and consistent daily practice to ensure students maximize their learning opportunities during summer.


 Provide engaging, high-quality books for students to read in summer school programs and at home.

James Kim on summer learning

Providing students access to engaging books they can decode is key to a successful summer learning experience. 

Suppose districts can’t provide on-site summer school programs. In that case, some studies conclude that giving engaging books to students and families to read at home is also an effective approach to accelerating summer learning.

The American Institutes for Research for the Reading Is Fundamental Community Foundation conducted a meta-analysis of 108 studies on the impacts of providing free books to students to read at home.The findings suggest there are numerous advantages to this method (McGill-Franzen, A., Ward, N. & Cahill, M., 2016):

  • Acceleration of development of emergent reading skills
  • Increase in reading proficiency
  • Improved attitudes towards reading
  • Increase reading time due to increased volume of books available

Dr. von Hippel cautions that it’s often easy to overestimate what kind of access to books students have. In many instances, if there are books in homes, they aren’t necessarily engaging or at the student’s independent reading level.

That’s whereJust Right Reader Take-Everywhere Decodable Packs come in. 

Use Just Right Reader Take-Everywhere Decodable Packs to amplify summer school programs and encourage reading at home.

Student opening a pack of Just Right Reader Decodables for summer reading

Just Right Reader Take-Everywhere Decodable Packs provide personalized phonics practice extending beyond the classroom, strengthening school-home partnerships. Grounded in the Science of Reading research and mapped to a rigorous phonics progression, our decodables provide students numerous opportunities to practice foundational reading skills in an engaging and meaningful experience.

By integrating Just Right Reader Science of Reading Decodables into summer school programs, district leaders provide teachers with:

  • high-quality instructional materials
  • comprehensive support and resources from Just Right Reader
  • engaging decodable books carefully crafted to meet the unique needs of each student

Whether district leaders opt for
Skill Review Take-Everywhere Decodable Packs, designed to reinforce grade-level learning over the summer, orSchool Break Take-Everywhere Decodable Packs, ideal for summer school programs, students expand their at-home libraries with decodables they can relate to and are motivated to read. Families can also actively engage in their child's literacy journey through QR codes linking to video phonics lessons.

Our Take-Everywhere Decodable Packs Feature:

Just Right Reader Take-Home Packs
  • Science of Reading decodables personalized for each student based on district reading assessment data.
  • Writing pages to reinforce decoding and writing skills.
  • Research-based activities that motivate students to read and keep reading.
  • QR codes to access fun phonics lessons in English and Spanish to support students and families reading at home.
  • Backpacks for students to take their reading everywhere.
  • Packs wrapped in colorful wrapping paper to provide a joyful literacy experience.

Additional Strategies for Optimizing Summer Learning

Dr. Paul von Hippel recommends three steps to ensure summer learning success. [01:15]


Dr. Lucy Hart Paulson, LETRS Co-Founder and Professor of Education at Stanford University, explains how caregivers, families, and teachers can keep students reading over the summer by engaging in conversations around reading. [01:59]


Learn how a school district in Florida successfully implemented Just Right Reader Take-Everywhere Decodable Packs into their summer reading program.

Hillsborough County Public Schools partners with Just Right Reader


Amplify Your Summer Reading Program with Just Right Reader Decodables!

Meet with our team to learn how Just Right Reader decodables can enhance summer learning in your district.

Watch Dr. Paul von Hippel’s Science of Reading Symposium on Summer Learning here.


     Alexander, K.L., Entwisle, D.R., & Olson, L.S. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap.American Sociological Review, 72(2), 167–180.

      Dr. von Hippel, Paul. Professor at The University of Texas at Austin.

Symposium on The Opportunity of Summer Learning, February 21, 2024.

     McGill-Franzen, A., Ward, N. & Cahill, M. (2016). Summers: Some Are Reading, Some Are Not! It Matters. The Reading Teacher, 69(6), 585–596. doi:10.1002/trtr.1461

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