“Few things leave a deeper mark on the reader,
than the first book that finds its way to his heart.”
– Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Kids Read Now (KRN) uses many techniques and methods to reverse the summer reading slide. Crucially, unlike most summer reading programs and based on professional research, children need to select their own books. When they do they are 3 times more likely to read them (R. Allington 2005). That’s why we not only allow, but encourage every student to self-select books they will want to, love to, and be able to read independently over summer. Summer is a unique time for reinforcing skills and building reading stamina. It’s a time when structured reading support by a teacher is rarely present.
Over 90% of students in the KRN program choose their own titles, and on average, just 31% of children pick books at their grade level.
Dr. Kelly Moran, a regional Curriculum Director in Ohio notes, “Children will often pick a book below their grade because it is familiar, a topic they like, or one they will feel comfortable reading. Conversely, students often select a higher level due to aspiration, keeping up with peers, or a desire to read more on the topic.”
KRN Literacy Director Barbara Lurie, M.Ed, pointed at the Wish List of titles offered and noted “Children in lower grades will often select what KRN labels as ‘Read To Me’ books; those with harder vocabulary but lower grade topics, where parents are encouraged to read them to and with their children.”
Dr. Paul Von Hippel, noted literacy researcher, (and KRN board member) points out that “If you give every child the same summer reading, it’s going to be too easy for some and too hard for others. By the end of first grade the top third of readers have reached a level that the bottom third won’t read until the end of second grade And I’m not talking about children in different schools. 85 percent of the variation in reading skill lies between children attending the very same school.”
This gap has grown from 1.7 years pre-pandemic, as many, mostly high poverty students fell behind due to remote learning; and others with strong in-home technology and support were able to grow.”
This expanded skill gap makes it harder than ever for teachers to provide appropriate support for every child in the class; and is one more reason educators appreciate the turnkey approach from KRN. Being able to select books that are appropriate, fun, and likable, even if above or below ‘grade level’ is a cornerstone for successful summer reading programs.
NOTE: for most students, the grade level of books selected is usually below or above their actual grade.