The Impact of Summer Reading Programs

Dominican University, in collaboration with IMLS and several state libraries, recently released a final report on their extensive study of the educational impact of summer reading programs in public libraries. It's a compelling, evidence-based study that all librarians should memorize the key points from! Additional links, and the executive summary of the Dominican study, at the <a href="">Delaware Libraries Blog</a>


The study has already drawn one adverse comment from one of our blog readers, so anyone who wants to rise to the defense is welcome to visit the Delaware blog and make their argument!

I believe summer reading is a fantastic thing, so I had high hopes when I heard about this study. After having read the entire thing, I don’t think it says much, really. As far as I can tell, all it really shows is that kids who are better at reading are better at reading, and we have no idea if summer reading makes any difference whatsoever.

Summer reading participants raise their test scores more than non-participants. However, these kids are also more likely to be female, higher income, more books in the homes – in other words, the groups we would expect to be reading more and making more gains in reading anyway. I did not see in the report where any of those factors were accounted for.

I'm a few months late, but finally read this study. In the July 26 comment above, Anonymous mis-read the report. Non-participant scores increased 3 times the level of the summer reading participants. And the non-participants made greater gains--possibly because the good readers who attended summer programs had scores that were starting to max out for their grade level. This and other aspects of the study make its findings inadequate for concluding that summer reading programs work. For sure, nothing in the study demonstrates summer reading programs "close the reading gap" because the participants in the study weren't the children who suffer from this gap! More explanation appears here:

Ray Lyons
Cleveland, OH

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