Preventing the ‘summer slide’

Cirby School, libraries promote summer reading
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Teachers at Cirby Elementary School are encouraging their students to avoid a dangerous occurrence known as “the summer slide.”

This slide contributes to “brain drain,” they said during an assembly June 1. The slide in question is better known as summer learning loss, which affects children who don’t read during those three months in between school years.

“We’re holding our first-ever reading rally to kick off summer reading because reading isn’t just for school,” said Cirby literacy coach Joanne Devine, during the assembly. “It’s for all year long.”

She compared reading to exercising — going to the gym makes people stronger and reading a lot makes better readers.

A student could end up two years behind his peers by the time he reaches sixth grade if he does not read during the summers between grade levels, Devine said. Reading 20 minutes a day will increase a child’s vocabulary by 1,000 words per year.

“You’ve done such a great job improving all year long, we don’t want to let it slide over the summer,” said Principal Karen Quinlan.

She told the kids they should read anywhere and everywhere. One place they can do so is at Cirby’s Summer Camp Read A Lot, a free reading incentive program available three days a week from July 6 to Aug. 11.

More than 20 teachers and volunteers from Cirby Elementary School, Placer Area Reading Council, local high schools and Alliance Church will volunteer their time to help kids with reading.

“With the budget problems our state is facing, most school districts are faced with making some very hard decisions,” Devine said. “Due to budget constraints, many districts are not funding summer school programs. Our teachers have volunteered to teach at Camp Read A Lot without compensation. Our driving ambition is to help our youngest readers get off to a running start in reading and to avoid the summer slide for all of our children.”

During the assembly, teachers demonstrated what happens when kids opt for video games over books. One skit paired gamers versus readers. The readers answered questions about history and science correctly. The gamers did not.

In another skit, a child who attended preschool and whose parents read to her took steps forward, as the child who slacks off on reading and has no parental support took steps back.

Cirby staff sent students home with bags containing books and summer reading calendars with daily activities and reading logs.

Jennifer Bown-Olmedo, of the Downtown Roseville Library, told students about the library’s summer literacy program at all three local branches. This year’s theme is “One world, many stories.”

“We’re going to travel the world through reading, isn’t that great?” Bown-Olmedo said.

The libraries will give every kid who visits a branch a free book from July 18 through Aug. 20.

“There are so many distractions that take away from the pleasures of reading a good book,” Devine said. “We are always working to spark a child’s imagination through books. We are grateful to the Roseville library for coming out to our school to present their program to the students.”

Sena Christian can be reached at


Summer reading statistics
• Low-income kids, by the end of fifth grade, are about 2.5 years behind their more affluent peers. This is mainly due to summer learning loss.
• Students on average score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer than they do on the same tests at the end of the school year
• Reading four or five books during the summer can prevent a decline in a child’s fall reading scores
• Teachers spend an average of four to six weeks re-teaching material that students lost during the summer
Source: Research compiled by Joanne Devine, Cirby Elementary School


Meet the Author: Ann Martin Bowler
5:30 p.m. Monday, June 13
Where: Downtown Roseville Library, 225 Taylor St.
Cost: Free
Info: Summer Reading Club kick-off part with local author of “All About Korea,” “Gecko’s Complaint: A Balinese Folktale” and “Adventures of the Treasure Fleet: China Discovers the World.” For more information, call (916) 774-5221. Visit

Granite Bay Branch Library summer reading program
Program consists of reading incentive and performers/crafts/entertainment programming:
When: Nature’s Critters, 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, June 15. Wild Things!, 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, June 29. Magic with Brian Scott, 2-3 p.m. Wednesday, July 13.
Where: Granite Bay Branch Library, 6475 Douglas Blvd.
Cost: Free
Info: Call (916) 791-5590 or visit