For Immediate Release 
Friday, May 22, 2009

Illinois State Board of Education Urges Families to Read During Summer Vacation

Studies show summer reading maintains student improvement

SPRINGFIELD - The Illinois State Board of Education is encouraging families to read together during the summer months in order to maintain their children’s reading gains. Studies show children who read through the summer months maintain more of their academic skills and are better prepared when school doors open in the fall.

“Learning and reading shouldn’t stop just because school is out. Summer time reading helps children maintain the gains they’ve made during the school year,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We know that summer time reading can help reduce the achievement gap between children from low and high socioeconomic families and inspire new lifelong learning habits.’’

Studies show that children can sustain their reading gains and improve reading through the summer months. One review of the impact of summer reading found that children can lose up to 60 percent of their skills over a two-month vacation.

Research indicates that struggling learners score significantly higher on standardized tests taken at the beginning of the summer than they do on the same test taken at summer’s end. The loss is particularly evident in reading, and most pronounced among students from low socioeconomic families who may not have access to books.

One resource for many children across the state is the iREAD program, a summer reading program offered for 29 years through the Illinois Library Association (ILA). The program provides libraries with resources developed by Illinois librarians and is one way to ensure that children continue reading through the summer months.

Tens of thousands of children participated in last year’s iREAD program in more than 560 libraries in Illinois as well as several other states. The U.S. Navy and the country of Australia have also adopted Illinois’ iREAD program. This year’s iREAD theme is “Read on the Wild Side.’’

"For nearly thirty years, the Illinois library community has realized the correlation between summer reading and student achievements and responded by providing high quality, low cost resources, program ideas, bibliographies, and incentive products that enable local library staff to motivate children to read," said ILA Executive Director Robert P. Doyle.  "This year's theme 'Read on the Wild Side' is an adaptable fun program for people of all ages and is already being well received across the state."  

Local libraries are ready to help young readers with programs and resources to assist children find books that meet their specific literacy tastes and interests. Studies also show that library programs encourage parents to play greater roles in their children’s literacy development – another factor that leads to reading achievement.

Parents, teachers and students can learn more about the iREAD program at

Some other good reading resources can be found at the following Web sites: