Read or Perish: The Effects of Summer Reading

As someone who has done a fair amount of research on literacy, I am familiar with the phrase “The Summer Slide”. This phrase illustrates the decline in student knowledge which takes place during Summer Vacation, and has to be re-taught to students the following year. The Madison Public Library in Wisconsin published their version of a public service announcement on this issue stating that primary school students who do not read during the summer are two years behind in reading by the time they go on to middle school.
While the effects of not reading during the summer are well documented among PK-12 students, college students are often ignored in this research. In fact, all college students should commit to some summer reading in order to be well prepared for classes in August.
Buying textbooks ahead of time to look over during the summer break is a good way to prepare yourself for your upcoming classes, and gives you an edge up on assignments since you are familiarized with the material. Familiarizing yourself with the course material is also beneficial in warding off “The Summer Slide” because you will not allow yourself to forget material, and college professors are much less likely to commit half the semester to review than primary and secondary school teachers.
But if spending your summer reading potentially dry material for your classes is not what you are interested in, there are also many benefits to reading just for enjoyment. Statistics show that avid readers are mentally sharp, and exhibit higher levels of cognitive ability. So even reading for enjoyment helps prevent “The Summer Slide” and leaves you prepared for next semester. Neurology Journal also revealed that readers are less likely to experience mental decline with age, and ward off Alzheimer’s disease. Readers also had an average life expectancy of 89 years; the average life expectancy in the United States is 78.4 years, that’s an additional 10.6 years of life just by reading! Reading is also known to make people more empathetic, and can ease stress, ease depression, and improve the ability to sleep.
These benefits will not only leave you better prepared for the fall, but will leave you better prepared in life. The consequences of not reading are great. So get reading this summer! (A summer reading list is to follow!)

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