Reader's View: This summertime, make time for reading

Senator Daphne Jordan

June 01, 2019

Originally published in Saratogian on June 01, 2019.

The countdown has begun!

Just a handful of school weeks remain. Soon, instead of being in the classroom, kids will be outdoors, doing what kids do: enjoying the summer weather and long days of fun with family and friends. For many, summer will be filled with running, racing, recreation and relaxing, and rightly so.

Make time for the other “Big R” – Reading

Summertime is also the right time for the other big “R” – reading. In fact, it could be one of the most important times for parents and their children to emphasize reading together and continue developing crucial literacy skills.

According to the non-profit literacy advocacy organization, Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), summer is a CRITICAL time when students can either leap ahead – or fall behind – in terms of their reading skills. Founded in 1966, RIF is the leading voice for children’s literacy, and, in partnership with a grassroots network of 1 million volunteers in schools and communities nationwide, has distributed more than 415 million books, and positively influenced the lives of more than 50 million children.

Avoiding the “summertime slide”

The following are some statistics from RIF’s website ( about why it is so important to make time during the summertime for reading:

During the summer months, all children are at risk of losing some of the learning obtained during the school year;
More than 80 percent of children from economically disadvantaged communities lose reading skills over the summer because they lack access to books, learning resources, and such enrichment opportunities as trips to the library, bookstore, or museum;
Students who lose reading ability over the summer rarely catch up; and
Over time, the “summer learning slide” can add up to the equivalent of three years of reading loss by the end of fifth grade.

Reading: A cornerstone in the foundation of learning

It is almost impossible to overstate the importance of literacy. As noted by RIF, of all children in the United States:

34 percent of children entering kindergarten lack the basic skills needed to learn how to read;
63 percent of fourth graders read below grade level, contributing to 8,000 students dropping out of high school every day; and
37 percent of students graduate high school at or above reading proficiency.

These statistics are a wake-up call as to the necessity of reading in terms of achieving success in school, career, and life.

Reading is for EVERYBODY

Literacy development isn’t just for kids; adults also need to make time for reading. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 93 million adults in the United States read at, or below, the basic level needed to contribute successfully in society. We can, and we must, do better! Literacy is a cause near and dear to my heart because I have seen how reading transforms lives. Before my election to the Senate, I served as a Trustee, member of the Executive Committee, and as Treasurer for our wonderful Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library and launched a successful summertime reading program for youths.

Enroll in my Summer Reading Program

To prevent the summertime slide in reading skills and promote literacy, I encourage parents reading this column to sign their children up for my 2019 Summer Reading Program. This is a free initiative for parents to record their child’s summertime reading with the goal of kids reading three books before the end of summer (September 3, 2019). Parents may enroll their child in my program and use an online form located at to keep track of their reading progress. For some great book suggestions, visit (and look for “booklists”), or stop by one of our fabulous public libraries.

Every child who completes my Summer Reading Program will receive a New York Senate Certificate of Achievement celebrating this accomplishment. Go to my Senate website – – for more details on my 2019 Summer Reading program. Happy summertime reading!

Contact and connect with me

If I can help, call me at (518) 455-2381, e-mail me at, visit my Senate webpage at, or stop by my office: Room 508 LOB, Albany, NY 12247. You can also connect with me on Facebook (Senator Daphne Jordan), Instagram (Senator_Jordan) and Twitter (NY Senator Jordan).

NYS Senator Daphne Jordan serves as the Ranking Minority Member on the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee and represents the 43rd Senate District that includes parts of Rensselaer, Saratoga and Washington counties and all of Columbia County.