Put these things on your summer to-do list: learn how Nikola Tesla lit up the world, or marvel at the contents of a tidepool, or maybe dive deep into a thriller about the fictional "Delta Fever" plague. These are just some of possible adventures in reading included in the June issue of Science Books & Film (SB&F).
SB&F, the AAAS review journal for science materials for all ages, broke with tradition this year and offered two summer reading lists: one featuring nonfiction science books and the other featuring fiction books with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)-related themes.
"We want kids to have a wide range of reading experiences," beyond the nonfiction books that people think of as typical science reading, said Maria Sosa, editor-in-chief of SB&F. "Fiction books with science themes have become more popular, and we see more and more of them published each year. Fiction can help reinforce science learning, but perhaps more importantly, it can help spark imagination and creativity."
Research consistently points to the benefits of summer reading by students. For instance, a 2010 study by researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville showed a significantly higher level of reading achievement in students who received books for summer reading at home. More recently, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester indicated that giving students books at the end of the school year can help stem losses in reading skills during the summer. The same study also showed that children score higher on literacy tests when they can choose their own summer reading.
Administrators, teachers, and parents all have an important role to play in making it easy for kids to keep reading during the summer, Sosa noted. Summer reading lists from schools, summer reading clubs hosted by libraries, and online reading clubs and activities sponsored by publishers, she said, all provide the support that children need to keep learning throughout the summer.
SB&F recommends that teachers and caregivers "make it easy for children to find the books that most appeal to them, but also challenge young readers to be a little adventurous," said Sosa. "Encourage kids who read primarily fiction to read nonfiction and vice versa. Students need exposure to a variety of texts not only to learn, but also to develop a lifelong love of reading."