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summer reading challenge, may 6 - august 21, 2019

About the Summer Challenge

Children who don't read during the summer lose months of reading and cognitive skills gained during the school year. We call this loss "summer slide." Summer reading loss is cumulative. Children don't catch up in the fall because the other children are moving ahead with their skills.

Why is the Summer Challenge important?

By the end of 6th grade, children who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates. Numerous studies have shown that reading over the summer prevents summer reading loss. Reading 4 or 5 books over the summer can have a significant impact for middle school readers.

The Summer Challenge aims to help decrease "summer slide" by offering fun programs at the library that encourage children, teens, and adults to complete literacy, cultural, and community activities to earn prizes. Registration forms and activity logs for the program are available in several languages.

Return on Investment

Return on Investment Chart

In his 2005 article, "What is a summer worth?" (Texas Library Journal, Summer 2005), Steve Brown employed a budgetary formula to demonstrate the dollar value of summer reading. NPL used data from the Tennessee Department of Education’s "Report Card" to apply Brown's methods to our own city.

Dollar value of summer reading program participation in Nashville (using Tennessee State Department of Education data from 2012 and a ten-month school year):

  • $11,012 (average annual cost to educate a K-12 student in Davidson County schools)
  • 2/10 (two months of remedial teaching, which is required to catch up students after summer slide)
  • 1/3 (assuming that reading skills are approximately 1/3 of the skills lost during the summer)
  • $11,012 X 2/10 X 1/3 = $734.00 per summer reader

In 2013, just over 7,200 students at Metro Nashville Public Schools participated in summer reading. The total project budget was $30,000.

  • 7,296 x $734 = $5,355,264
  • $5,355,264 divided by $30,000 = $178.50
  • Return on investment per summer reader: $178.50

Become a Sponsor!

Are you a business interested in learning about how you can support summer reading in your community? Contact Lisa at

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