The summer period can be a great time to relax and recharge for students, and your child is likely looking forward to any number of activities without the responsibility of maintaining a school schedule. With that being said, it is critical to think about your student’s academic progress even during their breaks from school. Depending on how your student chooses to spend their summer vacation, their reading level has the potential to either regress or progress by several months. That’s why devoting time to summer reading – including what is assigned by your child’s school and what they read for their own enjoyment – is so important!

What is summer slide, and should I be worried about it?

Summer slide refers to learning loss resulting from children not engaging in any educational activities or materials over their summer vacation. A recent study found that students grades 1-8 lose between 17-34% of their learning from the previous school year during their summer break. In fact, studies dating back as far as the 1980s have confirmed this phenomenon across the board, and students who fall behind one summer are likely to widen that gap even more as time passes.

Summer slide applies to a student’s reading, writing, and spelling levels; Professor Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and his colleagues found that students who read over the summer typically gain two-to-three months of reading development, and that students who do not read at all end up losing a month of progress. Reading is like a sport in this way – progress can be made by making time for regular practice, but skipping that practice can result in measurable regression.

Summer slide is especially concerning for students who are already struggling with reading and at risk of losing more ground. Regardless of your child’s reading level, they should make a plan to read regularly over the summer to maintain their hard work from the previous school year.

How can I encourage my child to read more?

For many of our more reluctant readers, persuading them to read more regularly is certainly easier said than done!

With that in mind, there are a couple of changes both you and your student can make in an effort to incorporate more reading into the family routine. Your student is likely to emulate your own habits, so make sure to show your own love of reading by putting books on display at home, talking about books with your children, and reading for pleasure in front of them. Show your student that reading is a hobby, not a chore or a tiresome requirement. You can also start a book club with your student’s friends, or try reading a book as a family before watching its TV or movie adaptation.

On a similar note, we recommend trying to frame reading as a fun activity that can involve family and friends. Take your student on an outing to the local library and make it an adventure! We’d also recommend checking out the Houston Public Library’s “Oceans of Possibilities” summer reading program as a way to further gamify reading and routine trips to the library.

How can I pick the right summer reading books for my child?

For elementary-aged students, we recommend following the five-finger rule.

As your student reads the first page of their new book, have them hold up a finger for every word that they don’t know the meaning of. If they are holding up more than five fingers by the end of the first page, the book may be too challenging and it may not be an appropriate choice at that time. Alternatively, if your student is not holding up any fingers, it may be worth considering a more challenging book to meet them where they’re at.

That being said, each child is different, and we definitely recommend flexibility with the above rule. A more ambitious and motivated child may be able to enjoy and appreciate a book even if it’s too difficult according to the five-finger rule. Additionally, it’s important to strike a balance in making reading both enjoyable and challenging for your child. If your child is enjoying literature by re-reading books, or if they love reading a particular series that is meant for younger students, don’t be afraid to count that as a win in the long run!

What are Houston students reading this summer?

Here’s a chart of example books to pick for your child based on a variety of factors (and we’ve included more information about Lexile down below):

wdt_ID Book Title Author Publication Year Genre Lowest Age (Interest Level) Highest Age (Interest Level) Highest Summer Reading Grade Lexile Level
1 Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs Katherine Applegate 2008 General Literature 5 8 2 550
2 Narwhal's School of Awesomeness Ben Clanton 2021 Animals, Bugs, & Pets 6 9 2 120
3 I Am Enough Grace Byers 2019 General Literature 4 8 2 400
4 Little Roja Riding Hood Susan Middleton Elya 2014 Traditional Stories 5 8 2 540
5 Cape Kevin Johnson 2023 Real Life 4 8 2 350
6 Counting On Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 Helaine Becker 2018 Science & Technology 8 10 4 710
7 The Losers Club Andrew Clements 2017 Real Life 8 10 4 860
8 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl 1988 General Literature 8 12 4 810
9 Becoming Muhammad Ali James Patterson 2020 Hobbies, Sports, & Outdoors 9 13 4 1,010
10 Mr. Popper's Penguins Richard & Florence Atwater 1966 Animals, Bugs, & Pets 6 9 4 910
Author Publication Year Genre Lowest Age (Interest Level) Highest Age (Interest Level) Highest Summer Reading Grade Lexile Level

This chart includes books featured by the Houston Area Independent Schools Library Network, the Texas Bluebonnet List, the Texas 2×2 List, as well as our own recommendations from General Academic. We recommend taking a variety of components into account when selecting books for your student, including genre, typical age range, typical grade level, and Lexile Level (otherwise known as the Lexile Framework for Reading).

What is the Lexile Framework for Reading?

The Lexile Framework for Reading is an educational tool that is used by educators and parents alike to match readers with books, articles, and other written pieces that are the best fit for them. Primarily, it includes two different types of measurement: the Lexile reading measure and the Lexile text measure.

The Lexile Reading Measure

Your child’s Lexile reading measure is an indicator of their current reading level. Each Lexile level will always be shown as a number with an “L” after it, and the higher the number, the higher the student’s reading level. The only exception is any score below 0L; these scores are assessed as BR, or Beginner Reader.

Your child’s Lexile reading measure is typically included on school or state assessments, like the STAAR for students in Texas. Below, we’ve included a snapshot of an example STAAR Report Card as well as the location where you can expect to find your student’s Lexile score.

Sample STAAR Report Card

If you don’t know your child’s Lexile reading measure and don’t have a copy of their most recent STAAR Report Card, be sure to ask their teacher for clarification.

We’ve also included the Lexile chart for students grades K-8 below, and the data incorporates the 25th and 75th percentile of students at the end of their spring semester. For the purposes of this table, we have replaced “BR” (or “Beginner Reader”) with a negative symbol.

Lexile Chart: K-8 (EOY Spring)

wdt_ID Grade 25th 75th
1 K -310 -5
2 1 -35 365
3 2 245 605
4 3 480 810
5 4 700 1,005
6 5 795 1,100
7 6 875 1,180
8 7 940 1,250
9 8 1,000 1,310
Grade 25th 75th

In general, we recommend keeping track of your student’s Lexile reading measure over their time in elementary and middle school, as this can be a good way for you to track their progress year-over-year, as well as their reading level compared to other students in their grade.

The Lexile Text Measure

The second form of measurement is the Lexile text measure, which applies to over 100 million books, articles, and websites. These texts receive a reading difficulty score depending on their vocabulary and literary complexity. Broadly speaking, books with longer sentences and less common words are given a higher Lexile text measure, while books with shorter sentences and more common words are given a lower Lexile text measure.

Understanding How to Use Lexile Measures

Using the Lexile Framework for Reading can help you and your student choose texts that are at an appropriate level for them. In general, a book that is a good fit for your student’s reading level (or at their “sweet spot”) is one that has a text measure from 100L below to 50L above your student’s reported Lexile reading measure.

For example, the Greek mythology adaptation Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, which has a Lexile level of 630L, would fall into the “sweet spot” for students with a reading level ranging from 580L-730L.

Again, we recommend considering Lexile measurements in the context of other factors, including typical age range for the book as well as your child’s interests and hobbies.

Not Sure Where to Start? We Can Help!

Our Elementary Learning Program (ELP) provides the structured support your grade 1-5 child needs to advance their core skills in reading, writing, and math. ELP students typically meet for an hour each time, with 30 minutes dedicated to reading and writing. Our tutors are trained to get to know their students and help them choose books that are a good fit for them in terms of both interest and difficulty level. During each session, our tutors help students read passages in a way that is intentional and methodical, using skills that are critical for students to excel on the ISEE, the SAT, and other standardized tests of reading comprehension. We also assign reading materials for homework, ensuring that your student gets acclimated to reading independently.

For your students in grade 6 and above, we offer subject prep in all subject areas, including reading, writing, and vocabulary. No matter how old your child is, we’ll make sure their tutoring is tailored to their specific reading level, personality, and other academic needs.


  • Ashley Chang

    Ashley Chang is General Academic's Assistant Manager. She graduated from Millsaps College, where she received her BA in History in 2020. Prior to joining General Academic, Ashley was a high school history teacher as well as an aide in various elementary school classrooms. Ashley has also completed Rice's College Access Counseling Certificate Program.

    View all posts