The Summer Slide and What One Library is Doing to Fight It

July 21, 2022

Experts suggest summer learning loss – also known as the summer slide – can lead to students losing up to one-third of the coursework they learned during the school year. It’s a statistic that has one public library working to support student learning year-round.

Summer break is often bursting with sounds of kids letting loose, families enjoying each other’s company, and friends spending adventure-laden days in the sun. Summertime in many households means school’s out and schoolwork is not in.

However, some researchers say fun-filled summer days that don’t include learning opportunities can turn into an uphill battle when kids return to classrooms in the fall.

What is the Summer Slide?

The summer slide is most simply defined as a loss of knowledge or academic skills due to the extended break from school that students experience during the summer. Students of all ages, grade levels, and backgrounds could be vulnerable to the summer slide.

According to experts at, students could lose up to 34% of what they learned before starting summer break. Researchers say that means kids who slip down the summer slide could potentially lose about a month’s worth of classroom learning.

But keeping students on their toes and ready for the next academic year has driven one public library to take steps to ensure kids in their community are supported all summer long.

Oh, the Summertime Possibilities

Danny Gillane serves as the Library Director at the Lafayette Public Library System in Lafayette, Louisiana. The director said supporting kids in his Parish is a two-fold effort that incorporates his local school district.

“We had problems getting library cards in the hands of kids, so we partnered up with the public school system. If you are enrolled in a public school, you have a virtual library card,” Gillane said. “We have a summer reading program that’s called Oceans of Possibilities, and we set a community goal of 2,000,000 words read,” he added.

Gillane said having a catalog enriched by features found in Syndetics Unbound like Series and You May Also Like, is key to his summer program’s success. “The thing that I liked about Syndetics Unbound – and I stand by it – is its discovery aspect. It helps a lot and exposes parts of our collection that might not have been exposed,” he said.

Level Up Your Summer Reading Program

Abby Blachly is the head librarian at LibraryThing and is on the Syndetics Unbound product team. She suggests librarians should consider Syndetics Unbound’s Reading Level feature when building their summer reading programs.

Syndetics Unbound provides three different ways to approach reading level: publisher recommended age and grade, the Metametrics Lexile® Framework for Reading, and Accelerated Reader.

“The Reading Level enrichment helps librarians figure out if a book is right for a given child,” Blachly said, “and also gives them a tool to explore other books around the same range, right within the library catalog.”

Blachly also pointed out that Reading Level helps parents better understand how to support their children’s success. “Using Syndetics Unbound’s Reading Level element, you can choose a book for each child that’s just right for their reading level – challenging, without being overwhelming,” she added.

Support Students in Your Community

Libraries act as spaces where learning is reinforced and educational goals are supported. Syndetics Unbound gives its subscribers access to more than 15 enrichments that make their catalogs more discoverable and engaging so that patrons can expand their learning opportunities.