Mr. Speaker, every summer youth without access to books lose academic skills, while those who are reading continue to make progress in developing their proficiency. Studies show that summer learning loss is a significant cause of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth.
Students from low-income households learn at the same rate as their peers while school is in session, but while middle- and upper-income students show slight gains in their reading performance after the summer months, lower income students experience a two-month loss in reading achievement.
It is what teachers refer to as the ‘‘summer slide’’ or ‘‘summer setback.’’ This loss is cumulative: while teachers spend 4 to 6 weeks re-teaching material to the students who have fallen behind over the summer, other students are progressing with their skills. The result? By the end of the sixth grade, children who lose reading skills during the summer are on average 2 years behind their peers. Even more startling is the conclusion of University of Nevada research, which has shown that students without access to books are less likely to complete their basic education.
The simple fact is that there are fewer opportunities for daily summer reading when both parents are away at work. Without access to books, our kids fall behind. My daughter teaches English at Baylor University. She has dedicated her life to edifying the young people of this country by instilling in them a love for reading, and for the intellectual tradition it gives them access to.
This love needs to start early, and the inheritance of that tradition should be accessible to all Americans. That is why I am proud of the efforts of KHOU and Star Furniture, who are rolling out a new community effort to increase the literacy rate in Houston. They are soliciting donations for the non-profit group ‘‘Books Between Kids,’’ which provides at-risk children with books that they can keep in their home. We need more programs like this in our country.