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Britney Spears and Summer Learning

Getting kids to read during the summer—even if they're reading about Britney Spears—is a crucial way of fighting summer learning loss and cultivating their future interest in reading, according to a study covered in The New York Times.

"One of the most notable findings of the study was that children improved their reading scores even though they typically weren't selecting the curriculum books or classics that teachers normally assign for summer reading. That conclusion confirms other studies suggesting that children learn best when they are allowed to select their own books," the Times reports.

In a study that tracked the reading habits of more than 1,300 Florida children from 17 low-income schools, researchers found that giving children free books was a cost-effective way to keep their learning on track, the Times said. The researchers also found that the most popular book in the first year of the study was a biography of Britney Spears—perhaps not the title most teachers and parents would have picked. "Teachers and middle-class parents undervalue kids' preferences, but I think we need to give up being so uptight about children's choices in books," one researcher told the newspaper.

Summer learning loss also figures in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette feature story on Pittsburgh's Summer Dreamers Academy, "a five-week literacy and activities camp the district created this year to boost reading and creativity among students in middle grades."

Meanwhile, the Reading Rockets website offers tips to promote summer reading. It's only early August—certainly not too late to check out the noprofit group's recommendations.

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