Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Consultant

Elementary educators and caregivers of elementary-aged children are all too familiar with the phenomenon of the “summer slide.” The term describes the decline in academic achievement many students experience over the summer months. One of the primary ways families can avoid the summer slide is to read aloud every day. It’s the perfect opportunity to expose children to diverse perspectives while reinforcing hard-won skills learned during the school year.

Don’t know where to start? As you head to your local library, make sure Welcoming Schools recommended books are on your list. Check out our top 10 books, or search by topic: LGBTQ-inclusivity, family diversity, preventing bullying, and understanding gender. These books are perfect summer reads and can be paired with enriching experiences. Here are a few to get you started:

1) Combine a visit to the zoo with perennial favorite And Tango Makes Three, the story of male penguin couple Roy and Silo at Central Park Zoo who, with the help of a friendly zookeeper, are able to welcome a baby chick of their own.

2) See a local children’s theater production (check your community’s parks and recreation department for free offerings), but first read Amazing Grace. Grace is the plucky protagonist in this classic about an African American girl who wants to play Peter Pan.

3) Before feeding the ducks at the local pond, share Elmer’s story in The Sissy Duckling with your child. Elmer is not like the other boy ducklings. He likes to bake cakes and put on puppet shows by himself, but in the end, he proves that the biggest “sissy” can be the biggest hero.

Making reading part of your daily summer schedule will help your child maintain and improve their literacy skills. When you integrate books about inclusivity, you ensure they’ll start the school year ready not just in mind, but in heart, too.

HRC's Welcoming Schools is the nation's premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools in embracing family diversity, creating LGBTQ-inclusive schools, preventing bias-based bullying, creating gender-expansive schools, and supporting transgender and non-binary students.

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