New Survey: Three In Five Parents Don’t Believe Their Own Children Lose Reading Skills Over The Summer

WASHINGTON – Though parents of young children overwhelmingly recognize (90 percent) that most children lose learning and skills they’ve built during the school year over the summer, more than three in five (61 percent) don’t believe that summer reading loss affects their own children, according to a new survey from Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy’s. However, studies show that during the summer months, all children are at risk of losing reading ability gained during the school year.

The results of the survey, conducted by Harris Poll in May among 525 U.S. parents ages 22+ of 5-11 year-olds in school, are made public as Macy’s and RIF launch the 12th annual Be Book Smart campaign to support children’s literacy, giving customers the opportunity to make a difference for children in their communities. Be Book Smart begins June 21, and invites customers nationwide to give $3 at any Macy’s register in-store to help provide a book for a child in need. As a thank you, Macy’s customers get $10 off a purchase of $30 or more, plus 15 or 20 percent off storewide savings. Macy’s will donate 100 percent of every $3 to RIF. The campaign ends July 12. For more information on Be Book Smart, visit

The survey also finds that nearly half of parents of young children (45 percent) across America believe that not all children in the U.S. have access to books over the summer– a critical tool for combating the summer learning slide. Yet studies tell us that more than two-thirds of children living in poverty do not have books in their homes and have limited access to them elsewhere during the summer.

“The unfortunate reality is that many children do not have access to books, especially at home; this is something we take for granted,” said Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO, Reading Is Fundamental. “Thanks to our continued partnership with Macy’s, we are getting more books into the hands of children who need them most, giving them the opportunity to not only build their literacy skills, but also the opportunity to experience the magic and power that books provide.”

Summer is an important time when students can either get ahead or fall behind academically, depending in large part on their resources and opportunities. Students who lose reading ability over the summer rarely catch up. Existing research shows that 75 percent of students who read poorly in third grade, a bench mark year for literacy skill building, remain poor readers in high school. The key to helping children maintain or improve their literacy skills over the summer is providing access to quality books they can choose based on personal interests. When children have lots of interesting books readily available to them, they are motivated, empowered and inspired to read.

“At Macy’s we care deeply about supporting our local communities and inspiring children nationwide to embrace the joy of summer reading,” said Martine Reardon, chief marketing officer, Macy’s. “Be Book Smart offers our customers the opportunity to give back to children in their communities, and thanks to the collective generosity of our customers and associates, we’ve helped to provide more than 10 million books to kids since 2004.”

Additional survey findings include:

  • Roughly two-thirds of parents with young children (65 percent) say reading books during the summer is “extremely important.” This activity was found to be on par with importance of playing outdoors (63 percent).
  • During the school year, on average, parents of young children say their child spends about 5.7 hours a week reading books, on par with time spent using a smartphone or tablet (5.1 hours) or playing video games (4.6 hours).
  • More than half of parents with young children (57 percent) say they will not leave home without a book for their children this summer. Other items parents won’t leave home without include snacks (77 percent), smartphones or tablets (74 percent) and sunscreen (72 percent).
  • More than three in four parents (76 percent) inspire their young child to read during the summer by allowing him/her to select his/her own books. Other forms of inspiration included reading with their child (71 percent) and taking trips to the library (59 percent).

The survey results follow an extensive two-year research study conducted by RIF on the summer learning slide and opportunities for parents, teachers and community organizations to minimize summer learning loss. Read for Success is a program model proven to help children read, grow and learn.

In celebration of this year’s Be Book Smart campaign, RIF and Macy’s are releasing summer reading lists of children’s favorite books to inspire young readers over the summer. The lists include books from RIF’s Multicultural Book Collection, which is funded in part by Macy’s. RIF also has free, onlinesummer reading tips and resources for parents and teachers that include fun ideas to spark laughter and learning this summer. In addition, throughout the Be Book Smart campaign customers can follow RIF on social media and 20 will have the chance to win a $25 Macy’s gift card by posting a picture of their family reading this summer, using @Macys and #BeBookSmart hashtag.

Since 2004, Macy’s has helped raise over $32 million for RIF. Through customer-supported fundraising campaigns, in-store events and volunteer activities, Macy’s has donated funds and resources to further the message of literacy for future success. Macy’s longstanding support has enabled RIF to promote literacy at all levels, from buying books for children, training educators, and providing resources to parents.



This summer reading survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Reading Is Fundamental from May 13-28, 2015 among 525 parents ages 22 and older of children ages 5-11 who are currently attending school. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Michelle Blundell at [email protected] or 202-478-6176.


About Macy’s

Macy’s, the largest retail brand of Macy’s, Inc. (NYSE:M), delivers fashion and affordable luxury to customers at approximately 800 locations in 45 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Guam, as well as to customers in the U.S. and more than 100 international destinations through its leading online store at Via its stores, e-commerce site, mobile and social platforms, Macy’s offers distinctive assortments including the most desired family of exclusive and fashion brands for him, her and home. Macy’s is known for such epic events as Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks® and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®, as well as spectacular fashion shows, culinary events, flower shows and celebrity appearances. Macy’s flagship stores including Herald Square in New York City, Union Square in San Francisco, State Street in Chicago, Dadeland in Miami and South Coast Plaza in southern California are known internationally and leading destinations for visitors. Building on a more than 150-year tradition, and with the collective support of customers and employees, Macy’s helps strengthen communities by supporting local and national charities giving more than $70 million each year to help make a difference in the lives of our customers.

For Macy’s media materials, images and contacts, please visit our online pressroom at


About Reading Is Fundamental® (RIF)

Reading Is Fundamental delivers free books and literacy resources to children and families in economically disadvantaged communities in the United States. By giving children the opportunity to own a book, RIF inspires them to become lifelong readers and achieve their full potential. RIF is leading the way to help minimize the summer learning slide through Read for Success, a proven program model aimed at early elementary students to reduce summer reading loss and improve literacy proficiency all year long. As the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit, RIF has placed 412 million books in the hands of more than 40 million children since it was established in 1966. To learn more and help provide books to kids who need them most, visit


About Harris Poll

Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. Contact us for more information.





Michelle Blundell, for Reading Is Fundamental

202-478-6176; [email protected]


Kelley Tarzian, Macy’s Media Relations Manager

415-393-3248; [email protected]