The lazy, hazy days of summer sound so appealing –except that they have a downside with a summer reading loss.

Your child often loses ground over the summer in reading if you don’t do something about it now.

During those lazy crazy days of summer, when you get lazy you do get hazy.

There are studies showing that students lose 25% of the prior year’s gains by not being in school during the summer. Summer reading loss is extensive.

Now the smartest kids on the planet may not be in school in the summer but you better believe that they are doing something to keep their sharp minds sharp. They will prevent summer reading loss via their activities and additional reading.

They may be in theater camp or counselors. They may be traveling or life-guarding. But whatever they are doing a book, Kindle or Nook is not far behind to prevent summer reading loss. I think that college success is part preparation early on.

I remember when I was in high school and one of my best friends who went to Harvard took a job as a driver for a rich old guy so he could read when waiting for his employer.

I worked at an information counter with a book in my lap below the level of the desktop. We were both part of a group of us going to top tier schools in the fall. Our summer employment added to college success by giving us reading time.

One of the high school English teachers had offered his living room and his insights to prevent summer reading loss once a week the summer before we all went off to college.

So we formed a book club (before there were such things very much.)

That summer we read Catcher in the Rye, Rabbit Run by the late John Updike, Catch 22, and even some Faulkner and Kurt Vonnegut among others.

It was a rich summer intellectually.

We had a blast sitting on the floor eating pizza and debating what we thought about the books we were reading at the rate of one a week. It also kept us together for the summer before we all scattered to Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Smith, Cornell, Brown and Bryn Mawr.

Over time we mostly lost touch (thanks to Facebook, we are back again.)

Classmates have become professors, businessmen, lawyers and social workers.  Most of us have now written books ourselves. One has been on the television show Jeopardy.

All achieved college success and some much beyond and much had to do with the fact that we read books over the summer, and never experienced a summer reading loss.

In the fun environment of that living room we engaged in critical thinking about some of the best literature of our culture at that time (or any time for that matter.)

There was no pressure, no grades, all viewpoints were interesting.  We did not have to give summer reading loss a second thought.

We picked the books (with a little help) and they were ones we had not read at school, nor were we likely to because they were then very contemporary.

Now what we read would be considered “classics of the American genre” to put it in scholarly terms.

But we felt pretty on the edge and actually very cool. In the spirit of the 1960s we showed up shaggy haired and sandaled. But scruffy as we may have been we were setting ourselves up for college success and never allowed ourselves summer reading loss.

I am convinced that the relatively easy transition we all had to our very tough schools came from, in part, having not had a lazy, hazy summer or summer reading loss.

We turned what some might think of as work, into fun.

We kept our minds sharp and our skills in focus before we were immersed in really rigorous college programs where we were expected to read as much as 700 pages a week –or one book per course every week.

We did not let our brains shut down or to lose sight of what we were about to do in the fall and knew instinctively that any summer reading loss would create problems.

While we had a great time (and I still have the books) we did achieve college success. And many years later I again saw that wonderful high school teacher and was able to thank him for the use of his living room and share gratitude for what he gave us all.

It would not be hard to do what we did to prevent summer reading loss.

Here a tips to prevent summer reading loss:

Find a few classmates heading to college in the fall and decide (maybe with the help of a teacher). Or, if you are younger, just find a group heading into the next grade.

Think about the “cool” books of today and what you might not have a chance to read once school starts.

Pick a living room, community center or Starbucks and dig in.

Make your life easier by downloading books to the Nook or Kindle.

Have fun with friends you may or may not see much once school starts and jump start your college experience right now. You will be well on the road to college success.

summer reading loss Dr. Marcia Cantarella is HowToLearn.com’s Official Finish College Expert and the author of I CAN Finish College: The Overcome Any Obstacle and Get Your Degree Guide and a consultant on higher education, access and success.

You can contact her mycantarella( insert @ symbol) icanfinishcollege.com

Dr. Marcia Cantarella is also an expert on preventing summer reading loss.