This post is written by literacy consultant Patty McGee.
Perhaps you agree– summertime is the best reading time of all. However, many students look at summer as a time to take a break from reading. Research has shown, specifically for lower socioeconomic students, that the summertime can cause a significant decline in reading achievement. The good news is that this decline is very easily offset by simply reading a minimum four books a summer, and this same research has shown that if twelve books are read, there will be a gain in reading skills from spring to fall (Allington, 2010). This sounds so do-able! Especially if we help set our readers up to continue reading in the summertime.
Planning ahead, as we all know, can make a world of difference in most things, and especially summer reading. So, take some time at the end of the year– a few days at least– for readers to create their own summer reading plan. This is a plan that your readers should take with them into summer and should be shared with their parents in hopes of extra support at home. This plan should also be designed to set readers up so that they look ahead to summer reading with anticipation and excitement. Your students reading plans may include:
A moment of reflection on the type of reader they are and the sorts of books they love. Perhaps you have an action/adventure reader who reads best in the evenings, or a graphic novel reader who reads most consistently when they set a page goal every day. Knowing themselves well as readers helps make the most of the summer.
Wishes and possibilities for books they wish to read. This may include books they wanted read this year but never were able to, a series they have started, a new book coming out this summer that they are eager to have in their hands, a mixture of nonfiction and fiction texts, including digital and print text, in any format.
Places and times they plan on reading. When there is a scheduled time to read, it becomes a habit or a very natural part of their day.
Goals for how much they will read and when reading will fit in. Goal setting helps anyone stretch and grow. Keeping a summer goal in mind builds the stamina and desire to keep reading.
Plans to connect to other readers over the summer to talk about books. Summer reading does not have to be lonely. Planning to read books that others are reading and meeting up to talk about them keeps those readers motivated and connected.
Tips for themselves when they find they have not read as much as they wished or hoped. In every plan there is the potential that something does not go as planned. A reading plan can have tips to tackle those tricky parts. (i.e. pick that book back up and reread to reconnect, bring the book everywhere to take advantage of every reading moment possible, etc.)