This post is part two of a summer reading series written by literacy consultant Patty McGee.
We want our readers to read widely over the summer, and enjoy every moment of it. We hope they pick up books that keep the love of reading burning bright all summer long. While students are making their reading plans, consider the following tips:
Offer choice. Summer reading is a time for readers to choose what they will read to keep that passion alive! We can say “go for it!” when we see plans for one those books that may seem less desirable. First of all, the study mentioned in the previous post from Richard Allington found that it did not matter what books students read, it matters THAT they read. We all know readers are more apt to read a book of their choosing, especially those that are a little less “acceptable” in the classroom. I admit, I read one Janet Evanovich book every summer! Readers should be encouraged to read whatever they are drawn to as well.
Use a few teasers. One of my favorite ways to help readers connect to books is by using a “teaser.” Think of a teaser before a favorite program, that small snippet of what is to come and keeps us hanging around for more. We can do the same with books. Select a few books and a small section of the book. Read them aloud to your students ending at just the moment they must know more. This teaser makes these books the most popular to pick up and helps round out those reading plans.
Host a book social. One more approach to help readers plan for the summer is to capitalize on what we grown ups do when selecting books– we ask others for their suggestions. This can happen in the classroom by hosting a book social, perhaps with other classes on your grade level, and asking each student to bring in a few of their favorite books, especially those that are not as well known or popular. Provide time for readers to meet with each other to share their recommendations with one another in a “cocktail party” sort of experience where students can mingle to share, listen, and jot down any books they may want to read this summer.
Prep the classroom library for the following year’s class. Asking your students to prepare the library for next year’s class will take them both on a walk down memory lane, remind them of all their reading throughout the school year, and show them the many other books that they could have picked up and may want to over the summer. This type of reflection will help all of that beautiful learning from the year stick even better so that it has the potential to sustain summer reading while at the same time taking one summer task off your list.
Go beyond the traditional list of books. Oftentimes readers are sent home with a list of books to read in the summer based on grade level or reading level. It often looks pretty clinical and uninviting. It does not have to be. Take a look at the summer reading flyer Laura Gavilanes shares with her seventh graders. It goes way beyond a traditional summer reading list– a crisp, inviting selection tool that reflects student interests and entices readers into books. An easy, free tool to use to creates something similar to this is on Google Drive–Lucidpress where you can design up to three pages for free.
Our next post will share ideas for staying connected in the summer to keep that reading spark alive.