Top 10 Ideas to Promote Summer Reading by Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan

When we were browsing through Time magazine, we came across this quote:


“A recent study from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the average American spends only 19 minutes a day reading; young people read less than ever, apparently, with people ages 25 to 34 reading eight minutes a day on weekends and holidays, while those 20 to 24 average around 10.”


These numbers are startling.   We want to help students bring the love of reading they develop in school outside the classroom walls.   We wonder:


  • How can we help readers keep reading when school is no longer in session?
  • How can we help readers sustain reading when we are not organizing their time?
  • How can we help students make reading a priority in their lives?


With summer just a few weeks away, we have an opportunity to impact these statistics by fostering and encouraging the habit of summer reading.  Perhaps by showing students how to make reading plans for home they will become readers who read far more than 19 minutes a day.   So here are our top 10 ideas to support students in making a plan for summer reading:


  1. Take Students on a Field Trip to the Public Library

When students visit the public library and meet the librarian in his/her space it can have a lasting impact.   During this field trip, teachers and librarians point out where specific books are located, show children how to find the books they love, and tell students about summer events at the library.   If you can’t get to the library, creating videotape is the next best thing.  We take footage of the shelves so students can see how many reading opportunities are waiting for them at the library.


  1. Share your Summer Reading Plans

Students need models to understand that readers make plans.   We show students the stack of books we plan to read over the summer and share our excitement about participating in Donalyn Miller’s #bookaday challenge.   Sharing our summer reading plans becomes a springboard for students to think about their own reading plans.


  1. Show Students How to Plan When They Will Read

We encourage students to talk with their families/caregivers about summer plans.  When will they be at home?  When will they be away?  Will they be with relatives?  Do they go to camp?   The calendar is a good first step to help students’ set aside time for reading.  Students record the last day of school, the first day of the new school year, and any tentative summer plans on a calendar.   Then students look at the calendar with their family and map out when they will read.


  1. Talk with Students About Planning Where They Will Read

We want readers to think about where they will read.  Is there a quiet corner or a comfy chair for reading?   How about a comfortable place outside?   Will they spend time in a car, bus, or subway this summer?  These discussions help students think about where they will read and where they should keep their books.


  1. Show Students and Families Summer Regression Data

Many students and their families are not fully aware of the lasting impact summer reading has on reading achievement.  We find that visual data displays help highlight the importance of summer reading.  When working in the classroom, we show students data displays of reading progress for “prototype readers.”  As students study these graphs and interpret the data, they realize the impact of summer reading.   It is also helpful for families and students to see their own data displays during individual meetings.   Sometimes data displays help uncover patterns of progress and regression, and open up conversations about summer reading.



  1. Set up a Book Swap During the School Year:

Before the end of the school year, organize a book swap for your students.  Families bring in books they no longer want and then students can find books they want read over the summer.   If we don’t receive enough books, we often collaborate with another school or local vendors to get extra books.


  1. Set up a Summer Book Exchange

In some schools, administrators, teachers, coaches and/or administrative assistants open the bookroom up one day per week/month during the summer for exchanging books.   The dates and times are shared so families can schedule “book swap appointments.”  This system keeps the excitement about summer reading alive in the community and helps students who read at lower text levels (A-I) access books they can read independently.


  1. Plan Summer Book Clubs

Some teachers, families, and kids host summer book clubs.  Students read a specific book and meet to discuss it.   Meetings can be in the form of blog posts, virtual chats, or actual meetings.   These events are set up in the spring so the excitement can build among students before the summer.


  1. Show Students How to Plan for What They Will Read

We give students time to peruse and discuss the books they will read.  We ask them to make a stack of reading materials they plan to read over the summer.   We encourage students to include digital resources in their plan too.  Blog posts, articles, digital texts are wonderful choices for summer reading.  Students can make a list of the titles in their stack or take a photo to document their plan.


  1. Celebrate Summer Reading in the Fall

When the school year begins again,  encourage students to talk about the books, websites, articles and/or magazines they read over the summer.   Students can give book talks, decorate their reading notebooks with images of the books they read, or even organize a classroom book swap.   When reading workshop begins with the books readers enjoyed, the excitement for reading will spread throughout the classroom.


We would love to learn how you support summer reading in your school, district, and family.   Please add your ideas to this post so we can all work together to foster the love of reading.


Tammy Mulligan and Clare Landrigan have been working in the field of professional development for the past 21 years. They now run a private staff development business, Teachers for Teachers, working with varied school systems to implement best practices in the field of literacy and to engage in institutional change.  They are the authors of Assessment in Perspective.  You can find them on Twitter as @clareandtammy and online at