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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 AssessmentinPerspective.com.
I’ve always been a big reader but I would have loved it if my school had done things like this!
Love this list! I have my students reflect on the progress they’ve made over the year (I work exclusively with students reading significantly below grade level), and share some data about summer regression. I then have them write themselves a letter about their reading progress and plans and goals for the summer, which they address to themself, and I mail mid-summer.
As an aside, this is always a great opportunity for me to model letter writing. Many of my students (9th and 10th graders) have never addressed an envelope, and don’t know what side the stamp goes on.
Reblogged this on LBPSB Library Resources and commented:
What are you doing to promote summer reading in your schools? Check out these great ideas that were blogged on the Nerdy Book Club.
Have your school create one of the tiny book libraries that look like large bird houses. See if you can see it every now and then reseed with books from thrift shops.
Consider audio books. One the schools we attended created audio books that they sent home on inexpensive ip3 players. This was critical as many of these students did not have access to English during the summer. Many parent also started to use it for building their English skills.
thank you for this. I was about to draft something up and you did it for me! I plan to send this to my district and my families.
Share the summer releases librarians are excited about too!
Wow, great list! I love it. I will see how I can incorporate one or more of these in my local community.
All of these are great ideas for promoting Summer reading. Really looking forward to all the new summer releases.
Thank you for these ideas. I recently did a project on reading motivation for my grad school class, and the statistics were shocking in terms of kids not wanting to read. The problem gets worse as kids enter middle and high school. Whenever I taught high school English we assigned them summer reading to keep them reading, but forcing them to read might not be very helpful either. It is the thought that counts though!
I’d like to invite you to our tv show #teachertalklive to promote these great tips on our program about the #summerslide this Tuesday. Check us out at teachcow.com!
Tammy and Clare, thanks for a wonderful and timely post. Our after school book club is planning to meet in July and August at the public library. We’re inviting incoming 6th graders to join us.
Thanks for all the great ideas! Our school district allows students to checkout 10 books over the summer and this year I will be taking Summer Shelfies when they checout their books. Reading this gave me another idea that I will be trying this week…have a sign for teachers to post with their summer reading goal. Perhaps outside their classroom door.
Last year before leaving for summer break 2015, I challenged families to take the Family 40 Book Challenge, based on Donalyn Miller’s 40 Book Challenge. We created a video to show at the end of year award ceremonies to promote and get families to take the challenge. At the beginning of this year, the families who completed the challenge received a book and we took pictures of the students and displayed them on the “The Summer Super Readers” wall. I plan to do this again this year and hope to get more families to take the challenge. Our campus will have summer school this summer so we will open the library the whole month of June and I hope this will encourage more families to participate.
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