Summer Reading Plans by Katherine Sokolowski

On the day this post goes live, May 28th, my students and I will have said good-bye. It is, officially, our first day of summer vacation. This is a time for many teachers that is bittersweet. We absolutely need a break, as do our students, but we also hate to see them go. This year I am having an especially tough time. I had taught many of these kids as fifth graders and now as seventh graders. It is also my youngest son’s class, I’ve seen many of these kids since they were so small, they were just starting out in school. Now, they are ready for their final year in middle school. It is hard to say goodbye. Just look at these beautiful faces as they share the amount of books they read this year. I miss them already.

  

Writing this post has been a practice in irony. The reflection piece of beginning summer and looking back on our year together makes me miss my fabulous students, yet the reality is that we actually still have several days to go in our school year. As I type, I hear the click of keys all around me. My students are furiously writing their own fiction stories, stories that we won’t finish before the end of the school year, stories they aren’t even being officially graded on. They’re writing because that’s what we do in this room, we read and we write. They have devoured books this year with a pace that is unmatched in my experience. They are wide readers – picking up a middle grade book one day, a young adult novel the next. They vacillate between picture books, graphic novels, informational texts, and novels. The read and recommend books to each other daily and have discussions and connections that push my thinking. Recommending Jewell Parker Rhodes Ghost Boys two weeks ago, a waiting list immediately formed. As a pair of students read it and discussed, others asked them if they’d read All American Boys or The Hate U Give because they thought the books would tie together for a rich discussion. I listen to these readers and writers talk and I grieve that I know they will be gone all too soon, and then I will start over.

  

As we wrap up our year of reading and writing together, we’ve turned to discussion on summer reading plans. Lindsay has required that I read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Several kids are dying to get their hands on the fourth book in that series, War Storm. Still other kids cannot believe I haven’t brought in Jason Reynolds’ Sunny and are now thrilled to see that the fourth book in the Track series, Lu, comes out this fall. We make plans for reading when they leave and even more plans for when they come back in the fall, though I will have a new group of seventh graders by then. As Donalyn Miller shared in her book Reading in the Wild, readers make plans. So, as our school year comes to a close, that is exactly what we’re doing. Below you will see a photo of a Padlet we filled out as we wrapped up our year along with a link to head over and read their reflections on the Padlet itself. https://padlet.com/katsok/summer On it, we shared our summer reading plans and our titles that are “do not miss” books for my seventh graders. This Padlet will be one of the first things I will share with my new groups come August. Hopefully, from my now-former students, my new ones will learn how to talk about books, how to plan for reading, and how to share the love of a favorite story. What about you? What books are you looking forward to diving into on the long summer days stretching ahead? Please share with us in the comments, we’re excited to add to our “to read” lists as well.

 

Katherine Sokolowski and her three classes of seventh graders reside in central Illinois. They’ve just wrapped up their year together where they read, wrote, and shared stories. You can follow them on Twitter at @sageshoots. Katherine is on Twitter at @katsok and blogs at http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com.