If students read at least five books during vacation, that will go a long way to preventing the "summer slide." What can be done to get your students to read? Sending students home with a reading list is a well-intentioned attempt, but it is hardly enoughand sometimes counterproductive since students may choose not to read if they feel the list is prescriptive. Research shows that choice, access, time, and motivation are important considerations that need to be addressed in supporting summer reading. Each of the tips below is connected to that research.
What students can do:
Read for at least 30 minutes each daythree 10-minute sessions are okay. Students can set a timer to keep on track. Over the course of the summer, these daily reading minutes will add up to over 30 hours!
When selecting books, look for biographies, adventure stories, poetry, mysteries, science fiction novels, and fantasies. And if students have trouble finding the right book, suggest that they talk to a librarian in charge of middle school books.
Build on interests when selecting materials. Look for books and magazines about favorite sports and games, musical artists, celebrities, and hobbies, arts, crafts, cooking, science, nature, and other interests.
Make reading fun! Read and perform poems and plays. Create art projects related to the books read. Use music, drama, and dance to bring stories to life.
Create a schedule that allots at least as much time to reading as to watching television. And instead of flipping through channels to see what's on, preview the TV listings to select shows in advance.
Read the newspaper to find free or low-cost entertainment events to attend or community service projects to join. Preview movies by reading reviews first.
Set reading goals with the family, and negotiate rewards for reaching those targets. Rewards might include movie passes, ice cream, or a 15-minute bedtime extension. Use a calendar to keep track of time spent reading, and keep a journal of what is read.
Use audio books to support reading; libraries have books on tape and CDs and even have some that can be downloaded from the library's website.
Start a reading club with friends, perhaps meeting at the library once a week.
Volunteer at the library.
What teachers can do:
Check with the local library to see if it has a summer reading program for teens, and if so, pass along the information. There are links to summer reading programs in some of Ohio's largest metropolitan areas in the Bulletin Board section below.
Check if people and places in the communityrecreation centers, places of worship, service organizations, senior citizens' groupscan provide a safe space and volunteers to support students in their reading.
Set up a wiki or a blog for students to use as a discussion board about a specific book.
Set up an account at GoodReads
, and invite students to join your group as a way of keeping in touch during the summer. As always, though, check your district's policies concerning the use of social networking sites.
Create a VoiceThread account
(free for educators) for your class using an image or avatar to help identify each student. During the summer, students can record text and audio comments sharing what they are reading and responding to each other and the teacher.
Get books into the hands of students who are not likely to have many at home. An article in Science News
reported on the importance of having books at home. Sometimes local libraries get donations that they might be willing to give away, or used bookstores or a local bookstore might have some to contribute. And garage sales are another source of very inexpensive books. You might be able to do this in conjunction with the local library by holding a "Midsummer Book Giveaway."
Get together with your school librarian or with other teachers to plan opportunities at the beginning of the new school year for students to report on what they read over the summer.
Put postcards, already addressed to you and stamped, in an envelope, and mail them to students, requesting that they write you to tell you about a book or two that they just finished reading.
Send postcards or short notes to your students midsummer reminding them in a friendly way to read.
In "Summer Book Club"
by Brenda Doyle and Linda Gore (in the September 2008 issue of In Perspective
), learn how one middle school involves students and teachers in summer reading clubs. If face-to-face meetings are hard to arrange, you might think about how this format could be accomplished using social networking tools.
In a variation upon the Harry Potter theme, students may have a lot of fun comparing the editions written for the British market with their American counterparts. This would be a good activity for students to do with friends, taking turns reading passages aloud.
The NCTE Inbox is always filled with excellent ideas and resources. For great ideas about summer reading, see the News and Ideas sections of the May 30, 2012, issue
Over the past twenty years, First Book has provided 90 million new books to schools and programs for children in the United States and Canada. Read about First Book
and learn how you can participate.
John Newbery's birthday, July 19, 1713
J. K. Rowling's birthday, July 31, 1965
Walter Dean Myers's birthday, August 12, 1937
Provide your students with a list of the books in competition for this year's Buckeye Children's Book Award
. Explain to them that they will get to vote for their favorite beginning on September 1, 2012. The five books in the grades 68 category are:
The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus, Book 2) by Rick Riordan
Emperor of Nihon Ja, Rangers Apprentice, Book 10, by John Flanagan
The Daughters by Joanna Philbin
Close to Famous by Joan Bauer
The Dark Life, Book 1, by Kat Falls
Local libraries across the state offer unique summer reading programs (the Miller Park branch of the Upper Arlington Public Library
even gives students a chance to read to a therapy dog). To help you find out what programs are being offered, here are links to some of the state's largest library systems:
The following works of fiction are almost guaranteed to engage students:
||Peeled by Joan Bauer (Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2008) is the author's latest. Also see her other books Rules of the Road, Thwonk, and Squashed.
||Slob by Ellen Potter (Philomel Books, New York, 2009)
||Neil Armstrong Is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino (Roaring Brook Press, New York, 2009)
||Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff (HarperCollins, New York, 2009)
||Eighth-Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich (Arthur A. Levine Books, New York, 2010)
||Ruby Red by Robin Jansen Shope (Sparklesoup LLC, Irving, TX, 2010)
||Scat by Carl Hiaasen (Borzoi Books, New York, 2009)
||Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic, New York, 2000)
For series books, we suggest these:
||Eragon by Christopher Paolini (Knopf, New York, 2003) is the first in the Inheritance Cycle series. The others, so far, are Eldest and Brisingr.
||The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks (Doubleday, Garden City, NY, 1980) leads off the series, followed in order by The Return of the Indian, The Secret of the Indian, The Mystery of the Cupboard, and The Key to the Indian.
Rise of the Hero by Andy Briggs (Walker, New York, 2008) is the first in the Hero.com series. In both the Hero.com series and the anti-hero Villain.net series, the characters discover websites that allow them to download superpowers, which the characters use for good or evil.
And for nonfiction, you might pass these titles along to your students:
||Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family by Yoshiko Uchida (University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1982)
||Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton (Pocket Books, New York, 2004)
||Houdini: The Handcuff King by Jason Lutes and Nick Bertozzi (Hyperion Paperbacks for Children, New York, 2007)
||The Kid Who Invented the Trampoline and Other Extraordinary Stories About Inventions by Don L. Wulffson (Dutton Juvenile, New York, 2001)
||Show Off: How to Do Absolutely Everything. One Step at a Time by Sarah Hines Stephens (Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA, 2009)
Peer recommendations can mean a lot to kids. YALSA
publishes a list of the 2012 Teens' Top Ten Nominations to share with your students. You have to provide some brief information about yourself to access the list (unless you are a member), but it's free and easily accessible after that.
The website Al's Book Club for Kids
, produced by Al Roker, is another good source for suggestions and engaging "go-withs" including audiobook excerpts and videos of author interviews.
Making the Match: The Right Book for the Right Reader at the Right Time
, Grades 412, by Teri Lesesne (Stenhouse, Portland, ME, 2003). Read the review in the May/June 2006 issue
of In Perspective
Naked Reading: Uncovering What Tweens Need to Become Lifelong Readers
by Teri Lesesne (Stenhouse, Portland, ME, 2006). Read the review in the May/June 2006 issue
of In Perspective.
Teachers As Readers: Perspectives on the Importance of Reading in Teachers' Classrooms and Lives by Michelle Commeyras, Betty Shockley Bisplinghoff, and Jennifer Olson (International Reading Association, Newark, DE, 2003)
Children's Literature, Briefly
, 4th ed., by Michael O. Tunnell and James S. Jacobs (Allyn & Bacon, Boston, 2007). You can also access a PDF with a 33-page reading list
by these authors.
and The Online Books Page
are just two of the sites on the Internet that provide an amazing number of online books and short stories by authors such as Jane Austen, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Mark Twain. You will want to do some prescreening to select the material since the range of what is offered is wide and not all of it is age appropriate.
Research About Summer Reading Loss
Know the Facts
, from the National Summer Learning Association, is an easy-to-read article that summarizes research on reading losses during the summer. The following three articles, also from the National Summer Learning Association, describe some of the research that is summarized in "Know the Facts." The articles are short, extremely interesting, and also easy to read:
To Share with Parents
Communicate with parents letting them know how important it is for their child to continue to read throughout the summer and providing some tips such as the ones found in:
One for Keeping Current