Tag Archives: Summer Reading

Year-Round “Summer” Reading!

Every year libraries, newspapers, magazines, and bloggers put out lists of the BEST BEACH READS or SUMMER READING BESTS.  There is something festive and exciting about summer reading. Why is that?  Sometimes people admit that they choose different books in the summer. They confess to loving “trashy” books as a “guilty pleasure”.

Hey, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!!

Summer reading shouldn’t be judged as less than acceptable.  It’s a time when people seem to read what they want to read. We reflect on our tastes and preferences.   We look for recommendations from others. We often experiment with new books and genres.  We associate books with the places we read them and special times in our lives. We contemplate our reading identities.

I want that for our students, too.  Sadly many will not read over the summer for a variety of reasons. Many educators, libraries, and schools try to promote, incentivize, and encourage summer reading but ultimately we cannot create the conditions to make that a reality for all. We can’t be there with them to help make it happen. Or can we?

If we want our students to experience the joys of summer reading we can look for ways to create that experience in our classrooms (where we do exert influence). We can ask ourselves: what makes summer reading special?

  • Enticing Book Lists of “Must Reads”
  • “Free” time to read
  • Choice in what we read
  • Fun places to read
  • Conversations about what we read
  • Festive atmosphere for reading

That’s easy enough for most of us. We create many of these conditions in our classrooms already. But what if we just declared a Summer Reading Break a few times during the school year and bring that magic into our classrooms.

Announce an upcoming Summer Reading Break. Really play it up to generate the buzz and excitement many feel for real summer. In anticipation students could:


  • Create summer reading lists/ ‘must reads‘ compiled by students.
  • Create or collect book talks or book trailers to entice readers
  • Get their TBRs (To Be Read) ready for the week
  • Talk to librarians about book recommendations
  • Plan a summer reading corner by  bringing in beach blankets, umbrellas, towels, etc.
  • Discuss their perceptions of ‘summer reading’ and how it could be good for them as readers.


Then for a week you could carve out 30 minutes a day to :

  • Take a school “vacation” and simply read!
  • Put on background sounds of surf, loon calls, bird songs, thunderstorms, etc.
  • Project a summer video or scene onto a SmartBoard/whiteboard.
  • Share some summer snacks.
  • Provide kids time to talk about their reading/books.
  • Write about/Blog/Tweet/Instagram their “summer” reading.
  • Continually make references/connections to how this would look for them during their summer vacations.
  • Reflect on our reading identities!

By the time real summer rolls around, these students will have some schema for summer reading that they may have never had before.  They can associate summer reading with a pleasurable experience. We can continue the conversation about reading and books with our students via a class blog, google doc, email, social media (if students are old enough) during the summer. We could have a mid-summer ‘meet up’ (in person or virtually) to bring favorite books to talk about.

We can’t expect our students to take on new behaviors away from school that haven’t had scaffolding at school.  For something to become a habit, it needs to have repetition and opportunity.  If we want our students to be summer readers, they need opportunities to practice and experience that behavior! When your students come back from summer break this fall, think about who was a summer reader and who was not. Think about why that might be.  Then think about how you can create a few summer reading breaks during the school year that address those conditions/issues.  You might not see the bump during your teaching year, but…

We plant the seeds so that others may enjoy the shade.

What’s On My Book Radar?

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 9.34.05 PMTowers Falling is the 3rd book I have read this summer that deals with 9/11 and like Nora Raleigh Baskin’s nine, ten: a September 11 Story and Gae Polisner’s The Memory of Things, this book is a gem. On the 15th anniversary of the tragedy, Deja’s 5th grade teacher presents some lessons on the history of this date. Somehow Deja is the only student who has never heard of 9/11 and yet she will find she is the one student in her class who has a personal connection to that date.  Jewell Parker Rhodes has created a story of friendship and compassion as she introduces us to Deja (a homeless girl) and her two friends Sabeen (a muslim girl) and Ben (a child of divorce) who band together to try to understand why recent history is important and relevant and how it can influence our lives today. I think this is an essential read for students who weren’t alive on that date and are trying to understand why it is so important for our nation (and perhaps their families’) history.


Summer Slip and Slide!

imagesSome of you, as you read this, may already be out on summer vacation, but those of us in Maine have a few weeks to go.  Most of us are busy gathering information and resources to address the inevitable summer slide that our students experience.  This week’s blog is dedicated to that focus.  I would really welcome any other ideas or resources, as I know they abound.


We all know that idiom and how it ends.  Similar to how all of our hard work at gathering and dispersing resources tends to end when students do not read or write over the summer months.  Although it is frustrating, you still offer water to your horse!  You just don’t need to lug 50 gallons of Perrier, swirl it ice and lemon slices and serve it up with a silver straw!    We don’t need to spend hours and hours of work or hundreds of dollars for resources to satisfy the thirst of our summer readers.  We can instead try to connect them to the resources already available and ready.


Sadly we are all to aware of the haves and have nots in our school communities.  It is no coincidence that the have nots (as far as technology goes) are often our most struggling students.  The correlation between poverty and achievement becomes glaringly obvious when access to technology and online resources are a barrier for student learning.  We cannot make that an excuse for not integrating technology and 21st century skills into our teaching and learning, but we DO need to be aware of access issues and think outside of the box to address them.

summerreading-300x297Knowing our population is key.  Who has access to the internet?  Who has a smart phone or cell phone?  This information can guide the type and amount of work that will go into any summer literacy program you want to implement.  However, any initiative should include non-digital resources for families and students and an assumption that there will be those without access.

This is where the old-fashioned notes home come in.  Pamphlets and handouts with ideas, resources, book lists, etc abound.  Keep them simple.  Keep them user friendly.  They could include local library programs and hours, local bookstore events and information, free museum, films, concerts, or programs to build family experiences or information on local groups that put on family friendly events.    Many libraries set up reading incentive programs that do not require a computer or internet access.  Many bookstores have authors come to visit for free or have pajama nights and read alouds.  Sharing this information with parents is leading the horse to water.

Many schools get books in kids’ hands.  Purchasing inexpensive books, holding book drives for gently used books and setting up book swaps so students can get ‘new to you’ titles in their hands are great ways to promote reading and give your horse a sip!


For those families who do have access to the internet, the world is a finger touch away.kids-computers   We can collect dozens and dozens of resources to share, but that can often overwhelm a parent.  By judiciously choosing some resources that you, or your school thinks are worthy, you can give those families a drink without drowning them.  It can take time to evaluate all of the resources out there, so I’ll share a few with you to get you started.  You may already have all you need, in which case you can tweet them out to me @LitCoachLady on Twitter or LitCoachCorner on Facebook!

BOOKLISTS–  I rarely read a book anymore unless it is recommended.  I just don’t have summer-reading-300x198time to read everything.  I rely on word of mouth or booklist recommendations from organizations I respect.  Now, I don’t always agree with their selections, but these books have been vetted by some pretty wise people and there is a good chance they will be well worth your time.

Here are the books students in Maine will be reading and voting on for the next school year:

Maine Student Book Award Nominees 2014-2015

Here are what students in all of the other states will be reading!

Cynthia Leitich Smith’s 50 State Book Awards Compilation

Here are some recommendations and resources from the Pragmatic Mom!

Pragmatic Mom’s Summer Reading

Recommendations by grade level from Education.com



American Library Association (ALA)



Scholastic “Keep Kids Reading All Summer-Long”

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenge

Pottery Barn Summer Reading Challenge


StarWalk Kids– Free Digital Library for the month of July

Storyline Online Have great books read aloud!

PBS Kids books, games, activities galore!

Starfall  online books

ONLINE RESOURCES: Magazines for kids

Time for Kids

National Geographic for Kids

Newsela   (news articles for middle elementary and up)


Reading Rockets Family Ideas

Reading Logs

RIF=Reading is Fundamental

Read Write Think

PBS-“how to tackle school summer reading lists”


Spaghetti Book Club – book reviews BY kids, FOR kids

Kids’ Book Review


Common Sense Media


Journal Buddies– Summer Writing Prompts

Boys To Books– Writing Ideas for Boys

Scholastic Summer Writing


Twitter –  create a school hashtag ex. #LincolnSummerReaders to post ideas and keep in touch  Teachers can follow the hashtag #SummerReading

 Facebook– create a private group where you can send parents updates, reminders, event times, resources, etc.  Since students under 13 should not be on Facebook, I would promote this as a parent resource.

Edmodo- some teachers create Edmodo groups for their students to connect with their teacher and classmate about books and learning.  It is a free “Facebook-like” platform that ensures privacy for students to blog and connect.

 Kidblog– parents or teachers can set up kids on a safe blogging site to get them writing and blogging over the summer months and beyond

Texting- Remind 101– safe, one way texting application to stay in touch with parents about summer literacy books, events, ideas.


Whatever you or your school decides to do, keep it fun…keep it light…keep it simple.  Remember this IS a vacation for the kids, a time to be with family and make memories outside of school.  Ideally they would all read, write, compute, experiment and create all summer long.  We know that isn’t the reality for a lot of our kids, but all we can do is supply the water and then let the horses out to pasture!


Whats On My Book Radar?

In case you didn’t notice all of the booklists above…THAT’S what’s on my radar! Checking though the lists, looking at recommendations from friends, lining up my personal summer reading lists.  Can’t wait to dig in!