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.
Many students are more likely to read what they themselves have chosen. Send a list of tips to families, explaining the importance of reading during the summer and in particular the importance of choice. Among the tips:
Most children in this age group need to learn how out how to select books that are right for them. Briefly tell families about the five-finger rule, where the child raises a finger for each word on a page he or she is not able to read. Five raised fingers means the book is probably too hard, and one or no fingers raised likely means the book is too easy. Or you can point families to the article Research in Brief: How to Make Summer Reading Effective
for a simple explanation of the process.
It's important that students have a variety of books from which to choosebiographies, adventure stories, poetry, and mysteries. And families encourage children to build on their interests. The children might look for books and magazines about their favorite sports and games, musical artists, celebrities, and hobbies. If they have trouble finding the right book, they can talk to a children's librarian.
Since libraries carry a variety of magazines for children, suggest that families give children the opportunity to leaf through them. Age-appropriate ones include National Geographic Kids
(plus the National Geographic Kids website has games and activities including Summer Boredom Busters
(literature), Apple Seeds
(history and social studies), and Ask
(science and nature); and there are many excellent magazines besides these.
Check with your local library to see if it has a summer reading program (almost every library does). Then send a note home to parents that provides information about signing their children up for the program. (There are links to summer reading programs in some of Ohio's largest metropolitan areas in the Bulletin Board section below.)
An article in Science News
reported the importance of having books at home. If possible, hand out a book to each student to own and take home to read. Sometimes local libraries get donations that they might be willing to give you, or used bookstores or a local bookstore might have some to contribute. And garage sales are another source of very inexpensive books.
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.
A number of sites on the Internet provide online books for young readers. Among them:
Between the Lions
. You probably recognize the name of the PBS show. The website offers stories for students in grades K3. Students have two opportunities to read: The words appear on
the pages and beneath
Let's Read! Clifford, the Big Red Dog
. Cliffordalways a favorite! These books have an interactive component, where students can choose to click on words to initiate an action in the story.
. Members of the Screen Actors Guild, such as Betty White, read twenty-three stories, such as Harry the Dirty Dog
. Words from the books appear beneath the sometimes animated pages.
In your tips to families, you might want to include some of these suggestions:
Encourage their child to read for at least 20 minutes each daytwo 10-minute sessions is okay. Set a timer to keep on track. Over the course of the summer, these daily reading minutes will add up to over 20 hours!
Today, many families are on the go. Children may spend a lot of time riding in the car or sitting in waiting areas. Pack a backpack or small bag with books and magazines to enjoy on family outings.
For those families going on trips in the car, instead of listening to their children repeatedly ask, "Are we there yet?" they can play word and comprehension games that improve reading and thinking skills. Parenting for Literacy: Games Parents Play
has video explanations for each game and instructions that will help parents and children enjoy learning together while on the road. Car bingo cards
offer another reading-on-the-road option. For nonreaders, parent and child can read the words together before the trip and let the child draw a picture for each item on the card. Then as the child rides along, he or she can read and remember the items in each box and check them off as they come into view.
Limit television time to encourage reading. Instead of flipping through channels to see what's on, have the child preview the TV listings to select shows in advance.
Set out 20 minutes a day to take turns reading aloud with the childit is a great way to share a book!
And here are more tips to give to families:
Make reading fun! Read and perform poems and plays. Create art projects related to the books the child is reading. Use music, drama, and dance to bring stories to life.
Set reading goals, and offer incentives for reaching those targets. Special treats such as movie passes, ice cream, a 15-minute bedtime extension, or extra play time will motivate children to read each day. Use a calendar to keep track of time spent reading.
If the child is a struggling reader, provide additional support by reading the same book or using audio books to supplement his or her reading. Be sure to discuss the stories to check for comprehension.
Use "how-to" books to explore new hobbies and activities. Kids love to learn about arts, crafts, games, cooking, science, nature, and other interests.
Especially if the child is not a motivated reader, make sure to set real purposes for reading. 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. Look for easy ways to make reading meaningful.
If a child is reluctant to read aloud, suggest that he or she read to a favorite stuffed animal or twoor to a family pet.
Create a special place to read, with good lighting and comfortable pillows if possible. The reader can make a special "Do Not Disturb Reader" sign or a sign proclaiming "Reading in Progress," or "Book Nook," or whatever announces that this is a place to read.
You can contribute to motivating summer readers by mailing a letter, containing a stamped postcard addressed to you, requesting that students write you to tell you about a book or two that they just finished reading.
You can also send postcards or short notes to your students midsummer reminding them in a friendly way to read.
Work with your school library or other teachers to coordinate what you do, so that at the beginning of the next school year, students can report on what they read to their new teacher, who can post a class list of books the students read or display posters about books that the children created over the summer.
Ask students to keep a journal of what they have read. They can share it with their new teacher and classmates at the beginning of the new school year.
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.
Celebrate some favorite picture book authors' birthdays to start and end the summer:
||Gail Gibbons offers super nonfiction books.
||Jan Pienkowski has eight free online books to read on his website.
||Donald Crews spent his summers in Cottondale, Florida, not home in New Jersey.
An Ohio treasure, the Mazza Museum
(University of Findlay) houses more than 3,000 pieces of original art from children's books. It is a great place to visit.
Provide your students with a list of the books in contention 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.
Buckeyes A to Z by Mark Walter, Illustrated by Tim Williams
Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters by Barack Obama, Illustrated by Loren Long
We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie book) by Mo Willems
Please Take Me for a Walk by Susan Gal
Every Thing on It by Shel Silverstein
Local libraries across the state offer unique summer reading programs. In fact, the Miller Park branch of the Upper Arlington Public Library
even gives students a chance to read to a therapy dog. Unfortunately, we don't have room to list every program, but here are links to the summer programs for some of the largest library systems in the state.
||The Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant, illustrations by Stephen Gammell (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 1985). The Relatives Came celebrates extended summer stays with relatives from afar and depicts the joys that are derived from annual summer reunions. You can almost hear the station wagon's rattle and feel the never-ending hugs as you read of the family's arrival.
||Sail Away by Donald Crews (HarperTrophy, New York, 1995). Sailing would be a new adventure for most young children. Why not read the Donald Crews book Sail Away and put toy boats in the water play area to give children a chance to see how boats stay afloat even when the wind blows.
||Bigmama's by Donald Crews (Greenwillow Books, New York, 1997). This Crews book celebrates the joys of summers spent in Florida. Each year the trip began with a three-day adventure on the train and culminated with wonderful investigations of Bigmama's home to make sure it was still the same.
||Night at the Fair by Donald Crews (Greenwillow Books, New York, 1998). Crews captures another summer staple, the fair. Rides, lights, food, and fun are key to the book's charm. You can just feel the excitement in the air. And the huge double-spread picture of the Ferris wheel will be a treat for every reader.
As featured in Reading Is Understanding,
a Resources for Early Childhood (REC) Bookshelf, choose the book Heat Wave
, which tells the tale of a hot, hot summer of many years ago. As the Bookshelf's Literary Links note, "The story introduces words that children today have probably never heard before. After reading the story, make a list of a few of the unusual terms, and have the children try to figure out their meaning from the context of the story as you reread passages that contain the words. If possible, use the words a few times during the school day to reinforce the vocabulary."
Find a shady tree and gather children around you to share the books in Summer Stories
, from the REC website.
||Weaving the Literacy Web: Creating Curriculum Based on Books Children Love by Hope Vestergaard (Redleaf Press, St. Paul, MN, 2005). The title pretty well describes this very useful book. Using loved books as the kernel of the curriculum will result in creating lessons and activities that will captivate your students.
||Shared Storybook Reading: Building Young Children's Language and Emergent Literacy Skills by Helen K. Ezell and Laura M. Justice (Brookes Publishing, Baltimore, MD, 2005). Step-by-step strategies to help educators engage, respond to, and teach young children during storybook readinginformation they can share with parents to continue the learning at home.
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.
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. These next 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 that their child continues to read throughout the summer and providing some tips such as the ones found in: