During the summer, it can be really challenging to keep kids motivated to read. There are many competing issues including activities kids are participating in such as camps, swimming, and travel. But other kids may lack access to books. What can be done? How can we plan NOW to set kids up for summer success?
Build Reading Lists
One of the best ways to plan for the summer is to help your kids create reading lists. The resource to the right is one I created for teachers to use for list creation. It’s best for upper elementary and middle school. Kids work in small groups to build top 20 lists by genre and then from the genre lists, the kids make personal top 20 lists. They’re great for displaying which helps kids learning what others are wanting to read too.
Another fun way for your kids to build reading lists is by using a graffiti wall. With the wall, kids post a simple book review form to the wall that includes a brief summary, opinions about the book, etc. If you’d like to create a graffitti wall, download THIS FORM to use with your kids. This idea would probably work well for primary students as well as upper.
Our Book List is Ready. Now what?
The book list is a great way to build interest, but the next hurdle is working around the obstacles I mentioned at the beginning. To help your students who may not have access to books, there are a few options you can try.
Host a Book Swap:
With a book swap, students gather up books they’ve read and recommend to other. They bring to school books they want to trade. For those who do not have books to trade, you can accept donations from other parents, friends, your local library’s discard shelf, or even your local used bookstore. At your swap, you allow the kids to shop and choose books to take home.
Set Up a Giving Tree:
If you have an artificial Christmas tree, set it up in your school’s entryway. You can hang booklist “ornaments” on the tree that parents and community members can fulfill to help your class. If you are in a Title 1 school, this would qualify as a parental involvement activity. You might discuss funding with your building administrator or Title 1 team.
We Are Teachers
THIS POST by We Are Teachers includes a great collection of organizations that help teachers supply their classroom library, but many would also offer books for kids at low to no cost.
Book Club Options:
The kids have books to read, but how can we insure they actually read them? Well, book clubs are a great option, and there are several ways you can line them up. Of course, there may not be a way to reach every single chld, but some is better than none. Below, I’ll share a few club set ups that I’ve tried.
Traditional In-Home Book Club Meetings:
For in-home meetings, parents do the organizing, and the kids come weekly to read together and discuss the chapters of a novel they’ve all chosen. The parent would want to offer food and drinks and also guide the discussion of the book.
Many kids have access to a laptop and/or Google apps. Google Hangout works well for the discussion as all the kids can see each other and chat online. (My reading council is actually going to host a professional book discussion next summer with Google Hangout.) I believe kids could also use a parents phone which helps it be more inclusive.
Blog About It:
A few summers ago, I set up a book club blog. I used a Blogger site and wrote up posts with discussion questions. I set it up with strong privacy and opened it JUST to the kids I was teaching. If you are interested in this, get your parents onboard and give them the link. Then, they’ll have your back and encourage involvement.
Mid Summer Checkin:
Finally, you might start a novel study as you send students off to summer vacation and do a mid-summer checkin at Cici’s Pizza or a cheap restaurant. Over lunch, you could discuss your chosen book. (and collect books from those who have finished reading). It wouldn’t require a huge amount of time, but it would send the message that it’s important that your kids read through the summer.
Summer Reading Buddies:
Before summer break, you might pair your kids (who live near each other) for reading buddies. They can read the same book and call each other and/or get together to compare reading notes. Speaking of notes, having your kids keep a journal to record thoughts as they read helps with accountability. (but stress it’s for quick notes only, not book reports).
These ideas may not work for you, but at least it gets you thinking of what might work. I think that’s the beauty of blogs. You might read an idea and put your own spin on it. 😊
Subscriber Resource for Any Book
Before you go, I want to share one last free resource with you. These book lists have been super helpful for many teachers. They print them and include them with the end of the year report cards. I hope you’ll find them helpful.