No matter what study you read, the evidence always shows that students who read over the summer are more successful in the fall than those who don’t. How can you help your students avoid the summer slide? I always try to encourage my students to be independent learners and to take ownership of their own progress. Setting up a system for summer reading helps to foster this.
Our students look up to us and want recommendations from their teachers. One thing I always do is to create a list of titles for students to read over the summer.
I use themes, authors and stories read in class to help generate my list. Did your class have a favorite read aloud? Add a title from the same author to your list. Was there a common read in your classroom? Perhaps a similar book can be found to introduce to your students.
Differentiate Summer Reading Lists
As I begin to think about summer reading, I also think about what each of my students need. I try to create several list to distribute to students based on their performances and ability.
I select authors with a multitude of texts on a variety of levels. Jerry Spinelli and Avi can always be found on each version or my summer reading lists. They write great books at many levels. Students see that they have access to “harder” books if they want a challenge.
Encourage Summer Book Clubs
Recently, school social media pages have become a hot spot for students to showcase their summer reading. Pictures, commentaries and recommendations can be put on a Twitter or Facebook page. Allow students the ability to share their summer reading experiences with their peers and even past and future students.
These social media accounts can also be a place for students to start a book club. They can meet and post questions. They can make recommendations. The possibilities are endless.
A local amusement park gives free admission to students who bring in a list of 5 books they’ve read over the summer. An online reading program we use as a class has a summer reading challenge. My state has a “Governor’s Reading Challenge.” Each spring we hand out the forms associated with it and in the fall they are collected. Students who participate are recognized and praised.
Find contests and incentives in your area and share them with your students. I’m not always a huge fan of reading incentives, but if they get kids reading when they aren’t in school, I’m in!
No matter what strategy or approach you choose, any summer reading is better than none. Encourage your students to stay fresh and on top of their reading. Remind them that students who read in the summer enter school in the fall more prepared.