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Summer Reading – The Time is NOW!


Today the sun is shining and the freshly fallen snow is glistening and MELTING! I’m dreaming of summer! A summer that seems so far away, but in reality it will be here before we know it. Summer is 133 days away as of this writing! (Keep track with this countdown site – How many days until Summer 2015?Now is the time to start planning for summer reading programming to assist in alleviating the summer slide. Summer programs come at a cost – the hiring of additional staff, the adoption of summer curriculum materials, building utility costs and student transportation just to name a few. Have you ever wondered if there was an “equally effective but lower cost option to summer school?


Let’s first do a little visualizing activity!

What comes to your mind when YOU think about YOUR OWN summer or vacation reading habits? Do you prefer to curl up in a comfortable spot and immerse yourself in volumes of reading materials or do you like to go to a school or work type setting, sit at a desk, and continue to work on the “skills” of reading? I don’t know about you – but reading on my deck, reading lakeside/poolside, reading in a park, or reading curled up on the sofa on a rainy summer day with my dog are much more appealing. I do not plan to read at my desk in my home office or go to my place of work to do my summer reading (or any of my leisure reading through out the whole year.) I like to get comfortable when I read whether I’m reading something for fun or work related.

Now think about what you will read? Will you read material that you are assigned to read? Books that only fall within a certain level? Books someone else said were “just right” for you? OR, will you explore new genres? Will you kick back and read something light and fun? Will you challenge yourself with a thought provoking text? Will the reading material change throughout the summer? Some days light, some days heavy? Some text long, and some short? Will you listen to audio books in the car or on a long walk?  CHOICE is a powerful part of the reading equation!

Will you interact with others as you read? Will you take part in book clubs? Will you tell others about what you are reading? Will you share in person? Will you tweet about the books/material you are reading? Will you reflect by writing blog posts? OR will you write book reports for someone else? Take electronic quizzes to “ensure” you comprehended the literal parts of the text or answer a series of questions generated by someone else?

Many educators strive to encourage, inspire, and empower a life-long love of reading with their students. They create environments that are inviting and that are filled with a wide variety of reading material. They allow for student choice and encourage student interaction. Setting students up for summer reading that is just as empowering is a critical component – especially for students that are not exposed to volumes of reading material at home.

And, while many school districts are scrambling to create summer programming, especially for students who are struggling there may be a more cost effective, inviting process that sets students up to ENJOY summer reading just as much as many of us do! Providing CHOICE in where they read, what they read, and how they interact with others!

Summer readingCheck out Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap  by Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen.

“Summer reading loss accounts for roughly 80 percent of the rich/poor reading achievement gap. Yet far too little attention is given to this pressing problem. This timely volume now offers not only a comprehensive review of what is known about summer reading loss but also provides reliable interventions and guidance. Written by acknowledged experts and researchers on reading, remedial reading, and special education, this collection describes multiple models of innovative summer reading and book distribution initiatives as well as research-based guidelines for planning a successful summer reading program, including tips on book selection, distribution methods, and direction for crucial follow-up. Most important, the authors clearly show how schools and communities can see greater academic gains for students from low-income families using the methods described in this book than they can from much more costly interventions.” (from Amazon)

Allington & McGill-Franzen describe their study in the article Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap on the International Literacy Association website.

“Just improving poor children’s access to books they can read and want to read may seem too simple an idea for improving reading achievement. But the evidence is clear. When children from low-income families are given the opportunity to select books for summer reading they will read those books during the summer months. Reading during the summer stems summer reading loss and effectively closes the rich/poor reading achievement gap that has lingered far too long.” Allington & McGill-Frazen

In order to excel at something we need access to the tools! Hockey players need ice. Swimmers need water. Crafters need supplies. Builders need tools. AND READERS need READING MATERIAL! Unfortunately, too many of our students do not have the proper tools to be successful readers in the summer (or throughout the school year.)

The time is NOW

As of this writing, summer 2015 is 133 days away in the United States. Summer vacation may start sooner depending on your area and school calendar. Now is the time to start accumulating books to give to students and assist families in collecting books as well.

The key to running the type of program Allington and McGill-Franzen describe is to collect a wide variety of reading material for students to choose from prior to school letting out for the summer. Allington and McGill-Franzen suggest about 15 books per student. Students are able to choose the books they would like to take home for the summer.

Let’s help each other find those inexpensive book treasure troves! How could you involve your students and families in the process? I’ll start with a few, but would love to hear your ideas in the comment section!

  • Garage Sales, Tag Sales, Rummage Sales – Many sales include books. They are often marked quite low for quick sales.
  • Consignment Shops, Second Hand Stores, Flea Markets usually have many books on hand.
  • Shopping online can be a valuable option. Amazon and have many used book options.
  • Library book sales – Libraries weed their collections often. Look for sales at your local library. Check to see if your library has a “Friends of the Library” sale. In our area this is an annual event. Books are collected not only from the library, but community members as well. Proceeds go back to the library.
  • Facebook – Many Facebook swap groups have popped up. Look for groups in your area. Many allow for ISO (In Search Of) posts. In my area we have a local teacher swap group on Facebook. It is a great place to sell your items and find deals. Many retired teachers add their supplies!
  • Check to see if you happen to have a Scholastic Warehouse Sale in your area.
  • Grant options – Search for possible grant opportunities. Many love to fund programs for students!
  • Just asking friends … many of your friends may have kids that are grown and gone, yet they have many of their books. I have a hunch they’d be glad to give or sell them to you for a small fee.
  • And let’s not forget digital sources for text. I’ll gather some ideas in the future. What are your suggestions?

Where do you find books for your students?

Share your ideas in the comment section!

The more I think about this summer reading idea I know there are other set up things to consider. I’ll leave those for subsequent blog posts. Our students deserve summer reading programs that will continue to develop life-long readers. They deserve to choose what they want to read and where they want to read it. I believe anything is possible … BUILD IT! Involve your students and their families in the process.

What other things would you need to have in place?

I’d love to hear your ideas!


Other Resources that may be of interest:

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