The long, leisurely days of summer are quickly approaching. As I reflect on my year and set reading and writing goals for summer, I ponder how best to encourage students to continue the reading habits they have developed during this school year.
Two years ago, members of our literacy coaching co-op shared how their districts encourage students to read over the summer. I took copious notes of all their brilliant ideas and promptly shared them with my friend and colleague, Maria who is my school’s library media specialist. Maria and I formed a summer reading committee of interested teachers from grade levels K-5. Together we have organized summer reading pep rallies, partnered with the local library to promote the many programs they host and celebrated the reading students have done over the summer. Students have the choice of tracking their reading using a simple paper log and the online format Beanstack which the local library hosts.
While we have seen the number of kids reading increase each year, I still revisit the question of how best to encourage even more students to read over the summer. Last year, we kicked off the program in May so that students could get in the habit of keeping a log a good 3 weeks before school let out. This year, I decided that what I really want is for kids to leave for summer with a list of books to read. Just as I have a large stack of professional books that I plan to read this summer, I want kids to have their stack ready to go.
As I mentioned in previous blog posts, book tastings were all the rage this year! I introduced them to teachers by hosting a book tasting in my office, transforming it into Casa Senatore complete with old Italian style music, red checkered tablecloths, and fireless candles. Giving teachers time to “taste” new books made for an enjoyable and productive professional learning experience and inspired many to host book tastings in their classrooms. One teacher came to me with the idea of hosting a tasting at the local library so that her students could check out the books they tasted! I loved this idea! I recognized that taking every class to the local library would be difficult but hosting book tastings during students’ regularly scheduled library class at school is feasible! Maria was fully on board! Together, we transformed the school library into a cafe. Maria made brochures with QR codes of summer reading resources and space for students to record the books they tasted and planned to read over the summer. To accommodate our Kindergarten students, she placed small pictures of the books they tasted on each table and had students staple them into their brochures.
So far the library book tastings have been a hit! Just enter the library during a tasting and you’ll hear the buzz in the room as students discuss the books they plan to read. Maria plays book trailers every 5 minutes and gives students a chance to record the book featured on a “Must read” list. In addition to books, we ask students to list a summer reading goal and a plan for when and where they will read this summer. Classroom teachers have been extremely supportive of this initiative and happily listen as their students share their summer reading plans.
Do you have a summer reading initiative in your district? If so, we’d love to hear about it!