I started counting Mondays. I try not to get overly excited for summer but I cannot seem to help it. I have so many grand plans. I’m lucky that way. I get to travel to conferences I want to go to and see friends I want to see.
My students are not so fortunate. Most of their summer will be spent within a few miles of their homes. That’s usually how it goes for kids in less affluent areas. They hang out. Do nothing. At least that’s what they tell me.
I want them to read. The summer slide goes right on sliding right into high school.
Some of my students will read because they’ve come to identify themselves as readers this year. They’ve crafted lists of books that interest them, and they’ll make their way to the library and check out books that look intriguing. Some will make their way to the book store. Several of my students have spent their part-time paychecks on books we’ve talked about in class.
They are learning what it means to value books. Of course, I’m pleased.
Summer reading is a tricky thing. I know many students will not read if they do not have an assignment that requires it. That is what we’ve taught them to expect. Expectations engrained like this are hard to change.
Change is possible though.
We can change the books we put on our ‘required’ reading lists (I like the word recommended or suggested so much better.)
We can allow choice of titles instead of mandating one specific book.
If we want our students to want to read, we have to make it easy for them. The article Those Tired Summer Reading Lists. Here’s What to Do offers more to this argument. (And it’s got some nice alternatives for reading logs, too.)
I wonder how you are prepping your students for summer reading?
Me? I have already started the pep talk: The senior AP English teachers on my campus are mandating A Brave New World and Beowulf.
I’ll just leave that right there.
I am proud of my AP English Language team. We’re providing an annotated list of paired texts for our incoming juniors: Summer Reading with a Challenge and a Choice. This is not your same AP English summer reading list. I am confident we will win over more readers this way.
Choice always does.
Maybe we can help more teachers remember: Is summer reading about the reader or about the book?
In the next few weeks, I’ll talk up books with my students. I’ll remind them of the choices they had in our book clubs. Maybe they’ll remember how hard it was to choose just one title at the time and read another this summer. I’ll show some book trailers and encourage students to grow their TBR lists. We talk a lot about readers having reading plans.
I lose a lot of books throughout the year, but I’ve also got a lot of books on my shelves that never move. I’m thinking of having some kind of check out system, maybe a $2 sale (if I can do that). I’d rather have books in student hands than sitting all alone on shelves all summer. Anyone have ideas here?
What are your plans to encourage readers to read this summer?
©Amy Rasmussen, 2011 – 2015