Stop the summer slide by showing your students how you prepare for your summer reading life. You might explain how your summer reading life differs from your school year reading life. Readers vary what they read. In my case, I read a larger variety of literature over the summer than during the school year. It's not all just professional reading and middle grades and YA literature for me during the summer.
Last week, I brought home a whole stack of books that we'll be featuring in our book-tasting room in the fall. Next year's theme is Books, Brownies, and Blurbs. It's an ambitious stack and I won't get it all read, but I will certainly try. I also downloaded two adult beach reads to my phone for our vacation in July. Readers plan in advance, and I am well-prepared for a break even if it is a few months away. I'm sure a few more beach reads will join the queue.
Readers love a recommendation. I keep a list of someday books---as in someday I'll have time to read them. Readers keep lists of books they want to read. When a book gets recommended to me from three different parties, I move it from my someday list to my Amazon cart. From there, it's just a matter of having dollars in my fun fund for book purchases. If my fun fund is low, I'll get on the wait list at the public library.
Speaking of the public library, the end of the school year is your last chance to make sure your students have the local public library app on their phones. Readers love free reads. I'm not sure what all libraries' policies are, but ours let’s anyone age 14 and over have digital access without parental permission. Downloading this app puts the published world at a student's fingertips. Younger students simply need parental permission.
You might also publish the location of any Little Free Libraries in your community. https://littlefreelibrary.org This non-profit bills itself as the world's largest free book-sharing movement. Their website has a map of their over 70,000 registered Little Free Library sites. See if there is one near you. If there's not one near you, maybe your class can work to get registered and build a library or write to a local organization that might build one in your community. Ending the year with authentic researching, writing, and reading might really help keep your class engaging.
Readers share their intentions with others. Help your students set a summer goal by creating a stack of books they'd like to read this summer. Then have them take a shelfie (a selfie of their summer reading bookshelf) and publish it. You can make a fun hallway display. The shelfie is a de facto form of goal setting. Once you've published your intentions, it's more likely you'll follow through.
Show your students the beauty of free apps that help you organize your reading life. Readers know there is an app for almost everything. You could show them apps like Overdrive or Goodreads that are actual reading apps or you could show them some free RSS Reader apps. These apps locate all of your favorite blogs, sites, and feeds into one app on your device for free. You can access all your favorites in one handy location without clicking through bookmarks or entering web addresses or taking up the storage space it takes to have them each on their own respective app.
Suggest your students follow a few news sources in addition to their favorite Instagram stars. They'll be more likely to read current event and magazine articles over the summer if they get a notification. Not all summer reading is in books. I read many more bloggers and news sources in addition to some guilty pleasures, gossip magazines, over the summer than I do the rest of the year.
Readers research. They enjoy discovering what people outside their circle are reading. Have older readers Google Celebrity Book Club and/or celebrities who read. I always think it's interesting to see what others are reading. On an airplane, I'll almost break my neck while spying on other readers. I have a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) on the next great read. Last summer, I found my favorite book of the summer last year by watching the Jimmy Fallon show. Who knew Jimmy had a Twitter Book Club? I happened to be watching the night he book-talked a handful of titles. Then the audience had a few days to vote, and voila! A Twitter Book Club was born.
Have younger students interview other kinds of celebrities about their favorite reads---their siblings, their grandparents, their favorite teachers, or kids from the next grade up. Certainly not all of these titles will appeal to younger readers, but it's a keen project to see what was trendy historically as well as to be as cool as a sixth grader.
The summer slide can be avoided. We've all worked so hard all year to grow a love, or at least a like of reading, that we need to finish strong and with the same enthusiasm about reading that we had throughout the year. The best reading teachers prepare their students for reading experiences all year long!
What do you do to launch your students into a summer of reading? Share your best ideas and tips below in the comments section. We all want our students to continue growing over the summer.
#ISSWWYSBR: It's Soon Summer. What Will Your Students Be Reading?
Charmion Mohning is the Secondary Reading Coordinator and lead reader in Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District. She has presented at local, state, and national conferences about growing a love of reading, word study, and implementing READ 180 with fidelity. She is passionate about ensuring that every student can read. Before becoming an administrator, Charmion taught English as a Second Language in Grades 4-6 and was a curriculum coach for the district’s structured English immersion program. She has degrees from Upper Iowa University and Sam Houston State University.