Slide Through Summer Reading
You have given everything you can to your students this year, and now you are about to send them off into their summer vacation. This break from school can often lead to the “summer slide” or “brain drain,” where they forget some of the skills they mastered during the year. It’s scary to think of how much of the year’s hard work can be lost during the summer; a time could ideally be very enriching for students. If you can reach out to students and teachers before and/or during the summer break with activity suggestions and ideas, perhaps you can help plug the “brain drain” this summer.
This week, we are focusing specifically on resources to encourage reading skills. Keeping up with reading skills will help student in all subject areas. These following ideas are good to share with families this summer, either through an email distribution list, a social network like Facebook or Twitter, or a physical newsletter passed out before the end of the year.
This year’s summer reading program themes in U.S. public libraries are “Dream Big – Read!” for elementary students and “Own the Night” for teens. Look up the program offerings and schedule for your local library. If you send it out to parents (either a physical copy or an email), your students may be more likely to join the program and read. These themes conjure up images from books set at night, nighttime creatures, and stories of dreams. You could work in all kinds of neat activities with this theme, and often, public libraries work hard to make these kinds of activities available (free) throughout the summer.
My favorite reading resources for younger primary students (K-3) right now are the Family Literacy Bags from Reading Rockets. Each “bag” includes downloadable resources to go with a fiction and non-fiction book relating to that bag’s theme. You could send out links to ones you suggest, and parents can reserve the suggested books at the library. A free enrichment with no planning on your part or on the parent’s part! This is a neat way to relate a favorite book to the world. For examples of what a literacy bag looks like, check out Where the Wild Things Are and Green Eggs and Ham. There are many other themed literacy bags from Reading Rockets here.
You may need to motivate older students by keeping them accountable for what they are reading. For older students, it could be fun to start an online book club or a book discussion through email. I know a calculus teacher who has a lot of fun getting his students to post creative pictures or videos of themselves with their calculators. It might be neat to do this with required summer reading. Students could post pictures of their books going along on all their summer travels and adventures. This is a fun “hip” way to encourage reading. Older students who use social networks already could even post these pictures on their profiles to encourage their peers to read as well.
For more summer reading ideas, also see Start With a Book from Reading Rockets. This site for 3-9 year olds has some great resources centered around 24 different themes. I will be looking into this site further so we can catalog some of the resources on the Gateway. Looking at the Start With a Book site and searching for more summer activities on the Gateway inspired me to start a new series for my column this summer: “Summer Slide Busters.” We will feature good summer resources each day on our Facebook and Twitter pages and we will discuss the resources in my column at the end of the week. If you follow our posts, you will have something fun to send to your students (or to do with your own kids) each day! You can also recommend that parents follow these sites so they will receive the daily updates, too.