Reading is one of the most important skills we teach our students throughout the year. While summer is on its way and we all need a break, it’s important to remember to find a way to make reading a priority for students over the summer. Studies show student can lose up to 20 percent of their reading level over the summer if they do not do summer reading activities. That’s at least three months of re-teaching we have to do next year! So, how can you get your students off the devices and hooked on books? With these fun summer reading activities.
Help Students Choose the Right Books
So, you might be wondering, “What’s the right book?” Well, that totally depends on each individual student. When you are encouraging students to read in the summer, you want to make sure they are reading something that is interesting to them! Summer reading activities shouldn’t be forced or something students have to do; it should feel like something they get to do. Therefore, you need to help students find something they like!
Many people think of summer reading activities as a difficult assignment. However, it doesn’t have to be! Summer reading activities can be about anything students are interested in that is at their level. For example, if you have a student who loves Spiderman, reading a Spiderman comic might be the best choice for that student. On the other hand, if a student loves reading about planets, showing them different fiction and nonfiction books about the solar system might be the best bet!
There is no such thing as reading the “wrong” thing when you are making summer reading lists with your students.
Parents Need Guidance for Summer Reading Activities
In order for summer reading activities to happen, you need to have parents on your side! To get parents to help you out with this summer reading goal, make sure you give them a list of book sources. Parents are busy and some of them haven’t been in a library since they were in school. Therefore, you need to give them a list of options for finding books over the summer that are FREE. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include other sources like bookstores or Amazon, but you should always have that free option.
One way to get parents comfortable with the library is to plan a meet-up at your local library. All you would need to do is ask your local librarians if you can host a meet-up night. Not only would they be delighted to have people in the library, they would also help you set everything up! At the meet-up, you can show parents how to check out library books and help them get set up with a library card.
Finally, you can help parents by giving them a summer reading list that includes books at their students’ level and something they are interested in.
Set Summer Reading Activity Goals (with a Prize)
If there’s one thing that motivates students more than anything, it’s prizes! Students love knowing what the goal is and knowing they’re going to get something for meeting it. Now, I don’t usually go all in for bribing kids, but this is the exception! However, you can’t just go on the honor system.
Before students leave, we set a goal they need to meet and to show me they are doing the work, they must take along the reading response sheets we use in our literacy centers. If they complete all of the reading response sheets, I ask for ten of them, they get a prize when they get back to school. So, does it work?
YES! I had students coming to me at Meet the Teacher night to show me their work and get their prize! If they didn’t find me then, they would on the first day of school. Even students who moved find a way to get their prize. Many of them have their parents are or guardians contact me, and I always find a way to give them their prize. If you need help organizing your centers, you can get a free guide here! Again, while I don’t usually like bribery, this is the exception.
Make Summer Reading Activities FUN
While sending summer reading activities home is great, it’s better if you make it fun! You can make summer reading fun by having a virtual or regular Bingo game. This bingo game doesn’t have to be anything crazy hard. It can simply be things like read under your bed, read with a flashlight under the blanket, or read on the front porch. The sky is really the limit! One year I put Read Your Book to Your Dog and my teacher heart was overflowing with the pictures I was tagged in over the summer.
Another way to make summer reading activities fun is to organize a summer book club. I know you’re thinking there’s no way you want to do more lesson plans over the summer. Just hear me out! All you need to do is organize a virtual book club. You can stay connected through Seesaw or Google Classroom. On these forums you can post your summer reading lists, the tasks, and reading games, what the prizes are, and more! Then, with parent permission, schedule three Zoom or Google Meet get togethers to check in on student progress.
Keep Tracking Reading Activities Simple
This summer reading activity tip goes hand in hand with previous tip. You want to make sure you have a reading log or some way to track student progress and share it over the summer. Sharing it over the summer and getting some feedback will be a big motivator for students. Students can share their progress by taking pictures of themselves reading and sharing it with their class. This may encourage more people to participate because they will get some instant gratification from their friends.
If there are students who you know won’t be able to participate, you can get the books for them and send a long a few passages from the reading comprehension bundles for first grade and the differentiated second through fourth grade bundles. These reading comprehension bundles are great for practicing comprehension, key details, text evidence, and more! This gives all students an opportunity to read over the summer and not lose any of the hard work they already put in.
Reading is an incredibly important skill to have in nearly every single subject. Because it is such an important skill, it’s important for us to encourage summer reading activities that are going to challenge our students to keep up their skills and not lose them to the TV. So, whether you are giving a list of books to read or having a full blown book club, the key is to encourage students to read over the summer. Perhaps with a little help from us this summer, we can close some of the gaps.