Summer vacation is fast approaching for students and educators across the United States. Although it is a time for recovery and rest, the long break poses a major threat to our students’ progress—the summer slide. Research shows that children who do not read over their summer vacation can lose significant levels of reading progress in their time out of school.

The quick solution has always been for us to provide a summer reading list. It is often likely to end up crumpled in a backpack whose summer destiny lies somewhere in the back of a closet. Or it becomes a dreaded shadow hanging over our students’ heads all summer long. Recently, I was in a classroom and a student said to me:

“We have books we have to read in the summer because they are on the list but then no one even ever talks to us about them once we get back to school.”

Let us motivate and inspire our students to help them pursue their reading journeys once the summer heat moves in by joining with them to savor the extraordinary powers of the written word.

Let the online universe create a dynamic new impact upon your students as readers.

Your readers will enjoy using an online blog or forum to keep in touch with you and each other over the summer, sharing book and text titles and reviewing favorites; you can easily put together your own website with services like Edublogs or WikiSpaces. Both of these hosts allow students to access and create book recommendations and discussions online. VoiceThread is another fabulous online tool that can bring students together over the summer, providing a platform for sharing ideas, opinions and reflections as they read the same text in different places, or as they share perspectives on their independent reading lives.

More than that, these sites offer a great way for students to stay connected, or can be an excellent tool for new teachers to get to know upcoming students as readers. Use these tools before the school year ends. Bring your students into the conversation early so they are thinking about what they are looking forward to reading over the summer and help to create the book recommendations as a group to get each other excited and motivated.

Think of the coming summer as an opportunity to talk with your students about “beach reading.”

Whether or not we live near the beach, it is important to give our students that wonderful sensation of what it feels like to get lost inside a good read on a languid day. It is not Stop summer slide with Where the Wild Things Arejust the “classics” on a book list that make us strong readers, but the quick, light reads that build and maintain our stamina. If we model this and share this with our students, they will be less likely to feel guilty about their own summer reading pleasures, and dig in to read more minutes than ever before.

Encourage their readings of joke books, graphic novels, and comics; that may be just the thing for keeping your students reading through the summer. The legendary author and illustrator Maurice Sendak said that comic books were his biggest influence as a young reader. Share this with your students, to let them know that all kinds of reading matter, and especially in vacation periods, for building a wide sense of one’s reading life as a place to not only explore and delve deep, but to skim lightly and to dip into new passions.

Summer reading is a great opportunity for modeling with your students the importance of a reading diet well-balanced by genre diversity.

Encourage your students to browse informational texts, building up non-fiction reading skills—an important element of curriculum standards. Let them know how you plan to follow your passions over the summer. Perhaps you love to garden, so you will read a gardening book. Ask your students to record their passions and make a summer “reading plan” for how they will collect informational texts to support their plan.

Summer nights are a beautiful time for children to delve into poetry and practice reading aloud to their tired working parents when they come home at the end of the day. We cannot get enough of the collections by Paul Janeczco, James Stevenson, Arnold Adoff and Naomi Nye. Talk with your students about the sheer magic of getting lost in a winding story or series of them. We love Colin Meloy’s Wildwood, C. Alexander London’s Accidental Adventures Series and anything by Sharon Creech.


Stop summer slide with WildwoodColin Meloy Teacher Resources Button We Are Not Eaten by Yaks by C. Alexander London C. Alexander London Stop summer slide with Sharon Creech Collections Sharon Creech Collections Teacher Resources Button


Even in the 21st century when it seems like distractions are endless, let us never underestimate the hunger a child may have toStop summer slide with Come on, Rain! by Karen Hesse create his or her own world by swimming in the worlds inside the pages of a book.

As teachers, we can nurture and feed that hunger by modeling our own authentic reading lives, and by valuing their unique ones. Whether your students will be under a tree or sitting on the stoop of an apartment building this summer, your active engagement in their reading lives will send them a lifelong message that reading matters, that it belongs to them and that they can be empowered by it. In the book Come On, Rain! by Karen Hesse Teacher Resources Button, we read about the magic and delight the mothers share with their little girls as the hot summer day turns to a downpour. All is joyous. Let all of our summer reading experiences feel this transformational. We can only do this if we all join in together.

Happy summer reading!


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