“No more pencils. No more books. No more teacher’s…”
WAIT A MINUTE! No more BOOKS? That’s crazy talk!
Summer reading is the most fun ever.
Admittedly, I am a reader. People like me regularly amass a stack of books each school year. That stack then takes up a significant amount of room in our suitcases when we pack for summer vacation. Beach reading time is that lose yourself in a book reading time during which you consume your own wonderful idleness, with one after another good reads from your portable book buffet.
However, let’s return to what I wrote above.
Now—right now—with school just ending, is when young readers are salivating about delicious amounts of free time up in the tree house or on the couch or traveling in the back seat, effectively all alone with their dreamy delicacies. It’s in those place they can devour the next book in a favored series, taste a new author recommended by a friend, savor the latest book in a favored genre and so on. Summertime ecstasy!
We readers slide into summer reading like we slide into the cool waters of a swimming pool or lake. That’s the kind of summer slide we should all work toward offering children, especially given the inarguably powerful benefits of reading and its value for boosting all kinds of achievement in the upcoming year.
Sadly, some kids get left behind in the summer book-blowout. Those youngsters also slide, but backward, academically. Non-readers suffer in measurable ways.
Non-readers are so for two reasons:
- They don’t have sufficient access to personally powerful books and so never get caught up in the magic of reading, or
- We adults have failed them, by focusing insufficient support for them to learn how to find that perfect book.
While I’ve long been an advocate of teaching to the heart before teaching to the head, here are some powerful writings that have added fuel to my internal fire on this crucial matter:
- One of my favorite blogs is from the Nerdy Book Club. This week’s topic just happened to be The Top 10 Authors my Students Read Everything By. Shana Karnes’ list is for 11th graders, but there are similar lists out there for every age group and interest. See your child’s librarian for guidance in finding the authors your kids can’t resist.
- Another blog is The Top 10 Ideas to Promote Summer Reading. It was written for teachers, but there’s nothing here that active and involved moms and dads couldn’t incorporate into their parenting.
- I’ve just been enjoying Jeff Wilhelm and Michael Smith’s study of adolescent readers’ motivations for reading. The pleasure that comes from free book choice, casual book conversation and a reading-nurturing context are key, and the lessons here could be applied all up and down the grades.
- I also mustn’t overlook the powerful book by Allington and McGill-Franzen on averting summer reading loss, Summer Reading. I recommend the interview with the author in the School Library Journal.
Kids are going to be sliding one way or the other this summer. Thankfully there are great resources to help teachers and parents give kids a wonderful nudge, sending them along the lovely slide to the rewards of summer reading.
 Krashen, S. (2004) The Power of Reading: Insights from Research 2nd Edition. Portsmouth: Heinemann.
 Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read what they Want, by Jeffrey Wilhelm, Michael Smith and Sharon Fransen. This compact book from Scholastic (2014)