Besides the obvious antidote to the “summer slide,” summer reading provides opportunities for adolescent students to explore interests, work towards college and career readiness, re-read preferences, and discover new favorites. HOW to get books and other text in the hands of students is the question of the hour at this time every year. Here are five ideas to keep teens reading in the summer.
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1. Library Connections
You might be able to get permission to have your school library opened one (or a few!) days this summer for students to restock their reading shelf. If that’s not an option, public libraries are a great resource for kids in the summer. Most public libraries offer reading incentive programs, interesting classes and programming, and convenient summer hours. Consider inviting a librarian from the local public library into your school near the end of the year to familiarize students with ways they can get involved.
2. Book Swap
Most literature and ELA teachers have extensive classroom and/or personal libraries. Consider opening your library to allow students to “check out” books during summer months. If the thought makes you nervous, you might host a book swap near the end of the school year where students can bring in (appropriate) gently used books, then “shop” from those brought by other students and teachers. This can open students’ eyes to a different world of text than what they might choose or be assigned during the school year.
3. Listen In
Listening to audiobooks may help students improve their listening and vocabulary skills, in addition to simply providing a change of pace to the physical act of reading.
SYNC is a program that allows readers to download two audiobooks per week during the summer! Books are thematically paired—one YA novel with a corresponding Classic or Summer Reading title—each week. Students can sign up to get text or email alerts when new SYNC books are released.
4. Informational Literacy
Just as your summer reading list probably includes texts from Classics to YA to non-fiction, your students likely have wide and varied interests as well. While younger students have no shortage of “literacy practice” subscription sites that districts often provide access to, we want our adolescent students also reading relevant, meaningful texts and then comprehend and apply it to their lives. Of course, Internet access makes pointing students toward valuable non-fiction and informational texts both convenient and challenging to encourage quality summer reading.
Among the many good informational and news sites available are Longreads and The Learning Network. Longreads is a site including both fiction and nonfiction stories from “the best writers and publishers on the web.” Students can search by topic or length. The NYTimes offers The Learning Network, filled with informational texts, videos, images and the like, complete with student “assignments” and discussion prompts and an opportunity for students 13 and older to participate in the comments.
Some teachers choose to update a blog with links to informational texts weekly in the summer, encouraging students to read through an RSS feed reader. Doing so keeps students engaged with the content, reading goals, and continues the momentum of the student-teacher relationship.
So how do we get teens motivated to read this summer, amongst everything else pulling for their attention, without being a weekday presence? Besides incentives from library programs and/or school-wide initiatives, you can play into the social aspects of reading and community that work as a motivator all year long. My son’s district secured funding to allow each family to choose a novel (from a short list) that they commit to reading as a family, with the district providing the book and extension ideas. Though my children are young, I know that the incorporation of this special text into our family’s reading routine will be something they will eagerly anticipate.
If your students’ families aren’t likely to participate (or even if they are!), you might consider reading along with your students’ assigned or chosen reading, then hosting weekly twitter book chats or Google Hangout sessions. As with a teacher’s blog that students can follow, building and continuing relationship momentum is key to motivating students, both during the school year and in summer months.
What do you do to get your students reading in the summer?