Librarianship | Todd Conly | July 06, 2017
During the summer, it’s important to encourage K-12 student leisure reading in order to retain their reading skills and avoid summer slide for the upcoming school year.
Each year, schools around the country publish summer reading lists to encourage children to practice reading while they’re on vacation. To prevent reading loss and the traditional “summer slide,” educators compile lists of books that appeal to a variety of student interests or connect to a larger theme in the school curriculum.
The challenge arises when reading is “suggested” and not “required.” How do parents and teachers encourage reluctant readers to view student leisure reading not as a chore or a requirement, but as a rewarding activity? It’s true that reading four to five books over the summer for middle school students prevents summer reading loss, but does it really solve the underlying problem? Will challenging kids to read books over the summer help them enjoy reading? Here are a few tips to foster a love of reading in students throughout the summer months.
Let Them Read What They Want
Reading levels and other core reading standards need not apply here. The goal is to keep students reading all summer long and reduce the struggle with difficult words or syntax. There are no tests, book reports or deadlines, so keep the reading light. Save the heavier, more difficult books and teacher-assigned readings for the next school year.
Get Them Started on the Right Foot
Picking the right book to start could be the major hurdle when it comes to summer leisure reading. If the book’s premise is not interesting to students, they may procrastinate and take up other activities rather than kicking back and enjoying the story. Have students choose the first book and encourage them to stay with it. If they enjoy the first one, then getting them to choose another one with a similar theme or storyline will make it easier for you and more interesting for them. Start them off with alternative formats such as graphic novels or even audiobooks intended for children and young adults. These formats can motivate lazy readers with exciting visual elements. Alternatively, students can enjoy listening to a famous narrator bring the story to life. Hearing a story read aloud helps to strengthen students’ vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.
How do parents and teachers encourage reluctant readers to view student leisure reading not as a chore or a requirement, but as a rewarding activity?
Keep Them Motivated All Summer Long
During the school year, your students most likely expressed interest in certain topics such as animals, sports, movies, science, etc. Use these interest areas as a place to start if students are having trouble selecting their first book. Student choice when reading is key to keeping them engaged. Another good jump-starter is to introduce students to a book series. Whether it’s fantasy (The Chronicles of Narnia), adventure (The Hunger Games Trilogy) or comedy (Dairy of a Wimpy Kid), there is a book series for all reading levels. Once you have them hooked on the first selection, they will want to continue reading to see what happens next. This will reinforce a real sense of achievement once they finish one book, then two and so on, and gives them momentum to discover additional titles.
Have Them Share Their Experiences
It’s important to keep students’ interest levels up throughout the summer. If your school has a web page or Facebook page where it’s possible to post notes about the young adult or children’s book you are reading, encourage students to interact with you. This is a great format to find out what they are reading. You’ll inspire avid readers to read more and give reluctant readers a little nudge to get involved. In addition, if your school has an e-book portal where students can access a summer reading list, have them download e-books to a mobile device to take with them on vacation, to the beach or in the car. Now you’ve made reading easier and less bulky. Remember, easy access to books gets children reading more.
Summer reading shouldn’t be a chore. Make it your goal to get students involved and inspire them to enjoy reading.
EBSCO eBooks™ has developed a summer reading list to support curricula and leisure reading for grades K-12.
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