I love thinking ahead to holiday reading. The books seem to pile up all fall with hopes that over vacation, I’ll find long periods of time to read and to catch up a bit. Sometimes I find the time and other times we are busy with traveling and family. When readers have extra time coming up, it is natural for us to think ahead to what we might read.
I find myself grabbing celebrity gossip magazines on vacation—a fun kind of reading I allow myself when I have some extra free time. It is during vacation days that I often have time to read the newspaper or to discover new children’s literature blogs while browsing the Internet. This year, I am hoping to catch up on a few longer books that friends have recommended to me.
I will share these plans with my students, and then help them think about their own reading before they check out materials and leave for break. I will tell them that some years, I have had company and could only fit in magazine reading, but that I make it a habit to stay up later reading at night to get in at least one book I’ve been hoping to read. I’ll let them know how much I love to read the paper or magazines at the kitchen table on the days that my mornings aren’t rushed.
I have always used upcoming vacations as an opportunity to invite my students to think ahead in their reading. Before summer, we spend lots of time thinking ahead to our summer reading. I ask my students informally what they might read over the holidays. I want to build this habit of looking forward to vacation reading in my students.
Helping Students Plan for Vacation Reading
When I was a librarian, I saw this time of year as an opportunity for all students to begin to think about vacation reading. People use the library to stock up on books before a long trip or when they’ll have a bit of extra time. I wanted my students to begin thinking ahead to how they might spend that time, and what types of books they might check out to meet their goals.
I created this organizer to help students think through what their vacation plans look like, and where reading might fit into those plans.
I wanted students to check out books and other reading materials for a variety of reasons. They might have extra time in the car or on a plane. They may have relaxing afternoons while parents are at work and the newness of the vacation is over. They may be visiting with younger relatives they want to read to or cousins they could read with. There are many possibilities, and I wanted students to begin to think about some of them this year. I also wanted to be sure to value the same variety in my students’ reading that I have in my vacation reading. I don’t want to limit their reading to books. Magazine reading, visiting Internet sites such as National Geographic for Kids, and other short texts are valued when we talk about our vacation plans.
I told them that I have more time to talk to my children about the books that they’ve been reading and to spend more time at bookstores and libraries, just browsing. I created a bulletin board outside the library where other adults in the building shared their plans for holiday vacation reading, letting the students know how other readers think ahead to their vacation reading.
I wanted to honor all family traditions during the winter break—some will be celebrating holidays, some will be going on vacations, and others will stay home because family is too far away. Framing it as extra time in the day was critical. How will you spend your days, and how will reading fit in? Some kids may not be planning on fitting reading into their vacation days, but planting the possibilities and thinking about what extra time means for a reader may get them thinking differently in the future.
Children need to have control of their reading lives and to think about who they are as readers, so make time for this kind of thinking. We talk about ourselves as readers, so vacation reading is a natural extension of those conversations.