I have always worked hard to prepare my students for a summer of reading. When I was a classroom teacher, we spent quite a bit of time during our last few weeks of school thinking ahead to summer reading. Instead of a log or an assignment, I wanted my students to see summer as an opportunity to get to those books they had been hoping to read, and to see summer reading as an invitation for lots of reading.
This year, however, the task is a little bit different. As the school media specialist, I work with the entire school. I could just send home a summer reading log, but I have to think about my purpose. Any summer reading “assignment” I give has to match the larger goals I have for my students as readers. What big messages am I giving students about summer reading?
I have struggled with home reading logs for my entire teaching career. I want my students to read at home, but I don’t want reading to become an “assignment.” Instead, I want it to become a habit, a ritual they look forward to each day. Over the years, I have learned that the only time that these reading logs “work” is when I bring the conversation back to school somehow. When I did weekly home reading logs with my 4th graders, it was important that we spent time sharing our home reading with others, as well as connecting the learning to what we were doing in the classroom.
When I think about this summer’s reading log, I realize I am not interested in knowing how many books my students read, or how many minutes they spend poring over texts each day. I don’t want to give prizes or stickers for turning in a log. Instead, I want them to discover new books and talk about those books with others. When I think ahead to the the community of readers I’ll be building next year, I want to find more time for kids to network with each other to find books they love, and to talk about their reading. One of my goals is to expand the ways students in grades K-5 can share books, by giving them space on the library website to write about books that they think others might enjoy.
Making Summer Reading an Invitation
I am planning to send kids and staff off this summer with the invitation to come back in the fall to share the great books that they find. We’ll use the attached survey to think ahead to summer reading, and they can also use it to keep track of the books they might want to share. I am more interested in the message I am giving kids about summer reading than the form they complete.
In the fall, we’ll come back together as a community of readers — hopefully after spending the summer finding great new reads that we are dying to share! Some kids may have their forms in hand, and others may not. Either way, we’ll all come back expecting to talk about books that we’ve loved and to discover new titles from friends. I’ll make time for informal sharing, highlight books in the library that students mention, and create invitations to include a book review on the website.
I have hopes that this will start the next school year off with terrific conversations. The kids will have an authentic reason to read over the summer and will come back ready to build relationships with others around books.
You can download my summer survey template by clicking here.