As the temperatures begin to heat up in classrooms around the country, I felt it was a good time to discuss summer reading lists!

Summer reading has always been an unorganized disaster that most school districts fail to upgrade year after year. At my previous district we assigned one book per summer. The following September we would begin the year with an essay exam in which students could respond about a book they

A) Did not read

B) Read in June when it was assigned

C) Read the back cover and sparknotes

Personally, I found this exercise to be a waste of time and resources. Plus, students were only assigned to read one book! ONE! I know some districts have reading lists that students can select from or offer free personal pan pizzas when you finish a book…BOOK IT! (clap if you remember!) What a great way to educate and fatten at the same time! Go America!

In order to make summer reading an effective tool in our academic arsenal, we need to first define what we want our students to gain from their summer reading lists. The obvious answer is to get them reading during their summer long down time. That’s the wishful thinking response. Other responses might include preparing students for the initial unit next fall, introducing a theme or simply to expand their world view on books teachers cannot fit in during the school year. While all these examples are practical, there is no checkup through out the summer and no way of collaborating.

Here are my problems with summer reading:

Why is there not summer reading for every subject?

What is our objective and end goal for reading in the summer?

Why is there not summer reading for Faculty and Administration?

Now some of you may work in districts that can answer all of those questions with specific examples of how your district has integrated summer reading programs, but I am here to provide an answer to all of the above through two free web applications.

Goodreads

and

Shelfari

If you are unfamiliar with these applications let me briefly explain what they can do. Enjoy!

In short, Goodreads and Shelfari are social networks for people who love reading and sharing their thoughts on the books they read. Here are some ideas in which you can make Goodreads and Shelfari a part of your summer reading curriculum:

  1. Create a class group and assign a reading list for the summer.
    1. Teacher can create a rubric for discussion posts.
  2. Have students post a discussion topic on the book they are reading and respond to other student posts weekly
  3. Use the online discussions as an icebreaker for the following year or segue way into the first unit.
  4. Include parents in on the summer reading fun! Parents can read along and include their thoughts on the books!
  5. If students do not have computer access it will give them a valid excuse to visit a library (shiver!), Internet café or school districts could (if available) laptops for the summer.
  6. Create a group for cross-curricular reading, i.e. Language Arts and World History.
    1. This is a great way to share good reads (pun intended) concerning education. Most of us take courses throughout the year and are introduced to various new books on our craft. Every teacher should have a good reads or shelfari page!
  7. Create a faculty reading group!
  8. Make reading interactive and fun! Like Facebook!

Hope this helps and I would love to hear ideas and feedback on how your district is approaching summer reading this year.

Tags: 2.0, High, K12, School, Students, goodreads, k-12, lesson, plans, reading, More…shelfari, summer, technology, web

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I wonder...has anyone tried this? Do you have a rubric to offer?
Won't summer reading fall the way of any homework. The kids that need it won't do it and the kids who don't need it will read all sommer. Oh-hummm. Age old problem. Gladwell has a chapter in his book, Outliers, about some studies dealing with kids in at-risk environments vs. middle class kids. The studies show that all the kids in each subgroup stay neck in neck throughout the 9 months of school but the real discrepency comes over the summer where the at risk subgroups lose ground dramatically to the kids who travel, read, go to camps, etc.

Will you provide the books to all kiddos?
I think it's a great idea to get parents involved! I have 2 boys - 13 and 10 years old - and though there's not that much "reading along" (obviously), I quite enjoy books for the 9-12 and young adult age groups, and do end up reading most of the books my kids read. It's fun to be able to discuss stories over dinner or in the car...

Here's a great site (SmartBean) that was launched recently that has all the award winning books (from the UK, Canada and Australia as well in addition to the big name US awards) organized in excellent fashion. The other books listed/recommended in the store (besides the award winning ones) are also great titles.

Happy Reading!

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