Mornings in the classroom are usually quite busy. As the many students were unpacking and I was getting organized for the day, one of my sweet first graders approached my desk.
He stated, “My mom wants me to read everyday this summer but I don’t know what to read. It would also be cool if I got a reward for reading everyday.”
I paused what I was doing and soaked in his words. He made a good point and knew I could take those words and apply them to my students.
My response was, “I would love for you to read over summer break. Reading for pleasure will continue to help your brain grow and learn. You should find different types of books you will enjoy reading. Let me think about the reward, maybe something can be arranged.”
I know I want my students to read over summer break and I plan to provide them with some resources. How can I set them up for success and what type of incentive can I offer to help motivate my students?
Use these steps to encourage your students to read this summer.
1. Put together a Summer Reading Challenge packet.
I use free resources from a variety of websites to put together something my students will think is enjoyable. I don’t want them to see this as work, but as a fun challenge. The packet consists of a bookmark, reading door hanger, sticker chart with stickers, recommended book list, information for the parents and the challenge worksheets for the students. The worksheets include topics like, Summer reading Bingo, Reading Scavenger Hunt, and Reading Response Journal prompts.
2. Explore different genres within your classroom.
Over the course of the school year you have read a variety of texts. You have shared many genres with students and integrated learning objectives with those stories. Remind students to select books according to their interests and you can read books for personal enjoyment.
In my class we have a “Genre of the Week”. During that week I have a student choose a book from our classroom library as our afternoon read aloud. This read aloud does not have a planned lesson but to show students how to read for pleasure. We discuss the genre of the book and share other book titles related to that genre. At the conclusion of the week we are able to discuss story elements related to that genre and what we have observed with each book.
Toward the end of the year, the books selected are read by the students. They feel proud to share a book they enjoy and eager to read in front of their classmates. Inform students understand that you can read any type of text on any format.
3. Provide parents and students with local library information.
Explore the local libraries in your community. Create a collaborative list of your district's libraries. Include locations, hours of operations, and special events that are planned. This provides parents with a free activity to do with their children and an opportunity to check out books.
4. Share alternative types of reading formats.
Bring students attention to the idea of different reading formats. Share resources such as children magazines, newspapers, brochures, and cookbooks. Take time in the classroom to read those alternative types of texts on paper and on electronic devices. Compile a list of suggestions to give to parents to encourage reading over the summer. A few examples are, Have your child help you cook a meal by reading the recipe and directions. Pick up a brochure while on vacation or visiting some place this summer. Have your child read the brochure to you. Pick up your local newspaper and have your child read and appropriate article.
5. Create a classroom book list.
Have each student write down his or her five favorite books. Using all the students lists, assemble a class book list. You should include the book title, author, genre, and reading level. This will help students and parents select the right books.
6. Let parents and students know about summer reading incentive programs.
Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT program encourages students to read by offering a Pizza reward. There is additional information and resources for parents on their website. Scholastic also has a Happy Camper Summer Reading Challenge. Students are encouraged to log their reading minutes to participate in weekly challenges, earn digital rewards, and enter to win prizes. Barnes and Noble also has a summer reading program where a child can earn a free book for reading eight books.
Of course parents can provide other incentives for reading such as screen time, special ice cream treat, friend camp out, etc.
7. Offer incentives for students once they return the following school year.
This is by far the most powerful tool for students. When summer reading is given, present it as a challenge. Using the summer reading challenge kit, encourage students to complete the challenge for a reward when they return to school. Based on the individual teacher and school, the reward can be provided by you as their current teacher or their next year's teacher. Just make sure to communicate plans with those teachers. Some reward ideas could by pizza lunch, ice cream celebration, pick a big prize from the treasure box, or the most popular read your favorite book to students in a younger grade. The summer reading challenge kit is meant to be fun and providing a reward will ensure more students will do some type of reading over the break.
If you want to encourage your students to read over summer break you need to express the importance why you want them to read. Make your students feel part of the reading challenge and know they will be reward in more than one way once they return to school next year.