Standard ten: By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
It’s our goal and it can’t be accomplished in nine months. Do the Common Core State Standards take the summer off? Not a chance! So what does our work toward Standard Ten look like when school’s not in session? A recent study from the American Psychological Association found that reading achievement was linked to two factors – enjoyment of reading and the ability to summarize. Summarizing is happening all during the school year, and though I think promoting reading for enjoyment is Job One all year round, summer is particularly suited for a focus on reading fun. Here are some ways teachers and school librarians can entice kids to read for enjoyment this summer.
- Help students to make a summer reading plan before school is out. Be sure they write it down. Where will they read? Perhaps at the beach, curled up on their bed, or for the strong-stomached, in the family car. What time of day will they read? They could be readers who want some down time after lunch or need an excuse to keep the flashlight on after bedtime. What will they read? The right answer is, “Whatever you want,” but be sure you help students cast a wide net. Magazines or fan fiction sites or comics or audio books or online cheats for games – whatever pulls them into the worlds of story and information.
- Connect students to the public library. If they don’t have a public library card, bring applications to school, help students fill them out, and encourage that first visit to turn in the application and pick up a card. As part of their summer reading plan, help students locate the nearest public library and have them figure out how they could get there. If possible, invite the children’s or teen librarians to visit and talk about the public library summer reading program. Tell your students you hope to see them at the public library this summer because you’ll be there too.
- If you can organize some money to promote summer reading for fun, use it to take your English Language Learners to a bookstore and give each student as much money as possible so they can choose their own books for summer reading. “One Equally Effective but Lower-Cost Option to Summer School” by Richard L. Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen presents research showing that students who were given $50 – $75 worth of books they chose showed reading gains equal to those students who attended summer school.
- Get books into the hands of kids. Ask parents to donate appropriate, gently used books and have a twenty -five cent book sale. Encourage students to buy books targeted at younger kids and challenge them to find someone littler to read to. Teach older kids how to read picture books out loud and have then make a list of all the times during the summer they will be around younger kids who would love to snuggle up with them for reading time.
- Launch your school wide reading program at the beginning of the summer. On June 1, I hand out the newest version of our Wildcats Read list to all our returning students, distribute it to our feeder schools, and make sure the closest libraries and bookstores have a copy. The Wildcats Read list is made up of fifty titles that were published the previous year and includes choices to appeal to the wide variety of interests and reading levels of our students. Every student and and staff member is challenged to read at least one book from the list during the year. Teachers are encouraged to check out the books from our school library to be read over the summer in print or electronic format. Click here to see the 2014-2015 list.
During the summer the Common Core State Standards are still at work. Don’t be fooled if it looks like they are lazing in a hammock, drinking iced tea, and reading a book.
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