As the final bell rings to end the school year, my middle school students look forward to summer days free from the demands of school and homework. They are ready to trade books and math problems for swimming, camping, watching television, and playing video games. Even though some of them look at me with horror, I encourage them to read through the summer.
For those students who stop reading altogether for the summer, the losses pile up. Through just six years of elementary school, not reading through the summer can lead to a loss of 1.5 years of reading development (International Reading Association ). By the time students reach middle and high school, the losses are even larger.
It doesn’t take much reading–just six books–to maintain and even improve reading skills over the summer according to Julie M. Wood, Ed.D. on PBS Parents . Even better news? Summer reading can be filled with fun instead of drudgery. Discover the pleasure of summer reading with these tips.
Pursue your passions. Whether you love baseball or ballet, there is something you can read to connect with what you love. Discover books–whether fact or fiction–that explore whatever topic you want to learn. Don’t stop with just books. There are websites and blogs about anything and everything. Research your next adventure and try out what you read. Connect with your favorite authors through their websites and blogs. Now’s your chance to ask the question you’ve always wanted to know. Pore over the daily sports pages with the athlete in the house or anticipate the next issue of a hobby magazine that arrives in the mail.
Check out your local library. Most libraries sponsor summer reading programs that offer prizes and activities for all ages from preschool story hours to entertainment for the whole family. Our local library is offering a Harry Potter themed lock-in for teens and a penguin visit from a nearby zoo. In addition to letting you take home stacks of books to read, many libraries offer digital downloads as well. Load up your e-reader with the latest bestseller or download an audiobook to listen to on the go.
Find your reading hideout. Who wants to stay inside when the weather is warm and the sun is shining? Take your book and read in the great outdoors. Would you rather read while swaying in a porch swing or stretched out in a hammock? Curl up under a tree or climb to the top branches with a book in tow. Stock your beach bag with a book so you can read whether you are lounging by the pool or wiggling your toes in the sand. Read ghost stories by flashlight around a campfire.
Pack a book to go. If your vacation plans involve a long car trip or just many short trips around town, try out an audiobook in the car. Check them out for free from your local library or download the titles for older teens from Sync YA Literature into Your Earphones . Two titles (paired classic and contemporary literature for young adults) are offered each week from May 15 through August 20). Keep a book in the car to read all those times you are stuck waiting. If you travel over the summer, look for books that connect with your destination. Books make great souvenirs.
Before we know it, summer will be gone. Don’t let those long, lazy days slip by without finding a few good books.