Summer Reading Series – Thoughts on Summer Reading


I’ve been out of the blogging game for quite a while so Lee Ann’s Summer Reading Series challenge seems like the perfect time to dip my toes back in.

I’m late to the game so not really sure where I should be on the list, but I’ll just begin with my thoughts on summer reading. I believe that summer reading is important. So, I believe a summer reading assignment is important if that is what will get students to read. I know, unfortunately, that summer reading assignment can do the opposite, and of course, that’s exactly what I would want to avoid.

I used to teach at the same school as Lee Ann and Beth and I thought our start to required summer reading was basically good. One whole-grade book and one choice book. There wasn’t a lot of busy work around either choice. When we returned to school there was a bit of time for new students to catch up. But, most important, there was a subject of common comversation. It was an expectation for everyone in the school. being a rather larger school, we have several English teachers at each grade level. This summer reading assignment allowed for a common conversation, common topic for all students in a grade level, regardless of which teacher they were assigned to. I think those small ties are important in a large school.

Where I am now, summer reading is not required. Cannot be required. But, of course, we have AP teachers who can’t help themselves. I’ve seen the entire textbook assigned for summer reading. I wish I were kidding. Then there’s a test right at the beginning of the year. A heavily-weighted test. This was one teacher’s solution to open access AP classes. If they’re failing in the first week, it’s more likely that they’ll drop the class. Yikes! Hearing that made me very happy that we can’t actually require summer reading. At least I knew that those students and parents could fight that if they chose to.

As a district office resources, I am occassionally asked to discuss or help promote summer reading. I think about how I can promote the love of reading, fight the summer slump, and also avoid accidentally giving teachers permission to torture students over the summer.


5 thoughts on “Summer Reading Series – Thoughts on Summer Reading

  1. spillarke

    Hi Lee,
    I always learn from you–you know that though. I too think we started out at our school (your former school) with good intent and a positive plan. Much of it still works, but as with all things it helps me to revisit my thinking and purpose. I have to admit your AP example made me cringe. I’m trying not to judge or teacher bash though. Still… one big ticket purpose of summer reading used to be (for me, at my previous school) to set students up for success. I remember offering a choice book and Ender’s Game to students in a technology magnet. I knew full well that some students would use a book they’d read the previous year as a choice book and I was fine with that. Now, teaching tenth grade, I’m not as fine with that. I need to explore why. Thanks for joining in the series.

    1. Lee Post author

      I like that approach of setting students up for success. Honestly, in my AP teacher’s defense, he wants his students to do well and this is his way of making sure he has kids who will do well. I don’t think he knows another way yet. But maybe having him think of what will prepare students to start out successfully, and stay successful would be helpful.

  2. glenda funk

    Maybe part of the problem is that teachers feel the burden of deterring summer slump when it should be the responsibility of parents. I know parents who promote reading during the summer even w/out a push from school. Other parents do all they can to keep their kids from reading even during the school year. Of course, if there were easy answers, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.


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