#SOL15: Summer Reading – How important is it?

What are your summer reading plans?

Do you have a stack of books to be read?  A reading group that will meet? Regular trips to the library?

Why do you read in the summer?

I’m currently revisiting multiple books and chapters on “mentor texts”.  I’m not reading straight through.  I’m looking for specific details to flag and reread AGAIN at a later date.  Reading for fun is off the list as the school year winds down and I prep for summer classes.  My reading doesn’t stop.  But I find that my reading shifts and there is a surge in my “Reading to Locate Information” habit that overpowers my “Reading for Fun” habit.

What do your reading habits look like?  Do they change in the summer time?  Do you make time for leisurely reading?  How do we explain our “habits” to our students?  Does all reading have to be “serious reading”?

Why should students read at home?

I’m sure that many of you are familiar with this graphic.

why read

But what about this one that Donalyn Miller posted on Twitter this week?

summer reading loss

The title of the graph is “Low Income Students Fall 2.5 to 3 Years Behind by Grade 5”. The yellow line shows the cumulative growth of low income students vs. the blue line for middle class students.  

What should we do?

Richard Allington says that 80% of the summer reading loss is tied to income.  That’s an astonishing fact that does seem to be supported by the graph above.  His data from sending 10 books home for students in Florida emphasizes the importance of students reading ALL.YEAR.LONG! For more ideas about summer reading programs check out his book.


Additional resources from Richard Allington can be found on his website here.

Why is it important for students to continue to read in the summer? (Not necessarily assigned book lists- but choice in reading!)

How can we encourage reading ALL.Year.Long?

How do students become habitual readers?


Check out the writers, readers and teachers who are “slicing” here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy at “Two Writing Teachers” for creating a place to share our work.  So grateful for this entire community of writers who also read, write and support each other!

25 responses

  1. We have a pretty awesome librarian at our school, who works tirelessly throughout the year doing fundraisers and Scholastic Book Fairs. The money raised at the end of the year isn’t spent on adding books to the school library- it is given out in “book buck awards” so that low income kids can purchase a book or two at the library. He lets them buy books from our summer reading lists, as well as books that the kids are drawn towards. Thanks for reminding me how lucky I am!!

    1. Kathleen,
      You and your students are lucky. Choosing 10 books to read proved to help readers fight the “summer reading slump” in Allington’s research. That’s pretty darned efficient as well as cost-effective!

      Thanks for comenting!

  2. Fran, I am such a proponent of summer reading. I can’t wait to start reading for fun!

    1. Carol,
      So many reasons to read . . . Cannot think of a single “why not” reason!

      Thanks for commenting!

  3. My typical summer reading is catching up on titles I didn’t have time for during the school year (usually fiction). The joy in summer reading to me is location. I can sit in the shade with a breeze and iced tea at hand on my patio all afternoon long.
    I wish there was some way to get parents to recognize the importance of continuing reading. Too many low income families don’t even have library cards. Reading is not a priority.

    1. We have some buildings where teachers literally “field trip” to the local library so the kiddos can get their library cards!

      The days where I can grab a quick picnic lunch with a favorite book are some of my faves for the summer!

  4. Now that I am retired I do admit that most of my reading is “fun” reading. I have a stack of books piled by my chair by such authors as Jeffrey Deaver and James Patterson. I was at B & N the other day and saw a list of upcoming novel release dates and know I will be in line to buy some of them. Then there are those free and bargain books on my Kindle.

    1. I so love the Kindle Unlimited books – I’m getting through a nice variety when I have time. I had books for fun and a bit of fun for a summer class while waiting for the new grandson. I am NEVER without a book or a device to read from!!! ❤

  5. sallydonnelly11 | Reply

    I love your lines:
    But I find that my reading shifts and there is a surge in my “Reading to Locate Information” habit that overpowers my “Reading for Fun” habit.

    You really have me thinking about naming my reading habit and thinking about how I’ll share this with students. This summer I plan to read like a 3rd grader as I am changing from 5th gr writing teacher to 3rd gr classroom teacher. But I will also be aping attention to my habits as I read! Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Sally,
      You will love 3rd grade! What awesomeness for you!

      The one thing I have perhaps become REALLY OCD about is “Naming”. I name all kinds of behaviors. My “fun as I go!”

      I often wonder how my “voice” sounds in my writing! You just gave me a clue! Thank you!

  6. Great graphic –we have not seen it before. Thanks for sharing.
    Clare and Tammy

    1. Interesting graphic – although a bit blurry! Looking forward to seeing you in about 6 weeks at ILA – St. Louis – my neck of the woods! 🙂

  7. I love to read because I get to enjoy people, places, and adventures I wouldn’t have in my own life! I encourage students to read because it’s fun! I’ll be at ILA in St. Louis! I can’t wait to meet you! We should have a “Slicers” meeting!

    1. OH! Yes! We should have a “Slicers” meeting. I know Clare and Tammy will be there. Jennifer Serravello, Dr. Mary Howard – trying to think of what other twitter/slicer folks! Friday institute? ??

  8. This is such an important topic. I love all of your visuals! Looking forward to sharing this with others.

    1. Thanks, Stacey! It seemed short but it is so critical when we think about opportunities for all kiddos to read, write, speak, listen, and THINK during the summer months!

  9. We spend the last few days of school making book plans for the summer – my kids take photographs and create a google doc file on their phones so that they will always have ideas for what to read next. And you know that they will always have those phones with them!

    1. Tara,
      How clever to put those on their phones! Yes, they will always have their phones! Great planning! 🙂

  10. Fran, I chuckled because my summer reading plans are the exact opposite of yours. No more reading to find information – I will only read for fun and pleasure. I. Can’t. Wait. Enjoy your summer – and thanks for this important information!

    1. Dana,
      I know you are reading for fun . . . but what happens when the Murphy girls want to know something? I bet there is reading for information to answer the girls’ questions!

      Enjoy your summer! I’m thinking retiring to a lake – kids visiting grandparents at the lake will be fun!

  11. I plan on reading for fun and to prepare for next year. My big professional reads for the summer are the Calkins grade level writing units of study for grades K-5. I hope to get those finished. I also just received Jennifer Serravallo’s new book yesterday. Can’t wait to dive in! I love the visuals you shared about summer reading loss. I want to check out your Allington links. Thanks, Fran!

    1. Erin,
      Jennifer’s book is a treasure. I keep picking it up and setting the timer for just 10 minutes. It’s amazing. I also have Colleen’s “The Unstoppable Writing Teacher” and then on to Reading Units of Study. It will be a great reading summer!

      Enjoy! ❤

  12. Hmmm – summer reading plans! Those three works evoke sweet memories. Trying to figure out how to stay in touch and motivate readers during the summer. We’re planning monthly meetings of our after school book club at the public library and inviting rising 6th graders to join us.

    1. Ramona,
      So important to stay in touch and motivate readers with conversations – face to face or even virtual with chats. Keeping the “reading habit” so that students don’t slide is “critical”!

      Thanks for commenting!

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