Image Map

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Slide into Summer Fun & Learning (Part 1)

Summer vacation is here and already I'm hearing, "Mom, I'm bored, what can I do?"  In my daughter's defense it has been raining since school let out a few days ago.  Of course I suggested she start her summer reading project but was met with a huge "UGG!!"

As a teacher (and mom) I know it is important to keep those skills current and avoid the 'summer slide'

Many school systems have required reading and even math packets for students to complete during the summer break.  I'm going out on a limb by saying that although we want to keep our students' skills honed I'm not sure REQUIRED reading and math packets will do the trick.  It has always been a struggle to get my own kids to complete their summer reading.  We would be vacationing on Cape Cod that last week in August and I'd be hounding them to read their book.  Now, tell me how that instills the love of reading or promotes the retention of skills?

So what is the answer?  How can we get our children (or students) to keep learning during the summer?

There are no sure-fire fixes. However, a few suggestions to help keep the kids engaged in summer reading include: finding audio books, participate in summer reading challenges or read with family members.

Audio Books:  Find stories that can be plopped onto their iPods or MP3 players.  They can listen to a book while riding in the car or while falling asleep.  Pair the audio with the book and it's even better.  Some places offer the books for free! See a sampling below:

87 Places for Free Audio Books OnLine - offers links to sites that legally offer free audio books.

LibriVox - provides free books in the public domain   

Learn Out Loud - highlights 50 of the top free audio books

Summer Reading Challenges:  Many local libraries promote summer reading challenges.  While this is not effective for all children, some really enjoy a challenge.  Check out these two challenges:

SCHOLASTIC SUMMER CHALLENGE - students log their summer reading minutes and enter a sweepstakes (free and no email is necessary).

BARNES & NOBLEKids read 8 books, record them in a downloadable journal and receive a free book off a list from Barnes & Noble.

PBS KIDS Summer Reading Community Challenge: A six week program to help kids discover the joys of reading.  Sign up for receive Emails with tips provided to guide you and your child.

Read Along with your child:  It might be helpful if you read the same book as your child.  Take turns reading it aloud together.  Make it a family event!  You will model reading and most likely have conversations around the same book. You can even try some of these Pre-Reading Strategies with your child!

I wish there were some "magic" that would help get children to LOVE to read!  Since there isn't, we sometimes have to find creative ways in which to share the joy of reading with our children.  Whether it is through a magazine, blog, graphic novel,  poetry or museum plaque, we need to engage our children and help motivate them to read!

Please share your ideas on how to promote reading in the comment section!


  1. How about an interactive site where you pose questions throughout the summer to different characters in the books that are assigned, and have the students respond as if they were that character?
    What would "Bella" do if...

  2. Karen, I love that idea. It might take some pre-planning, but it would be fun for the kids. I would love to hear their comments.

  3. Nice post, Nancy. You thought of some good ideas and your mention of museum plaques was a good one. My suggestion goes with that one. Take a book along on a road trip that ties in to a destination. For instance, Across Five Aprils and southern Illinois. Or The Donner Party and the Sierra Nevada. Or a book about Davey Crockett and the Alamo. Read it aloud in the car, or listen to it on audio with the whole family. When you arrive at the destination, whether or not you have finished the book, the museum plaques and sites will be more engaging, and the family will look forward to finishing the book. And maybe even other books on the same topic.

  4. Denise,
    Great ideas and great book suggestions. It's interesting that our family always seems to do it 'backwards'. We visit the places and then read up on them! It makes much more sense to get excited about going somewhere when you have a bit of background knowledge!

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. I loved it - thanks for including the sites where you can download the free books on tape. I love those things!!! They really helped my daughter finish her reading last year and we both enjoyed it. It was like going back in time - as if we were like The Waltons.

    Teresa :)

  6. Nancy,

    Great ideas - too often assigned summer reading has unintended consequences. For many kids, it turns them off to reading instead of instilling in them a love for reading.
    Two books that have influenced my thoughts about reading are:
    The Power of Reading by Krashen
    Readicide: How Schools Kill Reading and what we can do about it by Gallagher

    Highly recommend them.
    And, as your post has pointed out, reading can include listening to books. For kids who struggle with fluency and decoding, encouraging them to listen to books provides the exposure to grade level vocabulary and concepts and expands their world.

    Love your blog!

  7. Thank you Karen for responding. I will certainly add those books to my summer reading list. Totally interested in the book by Gallagher.I am currently reading "The Book Whisperer" which speaks to students reading books of their own choosing.

    As far as listening to books...well when I was in your class at Simmons you validated the use of audio to increase learning. All too often we hear that it is 'cheating'. It really does provide exposure and modeling as well.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments.


I welcome your comments and ideas!!

Directions for posting:

1) Choose "Choose an Identity " first. If you don't have a Google/Blogger account, you can choose Name/URL and type in your name, then place the web site that best describes you in the URL (i.e. If you do not have a URL you can leave that blank. You can also choose "Anonymous" which will leave the comment but not your name.

2) Feel free to "Preview" your comment to see what it will look like when posted.

3) Select "Post Comment" when you're ready. (Sometimes this might need to be done more than once.)

4) NOTE: Before posting a comment I will copy it, in the event there is a problem, that way I haven't lost my comment and can try to post it again.

5) Thank you Tracy Watanabe for these directions to post!

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.