There are never enough summer days to read all the good books that have been written. However, the power to choose what to read motivates everyone to read more. Gershwin’s aria, Summertime, in the well-known opera, Porgy and Bess, affirms that the “livin’ is easy” during this season. Not only should the living be easy, but the reading should be easy, also.


Importance of Summer Reading


Summer reading affects student achievement. Richard Allington in his article, “Why Summers Matter in the Rich/Poor Achievement Gap,” states that summer reading loss accounts for at least 80 percent of the reading achievement gap by ninth grade. He reassures parents and teachers that when students continue to read during the summer, their reading achievement improves significantly. During the lazy days of summer, reading and writing continue when parents and students create strategies to make “just right” books a part of all the worthwhile endeavors of the season.


Plan for Summer Reading


Every student needs to construct a personal plan for summer reading. This plan includes establishing a daily dedicated time for reading, choosing specific locations for reading, and crafting an ongoing list of tantalizing books that will be consumed throughout June, July, and August. A simple reader’s notebook, chosen, decorated, and kept by the student, serves as a necessary tool for outlining this plan. In later years, this notebook will become a family artifact that captures memories of joyful summers and blissful reading.


Books for Summer Reading


Students should be reading books at their independent reading level so that they can practice and orchestrate the reading strategies they have learned during the school year. Here are links to grade specific lists that capture library books “just right” for the grade level that the student is completing: Kindergarten Book List, First Grade Book List, Second Grade Book List, Third Grade List, Fourth Grade Book List, and Fifth Grade Book List. To encourage some challenges, a reader may choose to read some titles from the grade they are entering.


More Online Resources


In addition to the traditional book lists linked in the previous paragraph, here are several other online sites to consider:


  • Wonderopolis: This is a site that fuels the natural curiosity of children in everyday experiences.
  • DogoNews: This is a great kids’ site for current events.
  • Kidsreads: Children’s literature series are described by content description and age ranges.


Reflections about Reading


In their personalized reader’s notebook, students can record what they read and a few reflective thoughts regarding the text. Another way to reflect is to talk with peers about summer reading. Children are very resourceful. Friends can form “book talk” groups. Students will inspire each other with titles to consider for September reading and beyond. By summer’s end, students will be pleased with all they have read, and they will be motivated to continue their independent reading journeys.


Connections with Lead From Here


Finally, let’s connect summer reading with leadership. Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst, noted reading researchers, share this profound thought about reading:


“We want all students ‘inside the text’ noticing everything, questioning everything, weighing everything they are reading against their lives, the lives of others, and the world around them.”


Doesn’t this align with our Citizen Leaders Framework of Leading Self, Leading with Others, and Changing Your World? Leaders are readers! This process should not stop with summer.

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