Education Opinion

Summer Reading Plans

By Donalyn Miller — May 30, 2010 2 min read
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School ends in four days and on Friday I worked with my departing students to set reading goals for the summer. Discussing “summer reading slump,” when students’ reading levels decline over the summer because they don’t read, I shared with my students the advice of researcher, Jimmy S. Kim, who recommends that children read four or five books over the summer to maintain their end-of-school-year reading levels. We discussed series we would like to finish, new releases, and the titles we never seemed to get around to during the school year. Students offered spontaneous recommendations and our to-read lists grew even longer.

Each child composed a list of at least five books they plan to read over summer break, and we discussed moments when students could steal reading time like orthodontist appointments, long car trips, airport waits, and rainy days. Thrilled by the endless reading time that awaits them over the summer, many students claimed that summer is one long stolen opportunity to read.

I stressed to my students that the most important books they will ever read are the ones they read after the school year ends. Choosing to read during the summer proves my students are independent readers who don’t need my modeling or expectations to keep reading. They read because they want to, not because anyone requires it.

I have always been a person who has to read. Making summer reading plans is never a problem for me! Freed from grading and lesson planning, I set the ambitious reading goal of one book per day over summer vacation. From June to August, I read almost half of my yearly book allotment. It is hot here in Texas (already close to 100 degrees) and I confess that hiding in my air conditioning, reading for hours, is my favorite summer pastime. For me, summer reading slump refers to my prone posture on the couch, blissfully reading.

Last summer. I read 61 books over summer vacation. I did not meet my book-a-day goal, but I had a great time trying and discovered some of my favorite books of the year. For me, summer break begins on June 6th (we have to make up a snow day on Saturday the 5th) and ends on August 22nd, the day before school starts. This works out to 78 books.

I have an entire bookcase full of books I want to read. Lovingly called Miller Mountain, this cascading avalanche of books beckons to me--promising adventures without leaving home--the ultimate staycation. My biggest challenge is choosing which book I will read first!

Why don’t you join me in my book-a-day challenge? Here is how it works:

Read one book per day for each day of summer vacation. This is an average, so if you read three books one day (Hey, I have done this!) and none the next two, it still counts.

You set your own start date and end date.

Any book qualifies including picture books, nonfiction, professional books, poetry anthologies, or fiction--youth and adult titles.

Keep a list of the books you read and share them every so often via a social networking site like goodreads or Shelfari, a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter feed. You do not have to post reviews, but you can if you wish. Titles will do.

If a book-a-day seems too ambitious, set your own reading goal, and share your plan with others. Is there a series you are dying to finish? A stack of professional magazines on your desk? Books you want to read with students next year? A classic work you’ve never read, but want to?

Don’t you have books calling to you, too?

The opinions expressed in The Book Whisperer are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.