Teachers across all grade levels understand the importance of encouraging students to read during the summer vacation. It is especially important for beginning readers to continue to practice and develop their newly acquired skills on a consistent basis. It is also necessary to provide parents with information on how they can support their child's reading development during the summer.

Often children's own suggestions can serve as a catalyst to inspire others to read. Set aside some time for the class to prepare presentations on favorite books that they want to recommend to their classmates to read over the summer. Create a summer reading list based on your students' favorite books.

You may also want to choose specific books or author recommendations that meet individual children's needs or interests. You can develop individualized summer reading lists based on favorite authors, genres, and interests. Some students may need specific skill building, so you may want to suggest books that have predictable or rhyming text, simple chapter books, or nonfiction books to help children expand real-world knowledge and vocabulary. You may want to send home books with cassettes to encourage families to read together in households where English is not the first language.

Some parents may need specific ideas about where to find books. Highlight book titles from book club order forms that would be beneficial or interesting for their children. Provide them with addresses of local libraries and bookstores and suggest educational television shows or computer programs that support language and literacy development. Include a list of materials that they will need at home to support reading activities, including writing and drawing materials for completing reading logs or book reports.

Family Reading for Emerging Readers (PreK)

Provide parents with a list of books that focuses on activities children typically engage in during the summer — beach trips and family picnics, day camp, outdoor "pretend" adventures, or family vacations. To help parents prepare their children for their return to school at the end of the summer, include books with back-to-school themes. Some great summer read-aloud books that feature favorite characters are Rainbow Fish and the Sea Monster's Cave by Marcus Pfister, Little Miss Spider at Sunnypatch School by David Kirk, and Madeline Says Merci by John Bemelmans Marciano. Encourage families to develop consistent reading routines with their children. Remind them to pack books in backpacks for summer trips and to take along books on cassette so the entire family can enjoy stories together.

Great Picture Books for Early Readers (Grades K-1)

Kindergarten and first grade students will enjoy reading picture books like Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea by Cynthia Rylant, Scooby-Doo Picture Clue #18: Surf Scare by Michelle Nagler, and Eloise Takes a Bawth by Kay Thompson. Include informational books on their reading list to support outdoor learning like In the Tall, Tall Grass by Denise Fleming; Bugs, Bugs, Bugs by Mary Reid and Betsy Chessen; and A Gardner's Alphabet by Mary Azarian. These easy-to-read books are perfect for children with emergent reading skills. Encourage parents to read aloud and reread books with their children so that they will become familiar with the text and learn new words or master words that they have difficulty reading. This will enable children to practice newly acquired reading skills and continue developing skills over the summer vacation. Children who have demonstrated the ability to read aloud with an adult should be encouraged to spend time reading alone.

Develop a summer reading log that includes information that you want children to record after reading a book. Reading logs might include the title, author, main characters, setting, main idea, and a personal review of the book. Invite children to also draw a picture about the story to encourage creative-thinking skills.

Motivating Independent Readers (Grades 2-3)

Motivation is the key ingredient when encouraging children to continue independent reading during their summer vacation. Invite the students to develop a summer reading list of their favorite authors and book topics. Create this list as a class activity. This is a good time to reflect on all the books your students have read during the year — inside and outside the classroom.

You can also provide children and families with a list of popular, easy-to-read series chapter books like Bailey School Kids: Wizards Don't Wear Graduation Gowns by Debbie Dadey and Marcia T. Jones, Captain Underpants and the Wrath of the Wicked Wedgie Woman by Dav Pilkey, Junie B. Jones Is a Graduation Girl by Barbara Park, Cam Jansen and the First Day of School Mystery by David Adler, Henry and Mudge and the Forever Sea by Cynthia Rylant, and Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel. Children are drawn to these appealing main characters, engaging plots, and easy-to-read books that are perfect for independent readers. Once they become drawn to a specific series character they will become motivated to read more books from the series. Many children `become very devoted to their favorite series.

By providing your students with books that are meaningful and interesting to them and giving their parents suggestions on how they can support their children's reading skills, everyone will prepared, motivated, and ready for a summer of great reading.