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May 1, 2012 Are You Up for the Challenge? Gearing Up for Summer Reading By Addie Albano
Grades 6–8

    Where has the time gone?! It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the end of the school year and summer is just around the corner. With so much going on, it's hard to imagine even MORE planning, but there is no time like the present to prepare students for the long months ahead. Summer reading is already on my mind, and despite the “no more teachers, no more books” mantra many middle-schoolers employ, I can’t wait to introduce ways to make reading a staple over break. Although summer reading may sound like an oxymoron, there are many ways to entice students.



    Challenge Students Throughout the Year

    I have found that challenging students from the beginning of the year makes the transition into summer reading easier. On the first day of school I introduced my Reading Counts contest to a group of hesitant participants. I explained that each student would receive points for achieving certain reading goals throughout each semester in the form of a bookmark, and that at the end of the year, the person with the highest number of points would be named the winner. It didn’t take long for their competitive juices to start flowing. Soon my group was clamoring around the point poster to see who was in the lead. I was surprised that a simple bookmark was enough to motivate some students to push forward, especially in the middle of the year, but those who stuck with it are now anxiously awaiting their prizes.


    Summer Reading Challenge

    The question is, how do you continue the momentum when school ends? Scholastic’s Summer Challenge is the perfect solution. Beginning on May 1, this exciting reading competition is geared towards motivating even the most reluctant reader to pick up a book and receive recognition for their efforts. A perfect spot to host your “launch party” should be your school library. I enlisted our resident librarian and literary guru Christine Prinzi for assistance. Using the SMART Board, Christine brought up the details of the challenge and found ways to pique my class's interest. Each student received a Young Adult book list, filled with old and new literary favorites, and was given time to check out available books from the library. After completing a novel, they will simply run over the title on the list with a highlighter or write in the name of books not indicated on the list.



    Read for the World Record

    Most students were intrigued by the “Read for the World Record,” which challenges students to log their reading minutes. Never to be put off by a challenge, my students quickly vowed to make Randolph Jr./Sr. High School one of the 20 schools featured in the 2013 Scholastic Book of World Records. We decided to put a timer on my desk to help get us started. This summer I will move the timer to my school Web site, where I will display the number of reading minutes each student emails me until August, when we will have our before-school Open House. As a further incentive, each student who brings in their reading list will qualify for a drawing on that night. This year I have decided to make the grand prize a backpack filled with back-to-school essentials and other coveted goodies. What a great way to increase attendance!

    If that wasn’t enough, I’ve decided to enlist some parental support. After much communication, it was obvious that some parents were extremely willing to assist their child, but either had limited resources to do so or were unsure where to begin. A great resource to assist me in this endeavor is Scholastic’s Summer Express, which contains hundreds of learning activities that parents can complete with their child each week as well as a journal entry sheet, recommended reading list, and certificate of completion. You may even decide to personalize a packet based on individual student need. Simply take a gallon Ziploc bag and fill it with photocopies of content-related activities (available in the areas of vocabulary, grammar, writing, reading, and math) and the answer sheets, and then decorate the cover with each student’s name.

    Finally, share YOUR summer reading agenda with the class. I love the looks on my students' faces when I tell them that I am getting in on the action as well.


    How do you promote summer reading? Any good book suggestions?



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Susan Cheyney