"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Friday, June 7, 2013

Read to Retain

It was Summer Reading week in my library.
Each year, I invite my friend Jean, who works at the public library, to spend the week with me to talk with the students  about the Summer Reading Program.  The goals are two-fold: make the connection/transition to the public library for reading materials when the school library is closed and to get the students excited about reading over the summer.

Another great thing that made this year special is that the public librarians and school librarians got together to develop the summer reading lists. I loved this collaborative experience and look forward to continuing it in the future.  Why did we ever develop two separate lists?  Want to know what we came up with?  Check out the lists at the bottom of this post.
 Here's how the week worked, Jean met with each grade level.  She explained the summer reading program and then talked about a few of the books on the book list.  Each list has 30 varied and diverse titles.  After 15 minutes of talking books, the students had 15-20 minutes to explore the books on the list.  
I loved talking with them about the books and witnessing the power of a great reading list in action: the books had to be pried from the students' hands.

As I was giving the students my "the more you read the more you retain" speech about how the amount of time spent engaged in free voluntary reading (or independent reading) has a direct correlation to the retention of knowledge and material learned the previous year, regardless of subject or discipline.  During the first class, I came up with "Read to Retain." I love this phrase, it is concise and gets the message across.  Given what I witnessed my students were not reading to retain, but reading because they wanted to and because the books are great.  

The real message of the week? **READ**  Read anything and everything -- books in every format, magazines, cereal boxes, game directions, Sunday funnies -- you name it, you've read it...it counts.

Here are the lists: Going into 1
Going into 2
Going into 3
Going into 4
Going into 5
Going into 6


  1. Thank you for these wonderful lists! We are in the process of creating a summer reading requirement for our school system. I am working with elementary (k-6). What have you found to be the most effective way to hold the children accountable for their reading? What requirements should be put on each grade level? Tests when school begins? Journal entries? Projects? Just wondering if you know of effective ways that it can be done. Thank you!

    1. I am likely not the person to ask. I am not sure we want to hold our K-5 students accountable for their summer reading. I do think we can engage them in summer reading and get them to want to read by giving them opportunities to creatively share what they are reading. I love Book Trailers (using iMovie, Animoto, Kid Pix or VoiceThread). I also find students are eager to play the readers' advisory role. I often have the students come up with books for each other by thinking about a book, coming up with a good hook for it. They then have to suggest a reader from the class and explain why they think that person would like it. I don't know the answer, but I am trying!

  2. Thanks so much for the reading list.

  3. Thank you for your great thoughts! I love the idea of creating trailers. So much fun! I will definitely offer this suggestion to my colleagues. As educators, unfortunately we have to hold the children accountable for summer reading or sad to say, some of them won't do it. I will keep thinking of a fun way to make this happen. Thanks again!

    1. What about having them create new book covers or write in a new character or alternate ending? Let me know what you decide and how it goes! Good luck, Mimi!

  4. Love your lists! Thank you so much for helping with them. They have guided our summer reading for years and years!!! We discovered Mitali Perkins because of it (Rickshaw Girl) years ago because of your lists!

    1. Thank you! This year was especially fun because we worked collaboratively with the public librarians. Mitali is wonderful - she's a wonderful author and a great advocate for school libraries.