No More Summer-Reading Loss
by: Carrie Cahill, Kathy Horvath, Anne McGill-Franzen, Richard Allington
I picked up this book last October, but finally got around to reading it now since summer is coming up! I enjoy this series of books. They are short and sweet. The first half of the book is grounded in research. The second half is the "do this" half. As with other books in this series, they are short, which means content is short. With our severe lack of time, short and sweet can be great. But sometimes you wish there was more there. I always want a little more info!
Summer reading loss is a topic that I think all teachers have concerns about. It's very easy for us to say that it's out of our control and there is nothing we can do once our students leave the school building. That's true to an extent. But how much time and effort we put into this issue is really up to us.
I think one of the main points to this book is that we have to be doing what we can all school year long to ensure that summer reading happens. The authors state, "the lack of student reading during the summer is actually a reflection of how well we have taught them to be independent readers during the school year." I believe this is true. If students spend almost all of their time having books chosen for them and then having a teacher guide them through the book, then students are not trying things on their own. They are not learning how to get themselves through a frustrating part or moment. They are not learning how to go through a library of books and learn what they like vs what they don't like. They are always being told what to learn or research instead of reading to learn to find out answers to their own questions. They aren't given time to talk to other students about their reading and converse in book talk. That's our job during the school year. If we accomplish it, then when a student does not have us next to them, they know how to continue this pattern on their own. I liked what the authors said, "if we've given students enough scaffolding to support independent reading during the school year, they're more likely to read on their own during the summer." There is a great chart on pages 45-47 that details teacher behaviors in reading practices and the resulting student behaviors.
There is a portion spent talking about ensuring that all kids have books in their hands over the summer, including those coming from a low-socioeconomic status. Ideas are given on how to get books and be able to hand them out.
In the "do this" section there are many ideas that you can use to encourage student reading. I didn't see any ground-breaking ideas, most were some version of something I've seen before. But it got my mind churning and thinking, which is always good too!
I've been in classrooms where book talking and the idea of reading is something we do in our lives has been shown to the students daily. I think this final quote from the book is so true, "if, during the school year, students can learn that reading is joyful, that it can be a tool to express and develop their identity and something they can get better at, then they'll keep doing it during the summer."