by Maryann McBride
It’s summer and in Maryland that means blue crabs, sweet corn, and a good book! But are your students reading this summer, and if they aren’t, will they suffer the summer slide? The loss of reading levels happens to many children, and at-risk children are especially susceptible.
Dr. C.C. Bates and I have documented a way to decrease the slide for some students and help others maintain their achievements. We are so fortunate at the Clemson University Reading Recovery and Early Literacy Training Center for South Carolina, in cooperation with Coach Dabo and Kathleen Swinney’s All In Team Foundation and Scholastic Books, to be able to provide all of the children who successfully discontinue their lessons with 10 books for summer reading. We carefully select these books so that they will be easy enough for the kids to read independently. We also look for books with familiar characters, themes, and topics that will capture the children’s interest.
Getting books into the hands of kids is only one part of preventing summer slide. Getting children to read and reread books is tricky! Here are some of the steps and ideas we have found helpful.
First of all, we make a big deal out of the distribution of the books. This year, 150 children actually came to Clemson to receive their books. They walked through a line formed by the Tiger Band and Clemson’s Rally Cats. They heard a book read by Mrs. Swinney and members of the Clemson Tiger football team. Skins Hotdogs, a local southern hot dog restaurant, provided a hot dog lunch and The Pound Cake Man, a local food truck, gave the kids a “tiger” pound cake. Other kids across the state had other celebrations including cupcakes with flags representing their favorite books.
We also encourage teachers to introduce and read the selected books to the children. This helps with the unusual vocabulary, concepts, and ideas the books may contain. Many of the children have limited help at home.
Teachers have also found it helpful to give the children a stuffed animal to read with as a buddy. Local dollar stores had a run on these as well as small flashlights for the kids to use to read under the covers.
To remind the children to keep reading, some teachers send their students post cards from their summer vacations. The first post cards my students got were from Louisville, Kentucky, the site of this year’s Teacher Leader Institute. Other teachers make arrangements with parents to call throughout the summer.
Another school district opens its library once a week, alternating morning and afternoon so that parents who are working different shifts can bring their children. They have story time, a project, and a snack. They can trade books and the Reading Recovery teachers have familiar reading books for them to borrow and exchange.
One group has personal bookmobiles. They pull up to various apartment complexes and day care centers and provide children with treats and KEEP BOOKS purchased from The Ohio State University. Many other companies have special summer deals as well.
Successful summer reading projects need to create opportunity, motivation, and reminders throughout the summer months. Hopefully, some of these ideas will keep them reading!
Maryann McBride is a Reading Recovery teacher leader at Clemson University. Follow her on Twitter @Maryann081153
Maryann McBride will be a speaker at the 2019 National Reading Recovery & K-6 Literacy Conference, February 9-12, in Columbus, OH. Her session is titled, “Fluent, Flexible, and Fast with Higher Level Text”.
Any views or claims expressed in The Reading Recovery Connections Blog are those of individual authors, not RRCNA.