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Age 3 through 8th grade

Selecting Your Summer Reading Books

  • Teaching and Learning
Ms. Vita Biddle

Aah! Summer! This time of year brings along BBQs, bugs, s’mores, and swimming. And, for many students, it also brings required summer reading. Now...whether your child is an avid reader or a reluctant one, the most important step in the summer reading process lies in the selection of the right book if given a choice for required reading.  

Teachers create reading lists with curriculum goals, both social and academic, in mind. When students “have to” read something, regardless of any agency they have in the decision, they often may not know how to choose wisely. These tips can help them (and you) make an informed and intelligent decision.

SHORTER IS NOT ALWAYS EASIER
Sometimes, students will immediately check for the book that has the least amount of pages. This is not a good practice, as it is not an indication of difficulty and, more importantly, may not end up being a book that is of interest to your child. 

A PICTURE IS NOT ALWAYS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Likewise, a book’s cover and any pictures that may be inside are not indicative of what lies on the pages in between. Don’t let one visual be the deciding factor in your choice.

NOT EVERYONE’S OPINION COUNTS
Just because your best friend liked the book, that doesn’t mean that you will like it. When getting opinions, consider following the advice of friends who have like-minded or similar interests as you. It would be even better if you were able to have a discussion about the book you both read once you have finished. 

So, how then, should you select a summer reading book?

  • Read a summary of all of the books on the list. Commonsensemedia.org is a great resource for “getting the skinny” on books. If you haven’t checked out that site, you definitely owe it to yourself to do so.  
  • List choices in order of preference.
  • Read a brief excerpt from each book. Luckily, this is easy to do without purchasing all of them. Often, you can google “excerpt from _______” and will be directed to various sources.  
  • Use the “five finger rule” while reading the excerpt. This is especially important for reluctant or early readers. Hold up a finger for each word you do not understand. If you reach five words on one page, perhaps you should consider a different book.  
  • Throughout the steps listed above, eliminate choices or move them up or down on your preference list accordingly.  

Now...read!

Please look for a follow-up blog on how to read and remember for the start of school in September.

Vita Biddle, Independence's LeApps™ Specialist, has taught at our school since 1992. She is a team member of the Center for Wellness, Innovation and Learning (CWIL™).

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