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Age 3 through 8th grade

Summer Reading Tips - Learning and Remembering

  • Study Skills
  • Teaching and Learning
Ms. Vita Biddle

Now that we are halfway through summer, the heat is on to get those summer reading books finished!  How then, do you read in an effort to finish the task, but more importantly to learn from and remember the books you read?

This varies depending on the age of the student as well as their learning preferences.  But generally speaking, the idea is to make learning visible.  Grab a highlighter, some markers, and maybe even your computer, and let’s go!

HIGHLIGHTING - There are various schools of thought on this subject. What is “highlight-worthy?”  How much highlighting is too much?  Are colors important?  The answer is simpler, yet more complicated than you think.  Every learner is different when it comes to highlighting.  Some brains find it easiest to highlight very little, while others highlight almost everything.  The best practice is really to do what you feel most comfortable doing.  One thing that is constant is that the process of highlighting should not stop you long enough to make your brain have to re-focus on the content after you are through.  That being said, highlight small pieces of information - names, personality traits, examples of foreshadowing, important quotes… Then once you come to a stopping point, go back and write out WHY you highlighted that particular thing.  Avid highlighters - let’s call them “Superlighters” - may take this one step further.  Instead of highlighting, they may first underline these items and then go back and color-code their highlights accordingly - names, personality traits, foreshadowing, etc, giving each item a separate color.  I’ve never been a “Superlighter,”  but I have always admired how neat and tidy their books look!

SUMMARIZING - Let’s think out of the box here!  It’s always a good idea to have students summarize what they have read. Typically, teachers have students summarize at the end of each chapter. A few short bullet points written directly in the book usually fits the bill.  But why not give students the opportunity to summarize in a picture at the end of each chapter? They can encapsulate what happened in a drawing that depicts main events, setting, and maybe even a quotation or two. These can be kept in sequential order for review closer to the start of school. Use them as a reference to retell the story orally. The more details in the pictures, the more details to be recalled in the review process. 

RETELLING - Retelling is a great way to cement learning of content. Prompts that promote robust retelling are crucial, especially when some time has elapsed between the reading and the review.  Self-made pictures are a good idea, but what about the student who doesn’t like to draw or color?  These students might like to try their hand at digital storytelling.  A great resource for this is  It allows students to create a digital storyboard for novels that they read!  Try it out!  It’s pretty fun, and a little addicting! 

So don’t get hot and bothered because your summer reading is still not finished (or even started)!  Instead, cool down with these cool ideas to read and retain.

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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