Tips for keeping students reading over the summer holidays

Reading as few as five or six books over the summer holidays helps ensure students keep the reading and other learning gains they’ve made during the school year. Here are a few ideas to get your school community fired up about reading over the summer.

An open book on a sunny sandy beachBeach photo by Ben White.

Children who don’t read over the long summer holiday face significant reading loss, which is long-term and cumulative. Read the research and share it with school leaders, colleagues, families, and whānau so you can work together to prevent summer reading loss.

Get books into the hands of students over summer

At the very least, ensure students have books to read over the summer by allowing them to take books home over the holidays. Plan to keep the school library open for a few hours over the summer for students and their families and whānau to exchange books. If you must do a stocktake at the end of the year, aim to keep the library open while you stocktake.

Promote summer reading to students

Teachers and librarians can encourage summer reading by the enthusiastic and regular promotion of books, reading, and good reading habits. Book talk, reading aloud, and book chat show that reading for pleasure is a valued and fun priority in the school! When all school staff actively share book suggestions and promote reading in every class — not just in English at secondary school — it reinforces the message that reading is important for learning and life.

Connect with the public library

A community-wide approach to summer reading increases the likelihood that children will have books to read and people to encourage and support them in reading. If you have a local public library, arrange for the children's librarian to visit your school to talk about their summer reading activities, and/or any online services such as ebooks and summer reading lists they may have. Encourage families without library cards to join the library — make it easy and provide the membership forms.

Share ideas for reading at home with families

Families including members of the wider whānau — grandparents, aunties and uncles, and other family members — can play an important role in keeping students reading over the summer. Encourage them to visit the public library if available. Communicate regularly using a variety of methods about the importance of reading for pleasure and of children and teens having access to a range of reading material alongside books such as comics and magazines.

Read children’s and young adult books

If you want to be an awesome reading role-model who can help students choose the right book at the right time, you need to read and know the books. When you read for pleasure,you also reap the benefits of reduced stress, and greater knowledge and understanding of the lives of your students and others.

Plan a summer reading initiative in your school

If your school hasn’t planned a school-wide summer reading initiative this year, start thinking about what you might do next year to keep students reading over the summer and other school holidays. Read stories from other schools about summer reading initiatives to get ideas, form a team, make a plan, measure the impact, and keep the focus on reading for pleasure to get the greatest benefit.

By Jo Buchan

Jo is the Senior Specialist (Developing Readers) for Services to Schools.

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