As the school year draws to a close, keep kids in the mindset of reading with a summer reading challenge. Summer challenges are an outstanding way to motivate students to keep reading over the summer. They have tasks to complete and prizes to win, all the while reading and relaxing.
Creating The Challenge
Each year I create something fresh and new for students. I have a lot of repeat students participate year to year, and I want to challenge them in new ways as they grow. This year I felt like the theme should focus on mental health and wellness. Like the majority of us, I have seen a sharp increase in students’ mental health needs over the past few years. Focusing on how reading can calm and relax the mind seemed like a natural fit this year.
I used Canva as my creation tool. If you don’t have a free educators account yet, and you create a lot of promotional materials this is a must have. I found a fun summer themed poster that guided me in the choices I had on my challenge list. I carved out space for students to record their summer reading on the page, and clearly see the directions. Listed below are the challenges I chose for this summer:
- Write the title of 3 books you read this summer in the pictures above.
- How many books did you get to read this summer? Write the number here ____
- Which book was your favorite ? Why? ________________________________
- Read 1 book from the Lincoln 2023 Book Award list. Write the title below:
Promoting The Challenge
To promote my summer reading challenges each year I try and get the word out in multiple ways. I start with a book display at the front of the library. This is usually the first thing students see when they enter the school library so I want to take advantage of that advertising space. I display summer themed books and paper copies of the challenge for students to grab and go. I also have a moveable display in our soft seating area where I display the information and summer themed books as well.
I also promote the challenge in digital ways. I created a page on my school library website that is just dedicated to summer reading information. Also, I make the summer reading challenge the main focus of my May library newsletter to the community. To spread the word to teachers as well I sent out a faculty email to just the English department asking them to promote it to their classes.
Reading and relaxing with a book is a great way to calm the mind and re-center during the summer months. Creating a way to challenge students to keep up their reading helps in countless ways. Promoting the love of reading and combining that with relaxation and mindfulness ideas will have benefits all summer long. Challenge your learners this summer, and keep the reading and relaxation going.
Author: Elizabeth Pelayo
Elizabeth Pelayo is the library media specialist at St. Charles East High School in St. Charles Illinois. She currently writes book reviews for School Library Journal. She is a member of the AASL AAUP Book Selection Committee. Also, she is a member of the nominations committee for the ISLMA Abraham Lincoln Book Award.