I don’t know about you, but every April, I feel a huge weight on my shoulders as the school librarian to figure out an effective way to motivate children to read every day throughout the summer months. Children, teachers, and parents work so hard during the school year to improve reading stamina, and it is troubling to see what the Summer Slide can do to this progress.
Well, last summer, Colchester Elementary School completely changed their reading program, and it was a huge success reaping high attendance rates. The program consisted of weekly storytimes led by teachers who volunteered to read at the public library. Pizza was served after the stories, and children left the library with their arms full of library books to read for the week.
Six Steps to Run a Popular Summer Reading Program
Step 1: Secure a room at the local library for a weekly storytime at 6:00: The evening hours made it easier for working families to attend the program.
Step 2: Ask teachers to volunteer to read: Teachers and administrators signed up to read with a partner at one of the events. We had enough readers for the whole summer! This was the most essential part of the program. The children loved seeing their teachers from the previous year, and they met their new teacher and principal, too.
Step 3: Ask PTO to donate pizza and water: A local pizza restaurant gave the PTO a great deal on sheet pizzas. I mistakenly ordered only 2 pizzas for the first event which was not enough for the crowd! 3 sheet pizzas were perfect for an audience of 50-60 children.
Step 4: Promote the program: The fun video below was produced to involve students in a social media campaign, and a promotional video was created to explain the entire program to adults.
Step 5: Use social media to share the event: Facebook and Twitter was used to advertise what teachers were reading at each event. Pictures and soundbites were also shared on #raponsummerslide.
Step 6: Thank teachers, administrators, PTO, public library, pizza shop, and families for supporting the program: It took so many people to make this program a success! I wrote cards to thank teachers, the administrators, the PTO, the public library, and the pizza restaurant. I also created an Animoto to share on social media.
What parents had to say about the Summer Reading Program:
“The evening library reading program provided me with an experience that allowed me to include all of my children and opened up the world of reading to them. It got us to the library on a regular basis, where the older kids enjoyed taking other books out to enjoy during the summer.”-Karl Schoen-Rene
“The Summer Reading Program allowed my kids to stay connected to school through the lazy summer months. It helped emphasize to my kids that it is still important to read when school is out, and they loved being able to visit with their favorite teachers over the summer!”-Sara Mertz
Author: Maureen Schlosser
Author: Lessons Inspired by Picture Books for Primary Grades published by ALA Editions