Summer Reading Challenge: 11 Challenges, 12 Weeks, Unlimited Adventure

SummerSummer reading has been a topic of discussion by educators for decades. “Summer slide,” where students lose the gains they made during the previous school year, is a topic of conversation this time of year. This learning loss has a cumulative effect and impacts students as they continue to move through school. There does not seem to be one solution for this problem, but educators can agree that we have to keep trying (McLaughlin, Smink, 2010).

In January, our library department decided to take our own reading challenge.  This a year-long challenge is where you read twelve books in twelve months from various categories. Click here to check out this challenge. We were inspired to try something like this with our school community and decided that summer was a prefect opportunity.

In the past, we have given reading recommendations by grade level for people to use as reading options during the summer. We created Pinterest Boards that included these recommendations. We felt we could still do more, so the summer reading challenge was born.

The Plan: We have created (borrowed might be a better word) eleven challenges for students to read during the twelve weeks of summer. Examples of the challenges include: a book you can read in a day and a book that became a movie. In an effort to try and get kids talking about books with others we included challenges like: a book that was a childhood favorite of a parent or grandparent and a book recommended by a librarian. We also wanted kids reading outside of their “go to” books, so we have challenges like: a book about a different culture or race then your own and a book in a genre you do not normally read.

After They Read: When someone reads a book that fits one of the challenges, they will post the title and author on a Padlet that has been created.  They can even include a picture holding the book if they choose.

We choose to use Padlet because of the ease of use and it can be accessed from many different devices. We like the fact that you do not need an account to post something to it and many of our students have already used it in their classes. Additionally, it allows us to monitor what is posted so everything stays on the up-and-up.

Who Will Be Involved: Everyone! Anyone who is part of our school community will be encouraged to participate. Current students from preschool to twelfth grade, their families, faculty, staff, alumni, board members, and anyone else with a school connection. We want this to be a focus for everyone not just one department or segment of our school community.

How We Will Share It: We will be sharing it everywhere! Information will be on all the school social media sites. For a period of time, it will pop-up as additional information when the school website is opened. We will be sending home a magnet with our elementary students that includes basic challenge information as well as the website and QR code to access the Padlet. The idea is this can be placed on a refrigerator where it will be seen often. We have created a business card that shares similar information that can be placed in a wallet, pocket, or purse. Finally, throughout the summer we will be sending out challenge updates every two to three weeks in an online newsletter using Smore.

Outcomes (Hopes): We hope that we have thousands of posts to shift through when it is all said and done. We hope that the faculty and staff members can be reading models for students and their families. That students and their families across all four campuses will connect through books and a love for reading. We hope that, by allowing it to be based on choice, it will keep kids reading what they like to read and not just what they have to read. Most of all we hope that it makes reading fun!

It could totally be a bust! Since we have not done this type of summer reading program before we know that none of these hopes could happen, but we are optimistic that we can encourage reading to become part of the lives of our students and colleagues this summer.

Are you up to the challenge?


McLaughlin, B., & Smink, J. (2010, Spring). Why summer learning deserves a front-row seat in the education reform arena. Retrieved April 24, 2016, from

Anne. (2015, December, 29). The 2016 reading challenge [Web log post]. Retrieved from


Author: Kelly Hincks

I am the librarian at Detroit Country Day Lower School in Bloomfield Hills, MI. I have worked as a school librarian for the past eleven years. I was a classroom teacher for four years prior to that. I have worked in charter, public, and private schools. My favorite thing about being a school librarian is the opportunities I have to work both with students and teachers. I love the co-teaching opportunities and connections I have been able to make! I have served on AASL committees as a member and chair. I currently serve as secretary of my state association, Michigan Association of School Librarians (MASL).

Categories: Blog Topics, Community/Teacher Collaboration, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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3 replies

  1. This is fabulous! Is there a way to see the challenge guidelines for this summer?

  2. I tried something similar to this, but did not get much response as I didn’t share it enough. For those of you who wish to try it, share and promote and get kids involved and excited before they leave for the summer. I’m doing it again this year with much more promotion. Hopefully Year 2 will have more participation!

  3. Hi Debra,

    Here are the challenges we are using this summer:
    – A book you can finish in one day.
    – A book whose cover intrigues you.
    – A book that has a Michigan (our state) connection.
    – A book with a genre/subject you don’t normally choose.
    – A picture book published in the past 10 years.
    – A book recommended by a librarian.
    – A book that become a movie.
    – A book that is about a culture or race different from yours.
    – A book that you’ve always wanted to read but haven’t found time for.
    – A book you will read with a friend or family member and discuss.
    – A book that was a childhood favorite of your parent or grandparent.

    Let me know if you wondering anything else!

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