Each year to promote students to read over summer break I create a Summer Reading Challenge board. The summer slide is real, and even with intermediate students they can lose a lot of what they gained as a reader over the course of the school year. This year’s school closures added an extra challenge to getting teens to read in the summer. This year I had to change the paper copy delivery system into something students could access remotely.
The goal of any reading challenge is ultimately to get students to engage with a new book or a few. With teen readers this challenge can be daunting. I, for one, have felt the sting of planning a program only to have zero participants. With the state of the world and our libraries closed for the school year, I had to adjust my normal summer reading promotion.
Creating the Challenge
To create this virtual reading challenge I needed to start by creating a digital format that would meet our needs. In the past years I have always had paper copies that students picked up on displays and at our circulation desk. Now that this is not a possibility, I began by taking fun summer reading choices and placing them in a grid. I tried to think of choices that would engage students and get them reading out of their normal comfort zones.
I used Google Docs to create the table and collect the pictures for each choice. I chose Google Docs because I could enable the document to automatically copy the file in the students’ drives when they clicked the link. When creating a Google Doc or Slide Presentation the simplest way to do this is to change the end of the link of your document from “edit” to “copy.”
Unable to advertise in my normal ways in the library has been a challenge. The first place I chose to put the summer reading challenge was the LRC website, hoping that students might check for updates while learning remotely. Next, I e-mailed my English department teachers. They are able to share things with students so much easier than I can right now by placing a link to the reading challenge on their Google Classrooms and Schoology pages.
The end-of-year traditions in our school have changed drastically. Keeping reading and literacy at the forefront for students has never changed though. Providing students with fun challenges to encourage reading over summer break still remains a need. I hope to see students engaging in reading and enjoying this fun reading challenge choice board over the summer this year.
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.