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Summer Reading

written by: Marlene Gundlach • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 6/26/2015

Summer learning loss is statistically proven, but is required summer reading enough to help stop this from happening?

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    Summer Reading Requirements

    My children have not yet had any required summer reading, but I know once they enter high school, the summer homework kicks in. But, does assigning required reading during the summer months really stop the slip of summer learning loss? Sometimes requiring reading backfires. I find with my children that if they can choose their own books, the are more likely to do the reading. The more limited their options, the more likely they are to fight the assignment.

    For example, the use the Accelerated Reading program at their school. They have goals for their book levels and their point total at the end of the semester. Since they are limited by their choices, they are not as interested in reading. Once summer arrived, I found them voluntarily spending time reading because they were free to choose any book they wanted. In an ideal situation, when teachers assign required summer reading, students should be given a choice. Even if it is from a list, they can at least feel they have some input in what they read. If you have one specific book in mind, allow students to choose their second book.

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    How Long Should Students Read?

    How Long Should Students Read? 

    For younger students, you may want to just give students a log and give them some guidelines for how long they read on a weekly basis. A few guidelines:

    • Grades 1-3: Twenty minutes a day, 4 days a week
    • Grades 4-8: Thirty minutes a day, 4-5 days a week

    For higher grades, the students will generally have a book or two that is required for summer reading, and it is up to the student to pace themselves.

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    Book Suggestions

    Grade 1

    • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
    • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
    • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka
    • Quick as a Cricket by Audrey Wood

    Grade 2

    • Jigsaw Jones Series by James Preller
    • Flat Stanley Series by Jeff Brown
    • The Great Kapok Tree: A Tale of the Amazon Rain Forest by Lynne Cherry
    • Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne
    • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

    Grade 3

    • The BJG by Ronald Dahl
    • Encyclopedia Brown Series by Donald J. Sobol
    • Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard
    • Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater
    • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

    Grade 4

    • The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
    • The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks
    • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
    • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien

    Grade 5

    • Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary
    • Frindle by Andrew Clements
    • Holes by Louis Sachar
    • In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord
    • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

    Grade 6

    • Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson
    • The Island by Gary Paulsen
    • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
    • Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
    • The River by Gary Paulsen

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    If your school does not subscribe to a testing program such as Accelerated Reader, there are online sources such as Book Adventure where students can take multiple choice quizzes. You can also encourage families to start summer book clubs for students where they can discuss and share the books they read during the summer months. Even if you only ask for a written summary, hopefully the any required summer reading you assign will help students from suffering the dreaded summer learning loss.