I'm likely not the only one who towards the end of the year finds themselves scrambling to fix what seems to be the problem of the century. Kids don't read over the summer. The middle of May arrives and I start asking myself this question. How am I going to convince all 25 of my first graders to read without me around? Even more so, I start preaching to the parents to persuade them to make reading a priority in their homes for the next three months.
In my heart, I know the answer to the summer reading problem lies in Kathy Collins' thought above. If my students actually have their own passionate reading lives, then a summer without books is not an option. Of course, they need access to books, and at their young age, parental support really is part of the puzzle. But these little people shouldn't read this summer because their teacher told them to or their parents make them or even because the local library has a great summer reading program. They should be reading because they have a need to read. Solving the summer slide won't happen because in May we promote summer reading. The problem will be solved or at least improved because of what we say and do starting on the first day of school. Creating readers who read over the summer and ultimately for the rest of their lives takes a long nine months to foster. I've got my work cut out for me on August 21st and every day thereafter.
P.S. Having said all that, I thoroughly appreciate what Miss Trayers at Not Just Child's Play recently posted about summer reading. She shared some creative ways she'll be encouraging her kids to read this summer. I'm totally doing #3 from her list. It's pretty much brilliant. You should take a look.