Summer Reading Activity

By Lorelei L. Hauptmann

Much concern in professional literature is given to the need to maintain the reading and comprehension skills of students over the summer months when school is out of session. Given this concern, I would concentrate efforts on creating a summer reading program for young adults that would not only keep them reading and coming into the library over the summer, it would help them maintain these reading skills under the pretense of "fun". It would also be a familiar theme based on an adventure book read in the middle school, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne and would be called "Around the World in Eighty Pages".

The program I envision would be one of independent reading which would combine reading materials of choice, responsibility for recordkeeping, and rewards. An additional set of rewards would be available for anyone willing to go a step further than basic participation, which will be explained farther along in this report.

The proposed program would allow the YA public librarian and the school librarian to work together. The overall responsibility for the program would fall to the public librarian as the program would run over the summer months. However, the introduction of the program could be initiated by the school librarian through English classes in the middle school and high school, and the elementary librarian for those leaving grade 5 . The program would be open to students entering grade 6 and above.

The activity would be a reading program that would span any 7 weeks of the summer. Sign-up could be available in the school or with the YA's first visit to the public library. The students could pick those weeks most convenient for them. The 7 weeks would correlate with the 7 continents of the world. A "passport" would be issued to each reader upon sign-up. Participants would need to read 80 pages of the material of their choice each of the 7 weeks. Upon completion of the reading, they would log on their "passport" the title of the material read, and number of pages read for that week (which must be 80 or more), and the continent they are landing on. Using small paper " flags", the reader can track their progress around the world, by placing a flag on each of the continents, until all 7 continents have been reached. Small incentives would be offered for each accomplishment. At the completion of the 7 weeks, assuming all reading requirements have been met, each YA would receive a reward a bit more substantial (for instance, a pair of movie passes, or a paperback gift certificate at a bookstore).

There would be one additional step available to any reader so inclined. In the choices of materials to read, I would be sure to have a shelf dedicated to new or current YA literature. Any reader could write a review of the book chosen (following a set of guidelines), to be bound into a book of peer reviews which would remain in the library for other YA's to use, or could be returned to one of the schools for use in the school library. Participating in this additional step would gain the reader an additional reward, perhaps a t-shirt with the summer program logo on it.

I would look for funding of rewards for this program from local merchants. Advertising for the program would be initiated through the school librarian and could additionally be noted in the local events section of the newspaper.

To evaluate the success of the program I would look at how many "world travelers" completed the trip, in relation to how many started out. By introducing the program in the schools, you may have many more sign-up than will actually follow through with weekly visits to the library. It is those with the motivation to follow through that will be the measure of success.

An additional suggestion would be an end of the summer movie night showing the movie version of Around the World in Eighty Days. Completed passports would be the "ticket" in.

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This page last updated May 11, 2001
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