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struggling readers intervention

Librarians: How to get the digital generation to read over the summer


Skip the lists, say experts. 3 ways to get Gen Z reading over the summer.

With students released for the summer, was sending them off with a summer reading list really the best way to promote independent reading?

Since research indicates that attention spans are waning for learners of all ages, teachers must do more to keep students interested in reading over the summer and prevent the summer slide.

In “Summer Reading 501: Helping Generation App Read This Summer,” Michelle Luhtala, library department chair, New Canaan High School, CT; and Jane Lofton, teacher librarian, presented creative ideas to get students excited about summer reading. For example:

1. Read Alouds

Partnering with the public library on certain initiatives, like having weekly read alouds, is a great way to keep students involved in reading over the summer. During a read aloud, teachers can sign up to read a book of their choice at the public library. Families can even join too.

Lofton advocated for having this sort of program for not just younger kids, but also older kids. “Middle school kids love to be read to too, I think we stopped doing that way too soon,” she said.

In addition to meeting at the public library, school libraries may be able to stay open a few days a week in the summer. Lofton recommended keeping the library open during hours that the public library isn’t available, so students always have access to books.

(Next page: More tips for getting Gen Z to read over the summer)

2. Goals, Prizes and Tastings

Schools can set reading goals for the summer, like reading a certain number of pages per student, and winning a prize for the next year if the school hits that goal.

Before leaving for the summer, classes can do activities to give students exposure to potential summer reading books. During a “book tasting,” students rotate around a table and have discussions about different books they might want to explore. “It’s kind of like speed dating with a book,” said Luhtala. Students can also play a “find someone who” game in which they have conversations with each other about the types of books and topics they like to read about.

3. Get Teachers Involved!

Summer reading is not just about the students, but also about teachers. Getting teachers involved is a great way to spark discussion between students and faculty. Teachers can post signs in their classrooms about their own personal summer reading list, which students can ask them about before leaving for the summer, or when they return in the fall.

Teachers can also “sponsor” a book for summer reading, so students can go to that teacher to learn about the summer reading book they want to choose.

With so many opportunities to better engage students in summer reading, schools can do more to keep student interest and better prevent the summer slide.

About the Presenters

Michelle Luhtala is the Library Department Chair at New Canaan High School in Connecticut and was one of five school librarians named as a “Mover and Shaker” by Library Journal in 2015. She is the winner of the 2011 “I Love My Librarian” Award and the Library Association’s 2010 Outstanding Librarian Award. The New Canaan High School Library won AASL’s National School Library Program of the year in 2010. Follow her on Twitter @mluhtala.

Jane Lofton, Teacher Librarian now “in the wild,” retired in June 2017 from her position at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA, and was honored with the Senior Class’s annual Sandacre Teacher of the Year award that same month. After years of sharing her passion for reading, writing, research and information literacy skills, digital citizenship, and technology with students, she continues to share that passion with other teachers and librarians through social media, her blog, and presentations. She is a Google for Education Certified Innovator and Trainer.

She is a past president of California School Library Association and was installed as an honorary member in February 2017. She has served on the American Association of School Librarians Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Committee (2013-2016), and is now Social Media Superstars Recognitions Task Force Chair, 2017 Conference Social Media Chair, and a member of the Social Media Editorial Board.

Join the Community

Emerging Tech is a free professional learning community where school librarians can explore all the ways to integrate technology and 21st century learning into school library programs.

This broadcast was hosted by edWeb.net and sponsored by Mackin Educational Resources.

The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.

[Editor’s note: This piece is original content produced by edWeb.net. View more edWeb.net events here.]

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