Summer Reading 2013

My school year is slightly longer than many others so I’m very jealous of those who finished this past week! We have four weeks left to go and “Summer Vacation” lines up almost perfectly with the REAL start of Summer!

That makes our Summer Reading season a bit later to kick off than others. But, it doesn’t mean that Summer Reading lists can wait any longer to be created! We have regulations to follow and deadlines for posting our lists online well in advance of “Summer.”

Last year I started my summer reading lists from scratch. They are posted here. I was starting the lists basically from scratch and the task seemed comparable to the cliche about eating an elephant. I did it one book at a time.
This year it wasn’t quite so bad! The lists are posted here.

My tips for writing summer lists:

  • Print out your current lists (if you have them) and take a marker to them. Slash anything the students didn’t respond to, state award nominees that don’t need to linger, outdated books, books that might no longer be in public library collections. 
  • Start searching for “Best of” lists, state Children’s Book Award Nominee lists, and summer reading lists from other sources. Preferably, you want to look for lists that are well maintained with at least 50% of the titles being from the previous 3 years. 
  • Put lots of books on your own library checkout list. Try to check out and browse as many new books as you can.
  • Crowd source by asking other librarians, connecting on Twitter (try #titletalk), and checking with your teachers about the latest great books they’ve been reading. 
  • Public libraries and librarians are a great help! If you drop off your lists early (even a draft) a children’s librarian will often be happy to read it over and provide feedback. This year I missed the fact that two titles are no longer in the public library collection. The librarian who read my lists even suggested similar replacements. She also said she was going to request some of the titles on my list that had fewer copies in the system!
  • I’m discouraged from placing series on my official reading list, but I do think it’s a good idea to consider series when all of the titles are appropriate for the grade level.
  • Keep the formatting simple. Find a way to make the document easily printable for the classic refrigerator posting!
  • Don’t forget your digital sources. Find a way to incorporate free online storytelling resources such as We Give Books, Barnes & Noble Storytime Studio, and Storyline Online

What I’d love to Do, but Have Not:
I don’t add my own reading challenge to the summer list. Our rules are the same across the district. Students earn an extra credit grade for the books they read and the book requirement is set. I’d love to do a more creative challenge like some of the ones I have posted at Pinterest.


I would also love to have a better digital platform for my summer lists. Joyce Valenza posted an interesting Summer Reading post the other day about making her lists more accessible to students with digital devices. I love the idea of adding Book Trailers and digital content to the traditional list. How great would it be to include a quick YouTube video about the frog life cycle next to the summary for Froggy Learns to Swim? Or author interviews?

I do put content online for students. I include electronic files of the summer lists for printing. Links to the public library summer reading program are highlighted on my website. I include a page of all of the links I can think of for online books including the free ones listed above and our paid subscriptions. I include links to local reading promotions such as Barnes & Noble.

I’ve got Summer Reading Lists and Activities Posted at Pinterest if you haven’t had enough fun yet today. There’s a lot of inspiration out there! Summer Reading Lists do take a lot of work because they are so personal and the formatting can be time consuming if you have to worry about page space for the copier.

May 27, 2013
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