The days are longer. The waves are crashing. The sunscreen is being liberally applied. It’s summer time again and one of the best times of years to be a teacher or a student. One of the things that summer affords educators (something that is often lacking in the school year) is time! Time to play, time to reflect and time to read! It’s challenging to be a good teacher of reading if you aren’t invested in your reading life as well. We understand that the school year puts up many barriers to the flourishing of a teachers reading life. That is why we love the summer time. At TLA, we are firm believers that reading loads and loads of high quality children’s literature is a great investment of your time and energy in becoming a more effective and compassionate reading (and writing) teacher for your students.
So our encouragement to you is this — find a new-to-you title, or ten or twenty and read this summer! Since sticky notes could easily fly away at the beach, we recommend putting one large sticky note in the front jacket cover of the book. As you are reading, if something grabs your attention and you think “that would be awesome for a mini-lesson on ________” jot it down in the front. However, if you become so engrossed in reading that you forget all about mini-lessons, that’s okay too! That experience of being lost in a book is something you will want to share with your students during those long winter days that are bound to come back.
Now the question begging to be answered is: Where to find some great summer reading? We are so glad you asked. Here are a few of our recommendations:
1. Go to your local library! Any good library will have a great summer reading program. You don’t have to sign up for the prizes like the kiddos do, but you might want to see what titles are being recommended and pick up a few of them for yourself. If your library doesn’t have a summer reading program, you can always ask the librarian for recommendations of just released titles that would be appropriate for the grade level you teach.
2. Check out summer yard sales! You’d be amazed at the books you can find when people are doing some deep cleaning of their garages and houses. This is a great way to find some new-to-you titles for your classroom library. Even if you aren’t seeing current titles at a yard sale, if the books are in decent shape and seem appropriate, we’d recommend picking them up. You can display them uniquely in your classroom and because our brains are hardwired for novelty, even “used yard sale” books can be a great new adventure for your students.
3. Subscribe to a podcast! We highly recommend “Book Club for Kids” by Kitty Fielding. This podcast includes real kids and their real thoughts about books. It’s edited and fun for listening with your own kids. The Children’s Book Podcast has interviews with authors, illustrators etc who talk about their books! The content is a bit longer listen but has some interesting twists and turns. “Read Aloud Revival” This podcast is intended for families and parents who are trying to instill a love of reading in their home. You should also know that much of the audience are homeschool families. However, we have found the book recommendations (you might just want to check out the show notes) to be especially helpful.
4. Check out this list of titles from your very own TLA consultants! A little while back we reviewed dozens and dozens of children’s titles with a social justice lens and wrote out a little blurb about each. These little vignettes might help you find a book that could be added to one of your Units of Study for next year.
5. Follow TLA on Facebook! We are constantly updating our facebook page to include resources, especially about recent professional and children’s books. Follow us and find something you love.
We hope these ideas help catalyze a great summer of reading for you. Let us know what titles you’ve got in your beach bag in the comments section below!