We all know how it happens. The last final ends, the last yearbook is signed, the doors swing open, and students step out into glorious summer break. The absolute last thing that anyone wants to think about is homework. For perhaps the first and only time in the whole year, we (parents, students, teachers) can pretend that homework doesn’t exist. No more school! No more grades! No more homework for the foreseeable future.
Enter summer reading. That thing that teachers talk about those last few days of school, that parents find buried in their email inboxes, that students quite often ignore until the last before school starts.
This summer, break the cycle. Follow these 4 steps to turn the painful process of summer reading into the structured and manageable task that it is meant to be. With a little planning and creativity, summer reading can truly be...dare I say it...an enjoyable part of the break.
Step 1: Order the books ASAP
It’s pretty straightforward, but I am going to set the record straight once and for all: you can’t read a book that you don’t have. Obvious, right? Nothing leads to the downfall of summer reading like not having the books. Take the first step. Order the books. All of them. Do this right now.
Step 2: Make a plan
Think of this step like a meet-and-greet between your life and your summer reading books. Once you have your books, take some time to look them over. Read the cover. How many chapters are there? How many pages? Ask these key questions:
Which of these books am I most excited about?
Which book looks like it is going to be the hardest?
How long will it take me to read each of these books?
Now, take a look at your schedule. You know yourself. Do you want to read the hardest book first to get it over with? Or do you need a break? If so, start with the one you’re most excited to read. Figure out the order in which you want to tackle the books, then figure out when you plan to start. A few things to keep in mind when planning your reading schedule:
Unless you plan to read multiple hours a day, you should alot at least two weeks to reach each book (longer for the long ones).
You should NOT plan to read books when you are visiting your best friend, or at a soccer camp, or anywhere where you feel that reading might be challenging or downright impossible.
DO NOT - I repeat, DO NOT - spend the last week of your summer reading these books. Plan ahead so that you can spend your last week of summer sleeping, having fun, or doing whatever else you want to do with your last moments of freedom.
Need help making a plan? Get started with Clayborne’s Summer Reading Plan of Attack.
Step 3: Leave yourself a roadmap
A common concern about completing summer reading early in the summer is that students might forget what they read by the time fall comes around. Nothing is worse than reading the required book, only to show up to school and bomb the reading test! Don’t do this to yourself. Don’t leave yourself stranded. Instead, leave yourself a trail of notes and annotations. Annotation (underlining, circling, and taking notes while you read) not only helps you helps you comprehend what are are reading in the moment, but also lays a roadmap that you can return to when reviewing for a test or essay.
Step 4: Reward yourself
Don’t expect this to be easy. You may order the books, make a schedule, sit down, crack open the first one, and realize that, despite all of your planning, this is going to be really hard. Plan some rewards for yourself. Some ideas:
Pick out a movie you want to see, and save it until you’ve finished the first book.
Ask your parents if they will cook your favorite meal, or take you to your favorite restaurant when you finish a challenging read.
Really want to watch TV or go hang out with a friend? Make yourself read one chapter first.
Set up a competition with a friend! Whoever finishes the book first has to buy the other ice-cream.
Want help planning out and staying on track with your summer reading? Clayborne is here to help.