Working to Get More Books in Their Little Hands

Happy (almost) summer everyone!  Our year is coming to a close this week.  As I analyzed our assessments, reflected on this year, started looking ahead to next year, I was pleased with the progress my students made this year.  They worked hard.  I worked hard.  My team worked hard.  And we all know that some of that hard work "sails" away during the fun of summer. Each year I remind them to read, send home information about the library programs, inform families of other local reading programs, give them all reading logs, and try to provide incentives if they bring the sheets back.  But I felt like I needed to do more this year.

Let me explain...just a little.

Last month I wrote a post all about books that you could access for free online.  I loved this post because it is a great tool for me to use in my classroom and with my own little ones at home.  But most of my students are not read to at home (especially not in the digital form).  Many do not have books.  And it is sad.  Really sad.  But something that I cannot control.  So I have to, first, motivate them to want to read to themselves, a sibling, or a stuffed animal.  And, second, make sure they have books in their hands.

Here are some things I do to accomplish these goals.

Reading A-Z
I have some students that have made a tremendous amount of growth but need to continue that journey throughout summer.  So I made them HUGE stacks of books to take home.  They are leveled by their need and month of summer.  Each of their parents have been called to explain the importance of their child reading the leveled books over the summer.  I put each set in a cute bag for them to carry around.  My students have been asking for their sets of books each day.  Nope!  They have to wait until the last week of school :)

Books for All
We called a local organization called, Crayons to Computers, and asked if they would be able to donate books to our school.  They agreed (THANK YOU!!)  On the last day of school, each student will get to "fish" for a good book!

Reading Packs
Most of my students come to school not knowing their nursery rhymes.  And they love reading them with us, especially the "silly" versions by Bruce Lansky.  Each of our first graders will get all of the rhymes that we have read in a bright, yellow folder.  They are super excited to have them all in one place to read!  I have made one book of nursery rhymes.  It is in the pack below.  This pack will be FREE today, in case you want it for your students.

Winning Books
This week when the students in my building find a hot air balloon they can win a book!  We picked out the best looking books we had and displayed them in one of our glass cases.  When they find a balloon, they get to go to the glass case and pick out a brand new book to take home.  Super motivating!

Take Your Pick
 This is a bulletin board (original idea from Lesson Plan SOS) for each grade level in my building.  Students earn tickets each week.  They vote on the book they would like to win.  Then I choose 15 winners a week.  That is about 540 books I give away in one school year.

Motivation to read during the summer can be a bit trickier.  One thing that my building decided to do this year was throw a celebration during the last week of school.  Since we missed our typical Dr. Seuss celebration (due to testing), we decided to call it "Sail into a Seusstastic Summer."  The entire hallway is decorated with book covers, hot air balloons, and Dr. Seuss characters.  Each day students will do activities to motivate them to want to read this summer:

*Discussing WHY they need to read this summer
*Making lists (on a hat) of the different places they can sit and read this summer
*Encouraging them to read together this summer and share books (like a little book club)
*Writing summer "bucket lists" together that include reading

For more ideas about the reading over the summer:

Emily wrote about that "summer slide" a few weeks ago with ideas on how to slow it down.
Lori from Conversations in Literacy wrote a great post about mailing books to her students (oh! how I wish I could do this).
I love this post about a summer book swap.  This would be a great idea to host at the school one day over the summer.
This post at From the Mrs. includes a summer bingo game to motivate kids to read in different places.

What do you do to keep your kids reading over the summer?


  1. Thank you for sharing the Nursery Rhymes. We are already out for the summer but I can use it next year. I also sent home sets of A-Z books, the note about summer slide, and the address for the online library. I also made fluency booklets from grade level fluency passages that I bought on TPT or found online. I made a cute cover and laminated the cover and then bound the whole thing with our binding machine. For the kindergarten students I found the phonics readers and decodable readers for Reading Street which had been formatted to fit on one or two pages and made a binder for unit 6 (the review unit). I am a reading specialist K-6 and sent these items home with the students I worked with this year. (about 25)

    1. Wow!! That is so great!! Thanks for all those great ideas. We sent home big packs with our First graders (about 65) that included many of the same things you mentioned. EXCEPT...the Reading Street materials. We have this program too. I will need to rethink things for next year and add that component. Thanks so much for reading!

  2. I am sending home a BINGO game that I found on pinterest that comes with coupons for every "win". On the coupons I am writing things like "1 pack of pencils" and "1 notebook" because my kids always need school supplies and this way they can earn them which makes them more valuable.

    I bought some books at the dollar store and then we have a free "store" for teachers that teach in higher poverty schools where I was able to get some more books. Right now each of my students will be getting 2 books so I LOVE the ideas of copying some books and even mailing them! I have a few days left to add to my summer gifts so I will be busy at the copier! :)

    1. Thanks so much for sharing some more great ideas!! I know your students will love all the new books to read this summer! Enjoy your last few days :)