Adventures in Literacy Land: Summer Reading by Richard Allington

Showing posts with label Summer Reading by Richard Allington. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Summer Reading by Richard Allington. Show all posts

Making Summer Reading Personal

Hello Royal Readers! This week we are discussing the book Summer Reading by Richard Allington and Anne Mc-Gill-Frazen. Yesterday, Andrea shared how one principal took her summer reading program on the road. You can read that post {here}. Today, we'll focus on chapter six.

Making Summer Reading Personal and Local

This chapter takes an in-depth look at one district's personal and local approach to summer reading.

Summer reading loss has the potential to become a huge problem for children and school districts. Consider that a child can lose up to three months reading achievement each summer, which can accumulate to a gap of nearly 2 years by the end of sixth grade.  Wow, as a reading teacher I find that terrifying!

A Summer Books Program

One district rallied together to find a solution to the summer reading loss problem.  Principals, reading specialists, special education teachers, and building staffs studied Allington's work and developed a plan.  Here's what they did:

  • Created a student interest survey for students to complete. The first year of the program, they began with first grade, adding a grade each year until the program serviced first through fourth graders.
  • Developed a list of books to purchase based on the student interest survey.  
  • Negotiated the best prices with shipping included.
  • Purchased a large quantity of books (roughly 20 per student).
  • Invited student to "shop" for their summer books prior to the end of the school year. 
  • Challenged students to read 1000 minutes over the summer and document their minutes.
  • Provided incentives (treats, surprises, postcards, phone calls, and a hotline to hear a special message) to maintain motivation throughout the summer.  
  • Held a community event, a mid-summer reading reunion, to exchange books for fresh reading material.
  • Collected the books and calculated the minutes upon the start of the new school year.
  • Assessed students reading levels.


I'm sure you are wondering how much this program cost. It was expensive, but the district had the mindset of "pay now or pay later".

So how did they pay for it?  They raised the money by writing grants, enlisting the help of their PTO, and forming community partnerships.

Local businesses sponsored the mid-summer reading reunions. For example "Burgers and Books" was sponsored by Bob's Big Boy, and Outback Steakhouse sponsored the "Go Outback and Read BBQ and Book Exchange". Local newspapers promoted and covered the events.


Nearly 80% of children who participated in the summer books program maintained or grew over the first summer.

The program has expanded over four years to serve grades 1-4. The current fourth graders, who received the books for three consecutive summers, have had the highest degree of success.

The success with special education population was especially impressive.

The program has become wildly popular. The whole community gets involved, parents are educated on the importance of summer reading, students look forward to receiving the large bag of books, and the mid-summer book exchange continues to grow each year.

Question for Discussion

What elements of this summer reading program could be used to improve the program at your school?  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.  

Stop back tomorrow as we conclude our Summer Reading book study with Chapter 7: Where Do We Go from Here?



Why I Will NOT Pick My Students' Books For Them Anymore

Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap will provide you with ideas you can use to prevent summer slide.

Yes, I am guilty, and I bet I'm not the only one. I confess that I am a teacher who has selected books for my students' independent reading. Not as a general practice, really, but in a pinch when a child needed a book and didn't have time to pick or when he/she picked one that was too easy or too difficult to read. In fact, I've probably done it multiple times. Ironically, this was a discussion I had with a few teacher friends and our librarian at the beginning of the summer *before* I read this book. We talked about whether students should be "locked into their level" or allowed to pick freely, even when a book is beyond them. So, where would you fall in this discussion? Do you allow students to take books that are too hard, or do you limit them to books in their range, or do you give them one of each? In chapter four of Summer Reading, we learn there are reasons why we need to allow students to make book choices for themselves, but guiding their decision making is perfectly fine, especially if the child isn't aware of book levels.

Think about this quote for a minute and reflect back to your experiences as a child. Hopefully you remember how exciting it was to go to the library to pick just what you wanted to read. Perhaps you have children of your own and can relate to this quote too.  Choosing what you want to read has power, and completing those books creates pride.

Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap will provide you with ideas you can use to prevent summer slide.

At the beginning of chapter four, Dr. Allington discusses how important it is that we as teachers learn about our students' interests and about books that match them in order to help guide students to make good choices. We can learn about our students' preferences through interest inventories, group discussions, and from watching what they choose during library visits. Talking with your students while they're reading the book also helps the teacher know whether the genre or topic is a good fit too.  

So what does the research show?  Dr. Allington shared a study of 300 Black students in a urban school with a high percentage of low income students. The students were allowed to "shop" for books at a book fair that they were allowed to take home for summer reading (and keep).  Each was allowed to pick fifteen books, and during the "shopping" experiene, the student conversations were recorded. The students were very excited, and interestingly, the most popular titles selected by the students were about pop artists, cartoon superheroes, about places they were familiar with, the Captain Underpants series, and believe it or not, nonfiction which is atypical from other studies. They chose books that "reflected media and mass marketing interests". 

Once the students had made their selections, they were interviewed about how choices were made. In the interviews, one young lady shared that she thought Hilary Duff was "cool and liked how she dressed."  She shared the reason she chose the book was that she wanted to learn more about her. Superheroes were also popular because a few had seen movies about Incredible Hulk and Spiderman, so they picked Captain Underpants and How to Draw Spiderman. Luckily, teachers will be glad to know that some students shared that they chose based on read alouds their teachers had read to them or books they'd talked about in class, books the teacher recommended, or because a friend or relative had read the title.

So how have you established a reading culture in your classroom?  Please share your teacher tested ideas for others to consider, and be sure to return tomorrow for chapter five.  Andrea will talk to you about "Taking to the Streets!"  Sounds like a chapter you won't want to miss!



Five Reasons Poor Children Suffer More from Summer Learning Loss

Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap will provide you with ideas you can use to prevent summer slide.

Did you notice the title of this post?  Well, it is probably no surprise to any of us that summer learning loss hurts poor children more than any others. In fact, we've had data for a very long time proving it, but why is it that we continue to have our poor children falling further and further behind when we know the reason why? We have remediation programs in place during the school year, and we offer many children summer school. We may even send home summer work for them. Even so, why can't we seem to get to the root cause of the issue and fix it? 

In chapter one of Summer Reading, Dr. Allington shares the data showing how and why the achievement gap between rich and poor widens every year children are in school.  So ponder this a second...

Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap will provide you with ideas you can use to prevent summer slide.

What reasons popped into your mind?  Perhaps you thought that the parents just don't take the time for reading?  Maybe you thought that the kids are too busy swimming and playing, or were you thinking that teachers just don't take the time to tell parents how important it is?  Well, one of the real issues is the fact that many children lack access to appropriate reading materials, and each year children go without, the further behind they get. Here's a brief recap of Allington's research.
1. Poor children get most of their reading material from school or classroom library collections (Lamme 1976) and schools serving large numbers of poor children have smaller, older, and less diverse school and classroom library collections (Allington, Guice, Michelson, Baker, and Li 1996, Duke, 2000; Neuman, 2009).  This means poor children have a much more restricted selection of books. It was also found that they have fewer visits to the library, and more restrictions on what can be taken home.
2. Beyond the school setting, wealthier children had a greater number of bookstores available to them (3:1), but even worse are the differences in books available for purchase 16,000 compared to 55 books. On every measure, researchers found a "gaping difference." 
3. Family income has been shown to be a quite powerful predictor of the number of age-appropriate children's books and magazines that are available in the home
4. Access is not the only cause of summer learning loss.  Children's efficacy beliefs are linked to academic performance including their experiences as more or less successful readers.  A history of less success with reading produces a lower sense of self-efficacy than a history of successful reading experiences. Poor readers are more likely to be assigned texts that are too hard, texts they read with little fluency, limited accuracy, and without comprehension. Therefore, poor readers are less motivated to read voluntarily.
5. Creating classroom environments where successful reading is the norm for all children means that a one-size-fits-all curriculum plan (with everyone reading the same book) cannot produce a consistent pattern of successful reading.  Children need books they can read accurately, fluently, and with understanding. (McGill-Franzen 1993) to feel successful, and successful school reading leads to greater motivation to read voluntarily. 
Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap will provide you with ideas you can use to prevent summer slide.

As we look for ways to get quality literature that matches student needs and interests into the children's hands and motivate the children to read them, we need to consider these key principles.  

Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap will provide you with ideas you can use to prevent summer slide.
  • With your reading plans during the school year, ensure that all students are reading extensively during the school day.  
  • A focus on the volume of reading is different from a focus on time allocated for reading instruction.  The majority of the reading block should be spent reading.
  • Your reading plan should enhance students' desire to read voluntarily at night, on weekends, and during the summer.
Summer Reading: Closing the Rich/Poor Reading Achievement Gap will provide you with ideas you can use to prevent summer slide.
  • Program plans should make sure classroom book collections match the needs and interests of all students.
  • Classroom libraries should include hundreds of titles at the appropriate level of difficulty.
  • Programs should emphasize that students have books available for take home on weekends and throughout the summer.
  • Finally, programs should help teachers develop skills in matching children and books. 
At the close of chapter one, Allington leaves the reader with an important note keeping these two principles in mind.  He says, "All children need consistent access to rich and explicit demonstrations of the thinking that proficient readers do before, during, and after reading, or expert instruction." It is during the independent practice that students use these skills and strategies and come to own them. Without regular successful reading practice, reading proficiency seems more difficult to achieve.

So, readers, we have plans to make, don't we?  Can we idly sit back and allow children who are at such a disadvantage continue to fall further and further behind, or are we going to make reading plans?  

Come back tomorrow to read about and share intervention plans that increase children's access to reading materials and that improve reading proficiency.