Summer 2011 Reading Challenge

Over the years, in schools I’ve taught in we’ve sent home summer reading packets.  Many schools think kids will continue reading over the summer if they are given a packet of activities to complete when they read.  This (typically optional) packet of activities is turned in when school begins and children usually receive some kind of reward in return.  Unfortunately, extrinsic rewards do not usually result in children reading more (or enjoying it!).  We are better off if we motivate our children to read with intrinsic rewards – the idea that they want to read because they want to read and it makes them feel good!  Yet, time and time again, research has shown that children lose what they learn over the school year if they don’t continue reading and writing over the summer.  I get why schools insist on sending home packets – it’s to keep kids learning, but it’s not very motivating.

This summer, instead of encouraging my son to complete tasks he’s not really interested in, I decided to appeal to my son’s very healthy sense of competition (a typical trait of boys) by challenging him to read independently over the summer.  I mentioned this idea to him and he loved it!  He won’t be in competition with anyone but himself.  This has led me to create my first community challenge.

So welcome to Literacy Toolbox’s Summer 2011 Reading Challenge!  I hope you will join us!

Goal: Challenge your child to read independently this summer.  Encourage your child to graph his success!  If you would like to download a Total Number of Books Read in Summer 2011 graph to use, you may do so here.  Or involve your child in making one of his own.  Especially if your child plans to read more than 20 books a month!

I, personally, joined my own challenge this year – The Centurions of 2011 that high school teacher Paul Hankins started.  My challenge is to read 111 books in 2011.  I keep track of the books I read each month and share the titles with the group at the end of the month.  I don’t graph my results, but may do so over the summer to share in the experience with my son.

Challenge Logistics:

1. Sign up below by May 31, 2011.  The challenge will run from June 1 through August 31, 2011 and is open to independent child readers.

Head over to the NEW Literacy Toolbox to sign up

2.  Plan to begin on the first day of your summer vacation, but for the purpose of this challenge, we will include any reading that your child does between June 1 and August 31.  Encourage your child to read independently every day.

3. Plan to check back here on the last day of each month (June 30, July 31, and August 31) and share the number of books your child read that month and a couple of favorite titles.  You may do so by leaving a comment on the page or by writing your own post on your blog (if you write one) and linking to it on the last day of the month here.

4. Prior to starting, ask your child to make a goal for the month.  How many books does he think he can read in one month?  Perhaps differentiate between the number of picture books and the number of chapter books.  Do this at the beginning of each month.  At the end of each month, discuss whether your child met his goal.  If he did not, ask him if he should do something differently to meet the goal he sets for the next month.  If he exceeded his goal, ask him why he thinks he may have done so.

5.Encourage your child to keep track of the number of books he reads each day.  Consider making a special journal to keep the title of books read.  This will help him keep track of the total number of books he reads, but also serves as a reminder of titles that he can look back on when looking for a new book to read.  Help him graph the total number of books he reads each month.

6. Consider joining your child in the challenge.  In other words, challenge yourself to read independently along with him.  Set goals, keep track of the number of books you read, and graph your results.  This is a great way to model for your child what “real readers” do.  Real readers might not graph their results, but they certainly set goals and re-evaluate them.

7. Most of all…have fun!

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19 Responses to “Summer 2011 Reading Challenge”

  1. Patrick Donohue Says:

    My kid is excited to take on this challenge.

    June goal: 50 books total (40 picture books and 8 chapter books).

  2. Nancy Jo Lambert Says:

    Hi Dawn,

    I had mentioned to you on Twitter that I wanted to alter this program for my PreK school. I have some ideas and materials in the works, but I wanted to check with you because I would like to link to the page so parents with older kids too could participate in this challenge.

    I love that this is all about intrinsic motivation to read and asks parents to model what “real readers” do as well.

    Thank you so much for this post and your work with literacy. If you give me permission to link here, I will let you know when I get the ECS Library summer reading program page up.

    Nancy Jo Lambert

    • Links to Literacy Says:

      OF COURSE you can link here and I would LOVE to see what you come up with! I have created summer reading programs for preschoolers in the past, but not quite like this. Thank you for taking my idea and adapting it to something that works for your students.

  3. Jackie Lee Says:

    My daughter just turned 5, and we’re aiming for 100 books this summer. 🙂 We started on May 10 (her birthday) she finished school on the 18, and we’re already at 25 books! 🙂 We’re keeping track at

  4. Jen V. Says:

    Great idea! I decided to make a chart to hand out with the blank list I give student to write down the books they read over the summer! I love the idea of graphing the books they read for two reasons. First, it’s fun to add the books and see how high the bar graph will go! Secondly, it’s working on math skills at the same time! The chart I made has a column where they can color in the number of books they set as a goal to read and then a column where they can color in the books they actually do read. I think the visual will help them see their progress towards their goal. Now I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope they do it!!! 🙂

    • Links to Literacy Says:

      Jen, I love the idea of showing both goal books and read books! I may have to adapt my graph to do the same, especially since my son has some lofty goals! Lol. I’m so glad you were able to adapt this challenge for your students! I hope they read, read, read over the summer!!

  5. Monster Comics by Mike Herrod « Literacy Toolbox Says:

    […] Literacy Toolbox Providing Tips and Tools to help Parents and Educators to Enhance the Literacy Lives of Children « Summer 2011 Reading Challenge […]

  6. Anthony Purcell Says:

    I don’t have any children, but I’m curious if I could join in the fun as well. I have a list of books that I want to read this summer, and I think by being in a competition will help me to stay focused and read.

  7. Michelle Says:

    I am confused. I don’t have a website or a URL and when I clicked on the link to join the challenge it is not clear what to do? Help please. I need some technical assistance in terms of how this works. I wanted to share it with the parents at the school where I work but I need “get it” first. Thanks!

    • Links to Literacy Says:

      Michelle, I apologize that it’s not clear. Unfortunately, since I blog via wordpress I’m unable to fully utilize the linky tools as I had hoped. if you can put your name and your child’s name ( or alias) in the first box and if you have a blog address in the second box, that would be great. If parents don’t have a blog, they can simply put their name and child’s name. Does this help?

      • Annette Says:

        Hello. Somehow I entered both of my children twice. Can you help me delete the duplicate entries? I need only one for Twin A and one for Twin B. Thanks!

        I wasn’t able to enter a name without also providing a URL. Fortunately, I have a website as well as a Facebook page that I was able to use.

        Is there an easier tool that we can use to participate in this challenge? I won’t be able to track my twins’ reading on the urls I provided. For now, the challenge is in getting started. Help, please!

      • Links to Literacy Says:

        Hi Annette,

        I will delete the duplicate entries, no problem. I’m in the process of making the sign up much easier and will let you know when it’s up and running. I apologize to you (and everyone!) for the complexity of this! I’m new to linky tools and am still learning the process of them. I will let you all know via a comment when things are up and running more smoothly!

  8. Michelle Says:

    Ok, sooo… when I click the “here” link it bring to the Linky Tools list. Then I should click where it says “you are next” click here? I put my name in the first box (the one that says link or blog title) and then there is another box below that wants a link –it starts http://. Do I need to create a blog link first? Do we check your blog at the end of each month to see who read what? You are going to track this for everyone who participates? I appreciate your time…as I said I want to share with parents at my school but I can’t unless I understand how to join myself. THANKS!

  9. Beth Tepper Says:

    This is an excellent tool and challenge. I will share this with everyone that I know. Summer is an excellent time to build and maintain literacy, as it doesn’t cost anything to go on an adventure in a book. I will do this with both of my children Nathan (10) and Aiden (4) and I’m sure we will become fixtures at our local public library.

  10. Rasco From RIF » Children’s Literacy and Reading News Roundup – May in Review Says:

    […] out The Literacy Toolbox Summer 2011 Reading Challenge ; this is a way to promote independent summer reading for children; sign up by the close of May […]

  11. Links to Literacy Says:

    HI! I have transferred Literacy Toolbox to my own hosted website: — I have written an update post over there with a much easier linky to use! Please check it out if you would like to join the challenge. I am in the process of trying to transfer those that already registered over as well! Thank you for your patience!!

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