By Ms. Nancy McKenna
When I was a kid, we always came home from the library during the summer with towers, and I do mean towers, of books. My mom would always circle the due date in bright red on the calendar so we wouldn’t wrack up college tuition levels of fines. Of course we always finished our towers long before the due dates and were back off the library to find new adventures. We would spend hours browsing through the shelves to find new and exciting books to read. At that time I did the very thing the age-old saying says not to do...I judged books by their covers. I was drawn to pretty titles, attractive spines, and colorful covers. Surprisingly, it generally worked well for me and I came home with some awesome books. These trips to the library, especially during the summer, fueled my love of reading and books. Even when I was in college and felt stressed, my escape was going to the library and reading books. It has always been my way to destress, escape for a bit, and resettle my mind. If I go too long without reading a book, I start to itch to read one. We are talking like ice cream on a hot day type of craving. As I have gotten older, I have worked reading into my self-care, and it has become a very important part of my life just like it was in the early days.
During summer break, it is so important to keep our brains sharp and focused! A great way to do this is by reading. Reading helps teach us, lets us use our imaginations, and expands our vocabulary, and gives us new insights and perspectives. As you explore books this summer, try to stretch yourself to read outside your normally preferred genres and explore something new because you never know when you will find a new favorite book. If you don’t like reading, you might not have found the types of books that excite you yet, so keep searching!!!
The Summer Challenge!!
Your challenge this summer is to read a book a week. Yup, a book a week! Here are the best ways to get started, especially if you are not a big reader yet.
- Find a cute bookmark. I know, I say bookmarks are for quitters, but sometimes a bookmark is necessary. Just ask my mom how many times she had to come into my room at 4am during the summer and tell me to go to bed….seriously. One of my favorites is a cute little penguin who peeks over the pages.
- Go on a search for book #1! For your first book, pick something that sounds super interesting, has been on your list for a while, or is from an author you have read before. If you need inspiration, check out the list below or send me an email. I have lists and lists and lists and lists….you get the idea...
- Set the date you will start reading. I think June 7th sounds like an awesome day!!!
After you read each book, record it somewhere. Either write in on a piece of paper, put it on a google doc, a Word doc, etch it in stone, whatever you want. Next to it, use some kind of system to indicate if you liked the book. I personally use stars, but use whatever makes you happy. I frequently will go back to my list when searching for something new to read because I will look to see what else an author has written if I particularly loved a book. You can also use programs like Goodreads to track your books, ratings, books you want to read, and get recommendations. The secondary part of the challenge is to pick a new type of book each time. What I mean by this is that if you normally read mystery books, pick a contemporary fiction book instead. Try to expand your horizons a bit, and you might find some additional genres that you really love.
I have included some summer reading lists below, but many libraries and bookstores also have summer reading contests. For example Barnes and Noble is doing one this summer where if you read 8 books you get to select a free one off of their list! Check your local bookstores and libraries for fun ways to motivate you to read.
My final tip: I highly recommend ebooks from libraries. As a reader, I accumulate way too many books if I use physical copies. Many libraries have huge ebook libraries, and it is so easy to find good books without leaving your favorite reading chair. For younger readers, there are some programs like Epic that have great digital books as well. I personally use the Libby app, and it is incredibly easy to use. You will need a library card, but most libraries allow you to apply online for an ebook card. Plus, there is no need to worry about due dates as you book automatically returns when it is due.
Get out there and read, and come back in August prepared to tell me all about the awesome books you read over summer! Yes, I have a large list of recommendations from students, and I have found some great ones in that list! ;)
HS Summer Reading List Ideas
MS Summer Reading List Ideas
Elementary Summer Reading List Ideas