Easy to Implement Summer Reading Kickoff

summer reading program

The end of the school year is a magical time of the year! The students have worked hard all year and have successfully met academic goals and developed meaningful friendships. 

My students always impress me by the time the final weeks of school start to creep in. They work hard independently and in cooperative groups, and ooze with excitement for the adventures that lie ahead of them, both in the nearing summer break and not so far away next grade level.  

As exciting as this time of year is, I know my work is not done! I LOVE to use the close of the school year to get my students excited about summer reading. That is why right after spring break ends, I implement a kick-off to summer reading program in my classroom. It is an amazing way to begin discussing and kicking off summer reading filled with new books, authors, parent volunteers, and a class created a summer reading book list that students are excited to read!

Sounds fabulous right? It is! And it is so simple to organize! In a nutshell, you will be welcoming guest readers into your classroom to read aloud the first two chapters of their favorite, or any children's chapter book to get students excited to finish reading the book over the summer.

Here is your go-to guide to kicking off summer reading in your classroom to get your students super excited to read this summer! 

Look at your calendar and plan!

I always start this summer reading kick-off program the first week after spring break. Our spring break is usually later in the year during April, which leaves us about eight weeks left of school.  By this time, the kids are excited and already talking about summer, making it the perfect time to hone that energy into getting them excited about reading.  You can really start at any time. You may choose to set this program up every day during the last two or three weeks of school. Whatever works with your schedule is the way to go! I like to stretch it out, so depending on the number of volunteers that I have participating, I set aside two 15 minute blocks of time each week. As the year comes closer to an end, I usually add another 15-minute time block. I love using the end of the day to schedule the guest reading visits. It is the perfect time to allow a few extra minutes of reading depending on the length of the chapters and the engagement of students and to have the kids leave for the day excited about a new book!

Reach out to parents!

My school hosts spring parent-teacher conferences, so I use that time to enlist parents to jump on board and participate in our classroom's summer reading kick-off. I have signup sheets ready to go and direction sheets copied for parents to take with them so that they know what they need to do. I give parents a few days to decide on a book that they will be reading and then ask that let me know the book's title and author so that I can avoid duplicates being read.  If parents send me duplicate titles, I simply ask them to pick again or even offer a suggestion for them. I keep a running list of titles read so that we can create a class summer reading list that will be sent home with the students attached to their final report card. You do not need to organize this during conferences. You can simply send home a parent letter explaining how you want to kick off summer reading and have them sign up just as if they were signing up for conferences. 

If you need a formal letter to help organize this, click HERE.

summer reading upper elementary

Get organized!

An accordion folder is the perfect organizational system to implement this program. Make all of the copies you need ahead of time. Create a chart of the parents and books that are being read so that as volunteers come to read, you can just add the title, author, and reader's name to the list. This makes it easy to just snap a picture at the end and add it to your classroom website for the kids' reference. It also makes it easy for you to type up the list, too. Don't forget to remind the students about appropriate behavior when guest readers arrive. Create a list with your students about appropriate behavior when a guest reader is in the room. This is the time of year students always need extra reminders, so being proactive before parents come into the classroom is key! That way, students can truly reap the benefits of listening to all of the books being shared. 

Grab all of the organizational materials you need HERE.

Helpful hints…

After many years of implementing this Summer Reading Kick Off program, I found similar issues arise year after year. Here are some tips to help you plan and implement your own Summer Reading Kick-Off program in your classroom:
  • Don't limit yourself to parent volunteers! Be creative and think of others you can invite into the classroom and read, especially if you have low parental involvement. Some people you might ask to read include: grandparents, older siblings, your own former students, your family members, administration and special area teachers in your building, and of course members of your town's community to make it a whole community program!
  • Have a list of several book titles and authors prepared ahead of time for parents who ask for recommendations. Also encourage volunteers to read from their favorite chapter books as children.
  • Have a basket of chapter book read alouds for when volunteers come without a book or forgot their book at home. It happens!
  • If you have a classroom website, post the titles and authors as they are read for both student and parent reference. This helps avoid repeat books being read.
  • When you create your classroom list of summer reading titles that were shared, include who read aloud that book. Some students cannot remember the name or author of the book that was shared, but they can connect the reader with the book.

summer reading upper elementary

That's all there is to it! Don't forget that even though all of your classroom visitors are reading new books to your students, your students will never tire from wanting to hear you read aloud, too! 

Find out my favorite picture books to share with my students at the end of the school year HERE.

Enjoy the final weeks with your students and encourage your kiddos to read, read, read this summer!

summer reading for upper elementary

How do you encourage summer reading with your students before they head out for the summer? Share below!

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Want to engage students through the very last days of school? Click HERE to see end of year projects to engage your students.

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