Summer Reading

Reading a book at the beachWith many schools out (or almost out) the task of encouraging summer reading looms on the horizon.  I always wonder what the best way is to encourage my students to read over the summer. One book that was recommended to me was, “Rights of the Reader,” by Daniel Pennac.  I highly recommend giving this book a read. The book walks through what happens to students with their reading as they move through childhood and school. It discusses how the wonder of a book becomes the drudgery of an assignment.  Pennac, then proposes that readers have rights.  (link to poster) He list 10 rights all readers have which are:

  1. The right not to read.  (No not for the entire summer, but forced reading will only be resented.)
  2. The right to skip.  (Kids don’t always have to read a whole book.  Particularly when reading nonfiction, they can read sections of it and still learn a whole lot.)
  3. The right not to finish a book.  (This is a bit one!  If kids don’t like what they are reading, they have every right to not finish it.  This is opportunity to work with students on how to pick out books they may like.)
  4. The right to reread a book.  (Need I say more??  Just as watching a movie a second time helps you catch new things, so does a second reading.)
  5. The right to read ANYTHING.  (Students can read magazines, comics, ebooks, etc…  it doesn’t have to be conventional reading. If they are being exposed to print, they are reading.)
  6. The right to mistake a book for real life.  (Have you ever seen a kid disappointed when they realized a story wasn’t real??  If a book seems real, they will tap into more emotions and be involved at a deeper level.)
  7. The right to read anywhere.  (They don’t have to be in a chair…  let them read in a hammock, laying in the grass, sitting in the sand…  you get the picture.)
  8. The right to dip in.  (I do this with my students.  Read just a small part of the book and they get a taste for if they would like it or not.)


    The right to read aloud.  (Maybe hearing it is better for them.  Maybe they have more fun if they create “voices” for the various characters.  Let them read in a way that makes sense to them.

  10. The right to be quite.  (I love this one.  Maybe students need time to just sit and enjoy what they have read.  Take in that final scene, close the book, and know they loved what they read.)

I love all of these for so many reasons.  I think it represents real world reading. It represents what reading should be.  We know student choice is paramount when helping students get to a place where they consider themselves readers.  Help them to make good choices about summer reading.  Don’t give them assignments, but choices.  Do a barage of book talks, have them do some book recommendations.  Show them apps and ways to e-read.  There is such a variety of ways for students to read.  If we educators can learn to respect the rights of the reader more, we may start to see a shift in how our students view reading.

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