Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

Summer Reading Kick-Off Event May 4, 2009

I admit it. I am obsessed with getting kids to read, and not just read, but I want them hooked on reading like a junkie in an alley.  One of my school friends described me as a Book Geisha, but assured me that she meant that as a compliment.  Since it did make me laugh, I guess I’ll take it. 

Last year I became intrigued with the idea of planning for summer reading after reading an article by Franki Sibberson at Choice Literacy with my fourth graders. I have followed similar lines of thinking when it comes to planning for reading over the year or setting a reading goal for yourself at New Year’s. In many ways, a Book Challenge, is like a plan.

Since I don’t have a classroom this year, but I am still peddling books, I’ve decided on a Summer Reading Kick-Off Event for elementary and intermediate families (kindergarten through sixth grade), as well as inviting local preschool families.  

Here’s how I tried to recruit one friend to help with the event…

Hi R,

Thanks for the fast response. I think I’m looking for someone to bounce ideas off of/partner in crime (without the responsibility of planning the crime). I do have quite a few resources including book lists, tips, etc. but I almost have too much. I need to condense it to parent-friendly usable materials. The last week of May I am a Summer Reading Kick-Off here at GIS with an emphasis on planning for summer reading. I can’t have one at both schools because there isn’t enough of me to go around, but I want to the Family Reading Night/Summer Reading Kick-Off to be of interest to families from both schools. J. Patrick Lewis and Tim Bowers will do a brief intro of their new book First Dog and it will be for sale for autographing, along with an array of books that might make good “summer reading”. I’m even kicking around having choices of “sessions” (15-20 minutes) that are age-appropriate. I want to have book lists, but if 4 or 5 books are highlighted for each age group, I know kids are much more likely to read them versus selecting them off a list.  I’m not out to sell books to everyone, but want to provide a service.

I know how many parents really struggle to get their kids to read over the summer and isn’t not unusual at their age to be willing to try or do something because the “teacher said” versus giving mom or dad a hard time about the exact same thing. I want to give the parents the “teacher said” clout to help them keep their kids reading over the summer.  

I’m also kicking around having an event in August for those who participated in Summer Reading.

What do you think? Thanks for offering to help!

I’ve gone on to try to recruit: the elementary reading specialists to work on something for parents of pre-schoolers and incoming kindergartens; intermediate teachers to host parent-child book clubs; local librarians and I’m not done yet. 


Stay tuned as I firm up the details in the next week. It’s not too late to plan one for your school!



Mystery Reader November 11, 2008

Filed under: books,parent involvement,read alouds,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:28 pm
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Another great idea that I got from Beth Newingham is Mystery Reader. It is a great, non-threatening (for both parent, as well as the teacher) way to involve parents in your classroom. It would really work at any grade level and would work just as well if there was multiple grade levels in the building that do it. I used it with my fourth grade classroom, but think my first grade teaching friends would really like this idea as well. Parents sign-up for a slot (about 20 minutes) to come in and share a favorite book with the class. The week leading up to their visit, the teacher reads one clue that points to the reader’s identity.  I had it set up to e-mail a reminder to the parent a week and a half out, reminding them of their appointment and asking them to e-mail their clues. Clues usually started general (I’ve always had a pet), to more specific as the week wore on.

There are so many benefits to this project, I can’t even name them all. Kids loved guessing who was coming and it was always amazing to kids if there was a Mystery Reader who stumped them all. We had aunts, grandparents, the school principal, guidance counselor, special education teachers, etc. as well as parents over the year.  It really helped build the classroom community as students found out their were similarities (or differences) not only between them, but between their parents. Parents LOVED having a genuine, authentic experience in the classroom. Some would bring their favorite childhood book, their children’s favorite childhood book, a book that related to what we were studying, or one related to their profession. 

Things I had planned on doing a little differently this year, was incorporating Franki Sibberson’s suggestion of having parents bring their “stack” of current reads. Cookbooks, magazines, book club books, how-to manuals-all great ways to help students see that reading if for life and include so many different things!

Click the link to see Beth Newingham’s Invite and personalize it for your use. If you still aren’t sure it will be the best thing since sliced bread, try it once a month, once a quarter, have other staff members be the mystery readers during their planning period. Mystery Readers-it does a classroom good!

Mystery Reader Invite