Reading and Writing This Summer

Here are three ideas to enrich this summer with reading and writing for every student.

First, start a book club. Columbia University Professor Lucy Calkins, founder of the Reading and Writing Project at Teachers College, Columbia University, tells a compelling story of the value of book clubs. She has long been an advocate of book clubs for elementary school children, and then gave her 90-year-old Mom the best gift ever: a book club, complete with interesting books, great food, and meaningful fellowship. Have your students and children of any age start a book club, and it will be a life-long gift.

Second, start a neighborhood newspaper. As children scatter to different parts of the world during the summer, they want to stay in touch with one another. A newspaper is so much more detailed, vibrant, and meaningful than a text or picture. Think of Harry Potter’s “Daily Prophet,” which included text, pictures, and videos — all of those media are available and free. Wix, SquareSpace, and other sites are free and easy to use, so students can publish their newspapers for global distribution.

Third, write a book. Students can collaborate to plan, write, illustrate, and publish their work. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, but it can be profoundly influential in the way that students think of themselves as authors.

Of course, it’s also great to play, swim, hike, and look at the stars — kids of every age need that too. But as Professor Calkins reminds us, the sing-song call of “Alle alle in come free!” from kick the can is also a clarion call for readers and writers. Let every child this summer hear that song, and feel free to come in and enjoy the wonderful gifts of reading and writing.

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