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Summer Reading Plan

What are you reading, Mrs. Doyle?

This question caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting it.  Seconds ticked by as I scrambled for a way to answer.

What do I say?

At the time I was in a virtual read aloud lunch chat with some students. We were talking about how the read aloud was going, and how much we loved the book. Then a student asked the question…the question I had been avoiding for weeks.

What are you reading, Mrs. Doyle?

Here’s the thing:

I haven’t been able to read since March 13th…when our school closed down and our world changed. I’ve always led my reading life out in the open, modeling for my students how, what and why I read. So in that moment, I didn’t know how to answer the question.

Nothing. I am not reading a book right now.

I looked through the Meet Grid View at the students in front of me. They waited for me to say more. At a loss for words and feeling the tears brewing, I shrugged my shoulders and put my hands up in the “I don’t know” position.

Because I didn’t know. I knew what the problem was but I didn’t know how to fix it. Reading is something that has always come naturally to me. It’s what I do, it’s who I am. And I couldn’t do it. I didn’t know how to convey all of this to the kids sitting in front of me.

I paused and let the silence be.

Then one student spoke up:

I’m having trouble reading on the Chromebook, I miss real books.

Then another piped in:

I can’t find a book I like.

So we chatted about why reading was hard now:

  • the way we’re reading is different
  • what we’re reading is different,
  • our eyes were tired after doing school all day remotely
  • our brains were having trouble focusing.

Okay. We’ve named the problem…now what can we do about it?

Then one student said:

I’m rereading a book.

Finally, like magic, another student added:

Should we make a list of things to try?

And so we did. I shared my screen and we worked together to come up with a list of things we could try to get ourselves back on track with reading. We already had our first idea:

Reread a book.

Then the rest just came:

Read a book of short stories or poetry.

Read books by an author you love.

Read a book by a new author.

Read a book from a series–one you love or a new one.

Try a genre you don’t usually read.

Try a format you don’t usually read: read novels in verse, read graphic novels or listen to audiobooks.

Read the same book as a friend.

And, my personal favorite:

Mrs. Doyle, you could try reading books for people your own age.

I’ve used this list of suggestions to create my own summer reading plan which I will be sharing with students this week. Will I actually read all, or any, of these books? I’m not really sure. But I have a plan. And that’s always a good first step.

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