Summer Reading—and Writing!

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Now that my grandnieces Audrey (11) and Lila (7) are out of school for the summer, they are engaged in all manner of activities: Camp (the sleepover kind!), hip hop and tap, volleyball, and, of course, reading. Their school has a voluntary summer reading program, and for the last few years, Audrey has been one of the top readers, gaining mysterious points for every book read. This year, Lila will be joining her, and she’s reading up a storm too. As near as I can tell, their public school offers suggestions, but pretty much lets them read whatever they want. They both love the Dork Diaries books, and Audrey is deeply into The Babysitter volumes while Lila any books about animals.

Such programs are going on all over the country in elementary schools. But there are also dozens (if not hundreds) of beyond-school programs to get kids reading. It seems like everyone—from public libraries, to Barnes & Noble and Half Price Books, to Chuck E. Cheese, Pizza Hut, and Pottery Barn—is offering some kind of activity (online or in-person) for kids who want to read—or who can be cajoled to read. My little girlies are at camp right now but have promised to send me their summer reading lists when they get home. In the meantime, I’m wondering how much writing they are going to be doing along with their reading—and I wonder too if writing is involved in the programs listed above. I hope a lot. I have found some programs that focus on writing as well as reading, such as Scholastic, on whose site teachers offer writing activities, including the use of Kidblog, daily writing prompts, and writing journals. The Summer Reading at New York Public Libraries offers “Reading and Writing Fun,” where kids are invited to become storytellers, reporters, and more; and Start with a Book balances the focus on reading with writing activities like Create a Poetree, Review It, Explain It, and Write to Your Favorite Author.

Perhaps schools across the country are inviting and encouraging young students to write as well as to read over the summer. If so, I’m very glad, since we all know that writing muscles atrophy just like any others if they’re not used. If Audrey and Lila don’t seem to be writing a lot, I plan to cook up some fun writing activities and games for them. So if you have any to recommend, or any information about outstanding summer reading AND writing programs, please let me know.

About the Author
Andrea A. Lunsford is the former director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University and teaches at the Bread Loaf School of English. A past chair of CCCC, she has won the major publication awards in both the CCCC and MLA. For Bedford/St. Martin's, she is the author of The St. Martin's Handbook, The Everyday Writer and EasyWriter; The Presence of Others and Everything's an Argument with John Ruszkiewicz; and Everything's an Argument with Readings with John Ruszkiewicz and Keith Walters. She has never met a student she didn’t like—and she is excited about the possibilities for writers in the “literacy revolution” brought about by today’s technology. In addition to Andrea’s regular blog posts inspired by her teaching, reading, and traveling, her “Multimodal Mondays” posts offer ideas for introducing low-stakes multimodal assignments to the composition classroom.