Igniting Summer Reading Habits

By Victoria Monk
Elementary Education and English Major, College of Education and College of Humanities and Social Sciences

child reading

During the long summer months of vacation, sometimes students start to forget what they learned during the school year and get especially rusty on their reading. This may result in a bumpy academic start in the fall. “Summer setback” is a problem many teachers encounter (Allington et al., 2010).

One way to limit the effects of summer setback is to encourage students to make a habit of reading when not in school. Some students require some encouragement to get started, so here are some strategies teachers can use to motivate students to continue reading through the summer:

Light the Spark

It is a little daunting to enter summer with the nebulous idea that one ought to read something.

A way to address this difficulty is to have students set goals for summer reading. They could plan to read a certain number of books per week or pages per day. Make it realistic with days off and backup plans for vacation.

This is also an excellent opportunity to encourage students to challenge themselves. Some students have low expectations of their abilities. Here, teachers have the unique opportunity to take a crowbar to that low ceiling and crack it open to a still realistic but more challenging level.

I did this one year when I decided to pick one “hard book” to read. It looked majestic in its leather binding, and the aged pages smelled so beautiful. I fell in love with “Ivanhoe” and was determined to see it to the bitter end – through all 420 pages. I was 12 years-old. It was difficult, but after I met my goal, the event opened my horizons to a plethora of books I had never considered before.

Fan the Flame

I think there is a part of in each of us that feels validated when something is written down or marked off as accomplished.

Have students keep a record of what they have read in a reading log. The log may include the book title, name of the author and the number of pages, to help them keep track of their “stats.” It also provides them with something tangible to show for their hard work, and this encourages students to take pride in their accomplishments.

Feed the Fire

As any venture, summer reading requires support.

Involve the parents! Let them know about the phenomena of summer setback, and encourage them to motivate their children to read during the summer. Some simple ways they could do this is to:

  1. Visit the local library and sign the children up for the summer reading program.
  2. Read stories aloud to their children.
  3. Have their children read stories aloud to them!
  4. Ask questions about what their children are reading.
  5. Talk to their kids about what the parents are reading.

These simple steps are easy to implement, require minimal resources and can be easily personalized to meet the needs of a specific student – a good way to keep those summer months on track to a successful start of the new school year!

Grand Canyon University’s College of Education follows the philosophy of learning, leading and serving. For more information, visit our website or contact us using the Request More Information button at the top of the page.


  • Allington, R. L., McGill-Franzen, A., Camilli, G., Williams, L., Graff, J., Zeig, J., & … Nowak, R. (2010). Addressing Summer Reading Setback among Economically Disadvantaged Elementary Students. Reading Psychology31(5), 411-427.

More About Victoria:

Victoria Monk is a student at Grand Canyon University, studying for a double degree in elementary education and English. After graduating, she hopes to teach in a middle school classroom. She enjoys reading literature, writing fiction and being involved in performing arts. Victoria is number seven in a family of eleven children, and is the blessed aunt of two nephews and the most adorable niece.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.