Summer reading: Leveled books for the summer
Do you have parents asking about leveled books for summer? I have had the ‘leveled books for the summer’ conversation often over the years. Here is how I’ve responded to this question.
I did send packages of familiar books home with my students during my years as a Reading Recovery teacher. These books were on loan, and it was important that the students in or having recently completed the program maintained their confidence, phrasing and fluency gained from daily lessons.
In early childhood, positive reading experiences ensure that children are exposed to language, enjoy hearing stories, understand that the pictures help tell the story and basic concepts about print. As children get older, they begin to chime-in when they know what comes next in a story they’ve heard before. They notice things by observing and interacting with reading, even if they are not actually doing the reading itself.
Tips for extra reading over the summer:
If a student really would benefit from reading leveled books over the summer, consider loaning familiar leveled books to for use over the summer. Here is a free handout that I include in my students’ reading folders about what familiar reading is and how to make it fun.
Most students do not require leveled readers for the two months they are out of school. Many community libraries offer programs over the summer. They’re a great change of pace from school and provide language experiences with a wide range of books and other resources. While we’re in this period of physical distancing, many libraries offer curbside pickup and online programs with incentives to keep kids reading all summer. One of my online kindergarten students proudly displayed his award for reading 100 books last summer in our first Show and Share.
About leveled books
Leveled books are best used for guided reading programs. While they are more available now, more than ever before, it is important to exercise caution. Please keep the following in mind regarding leveled books at home:
- The leveled books that are generally used in schools are not sold in bookstores, but through sales representatives for publishers and are costly. (Books in the bookstore that have levels on them are normally not leveled in the same systems used for schools).
- Students can progress through some levels fairly quickly, and leveled readers do not become the magical, lifetime favorites that are treasured and passed on from one generation to the next.
- Reading the school’s leveled books on loan can be a great review if done as familiar reading. Reading them at home (particularly if they are unfamiliar), a child struggling through it in the summer does not give him or her an advantage long term. If that title appears at school the following year, it will be a familiar book. This scenario repeated too often can result in missed opportunities for learning and practicing reading strategies on instructional level text.
- Having too many leveled books at home may crowd out the reading of stories for the sake of just enjoying stories! Very young kids need to be read to more than they need to read themselves. They need to remember why it’s worth learning to read, to hear the rhythms of language and to know the comfort and magic of story time.
If any leveled reading is done over the summer, it is important that it be done in the most positive, fun way possible. Another good idea is to recommend review of personal, paper copies of little readers that were sent home throughout the year.
Online resources for summer reading:
A number of TpT teacher authors offer leveled readers in their stores, some free and some to purchase and download. The benefits of this option are increasing with our tech options!
- there always enough copies for each student
- time saved – not hunting down missing readers
- easy home reading
- updated versions
I started making my own because I like to hoard my own set of laminated color copies in my classroom. I am planning to create future titles with tablet-ready, horizontal, full-size versions that can also be used with TpT Easel, and am having previous ones updated. I choose which black and white version best suits the students, based on their learning goals:
- b+w with regular print for students to simply color (fine motor)
- b+w with dotted font, option to color (letter formation)
- b+w with spaces to in text (fill in targeted sight word(s)
- some titles have combination of #2 and #3
There is also a terrific website used in many schools to supplement their guided reading programs: razkids.com. This site is self-described as an award-winning teaching website that provides comprehensive leveled reading resources for students. If your child has an account through the school already, speak to his or her teacher to get login information to use at home. That Fun Reading Teacher is in no way affiliated with razkids.com but I have found it helpful!
Happy Reading this summer!