Monday, June 13, 2011

Planning for Summer Reading--remember professional reading too!

Last Friday, I got to do a guest post for Two Writing Teachers. On Fridays during the summer, Ruth and Stacey invite others who blog about about their lives as writers or educators to do guest posts. I was excited about doing it and decided to reflect on how changing some things in my writing life changed some things in my classroom. I invite you to check it out on their site, and while you're there, make sure to check out the other posts!

Thinking about my writing life while writing my guest post also got me thinking again about my summer reading life. I generally read a lot of fiction in the summer--actually, more than a lot. Most of my summer reading is just for my own fun and I love nothing more than to sink into a good story. I do plan what I'm going to read for fun--I make lists, create stacks of books, visit Barnes and Noble, and trade books with my friends. Planning this reading for summer comes easily, but I also plan deliberately to read things that will help me continue to grow professionally.

Some of the fiction I'm enjoying also serves a professional purpose. It's like hitting a double jackpot! In order to be able to help connect readers with books, I need to know a lot of books written for kids of all ages and interests. This is something I strongly believe, and I try to read a lot of children's books. I don't have to try very hard--I love reading books written for kids. This summer I'm trying to become more familiar with novels I put off reading while working with my first graders this year, and have been especially trying to read more books that appeal to upper elementary aged boys. Being a girl and a fiction lover, I sometimes unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally) overlook books that may draw boys in the 9-12 year old range. Luckily, I have a 10 year old boy at my house! I mentioned my goal to my son, also a voracious reader, and he's got a big stack pulled aside for me. He checks about every other day to see how I'm coming with it.

I'm also planning to reread some professional books related to topics of focus for my school in the upcoming year. Since we'll likely be focusing on accelerating progress for struggling readers, much of my rereading will focus on that. My role will also be changing for next year, so I'm going back through some of my books on teacher leadership and instructional coaching. Choosing to focus my rereading is deliberate. I like to go back and reread from time to time because it takes my thinking deeper. It forces me to continue to refine my knowledge and consider again how what I read might look when applied in the classroom. I also know that every time I reread something, I notice or think about something that I didn't before.

I also have a stack of journal articles that I didn't get to this spring. My goal is to catch up before starting a new pile in the fall. I may not make it. They started piling up earlier than usual this spring, so the stack is pretty big! I'll also read a couple professional books that are new to me. Often these are recently published books that I see in fliers or are by experts whose names I recognize. I read reviews and book descriptions and love when I can peek at the table of contents or even a chapter or two before committing to purchase. I keep a running list of professional books I hear about at conferences and workshops or that are recommended by colleagues. Reading new stuff helps me stay up to date professionally and helps me extend my learning in areas where I have set goals for myself or that come about as a result of a professional development experience. I haven't yet placed an Amazon order for new professional books this summer--I'm still narrowing my list to something manageable for my budget!

What about you? Do you plan to do some professional reading along with lots of reading for the fun of it over the summer? How do you decide what to read?


  1. I believe that I could trace through your ideas, point by point, & say 'yes, yes, & yes'. My first response for the summer is that I read like a thirsty soul. I continue to read during the school year too, but rarely enough for my wishes, & not so much just for me. I have a stack of fiction, non-fiction (adult & YA) & in addition I'm trying to keep up with good books for the age group a little younger than YA, just as you mentioned. If you'd like to share your son's list, I'd love it. I too need to catch up with my journals, but mostly I need to read more about coaching. There too, Ruth, if you have any books you love, please let me know. Our librarian at school & I are offering a "Looking for Newbery" book club next year, starting about Oct., so we're trading book ideas that we hear about & previewing them in order to be ready. Thanks for the question. As usual, I love hearing you talking about what you do.

  2. I'm with Linda on this one too -- I was reading your post, shaking my head in agreement, "Yes. Uh huh. Yup. Me too."

    I've got the stack of journals -- they do seem to pile up starting about March! I've got several professional books ready to read, including "Catching Readers Before They Fall" (Johnson and Keier), "Day by Day" (Ayres and Shubitz), and "The Book Whisperer" (Miller). I'm on the look out for 2 books to bring back to my building to do a book study this year. I'm sure I'd have a stack of books I would have loved to drag home from school to reread, but . . . I also have to spend time with my family and two little girls! :)

    I'm also on a new mission to read as many YA novels out there as well. I love picture books, but in order to help my students navigate the library to find good fit books, I need to catch up! Currently I'm reading "True -- sort of" (Hannigan). Good so far!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. As Linda mentioned, please be sharing the great articles and books that you recommend!

  3. I have the stack of fiction that you have supplied me with, plus some that I have added on my own.
    However, it seems that this may be the summer of Non-fiction for me. I am currently reading "When Helping Hurts" about poverty and "the church". It's a little on the religious side for some, but I appreciate the connection the book makes to humans helping humans and how churches can re-evaluate how they help those in poverty. It also gives a radical definition of poverty that might be more true than the definition I think of on a normal basis. Also on my non-fiction list is "Love Wins" by Rob Bell. He is a well-known pastor from Michigan who really tries to off-put legalism in Christianity and get to the practicality of Jesus and his life. The book has been quite controversial, and I am looking forward to reading what he has to say about the concepts of Heaven and Hell.

    I also have a stack of professional books at school that have been given, loaned, and recommended. Beyond that, I was just thinking of going through all of the materials I got from your literacy training several years ago. I compiled them into a three ring binder and feel that now that I am not trying to tread water as a teacher, it might be a good time to go back and freshen up on some basic concepts and ideas.
    I wish I was better at reading YA novels. Maybe you and "youngest" could give me a list... another summer. But, i do try to stay up on children's literature- all genres. That is where I can most likely be found in a Barnes and Noble. Thanks for asking-- and for sharing!

  4. Wow, I feel like a reading wimp next to you. I have more like whims rather than plans. A giant rubbermaid tub labeled: I WANT TO READ. I reach in, pick one out and then read it. See, a reading plan on a whim. :) (Of course I did take the time to sort the books and select them for the I WANT TO READ tub. :)