At Culver School, children are encouraged to read for the pure love of literature. To keep the enthusiasm going while they’re on vacation, Culver offers a student reading program during the summer break.
Last spring, as they have been doing for years, teachers visited the classrooms of students who will be entering grades 5-8 in fall 2019. The teachers gave “book talks” on a variety of books – many suggested by students – that students could choose from at each grade level. They distributed copies so the students could browse through them before making a decision.
Students then were asked to fill out a Google form indicating their top two picks from the books being offered. All students received a copy of their first or second choice along with a customized bookmark during the last week of school.
Representative titles include “The First Rule of Punk” by Celia C. Perez for 5th graders, “El Deafo” by CeCe Bell for 6th graders, and “Chasing Lincoln’s Killer” by James L. Swanson for 8th graders.
The summer reading program does not involve grades. Students are asked to read the book they choose over the summer and come prepared to discuss it when school resumes in the fall. During the second week of school, students who read the same book work together on a creative project that highlights their understanding and appreciation of the book.
Culver partners with the Niles-Maine District Library for the summer reading program. This year, the library featured a Culver summer reading section in its young adult/children’s section. Librarian Mikey Orzechowski – known to student as Miss Mikey – serves as the school liaison.
This summer, Culver also partnered with the library to host a literacy lunch for students entering grades 6-8. Students brought books they wanted to share, and the audience of about 30 attendees heard brief discussions of 20 books as they enjoyed pizza. Afterward, the students wrote down the title of a book that interested them, which they would receive on the first day of school.
“Summer reading at Culver is for fun!” said principal Erica Smolinski. “We have so many readers here, children and adults, and we know that providing ways to connect with books that appeal to them helps spread the love of literature. Even our school-year curriculum includes high-interest books for our students.
“As the new school year gets under way, we continue to plan many literacy-related events. Stay tuned for the next chapter!”