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We all want our students to stay mentally active over the long summer months, and summer reading is a tried-and-true way to achieve this. But, to banish the negative associations of the dreaded “required summer reading” list, while not create a class blog that shares fun reading options and book recommendations?
Various teachers, the school media specialist, and even older students can all post on the blog, sharing ideas and reading recommendations.
How To Get Started
- Set up a blog through a free blog hosting company, like WordPress.com or Blogger.com.
- Write your first post. You can upload pictures, book cover images, etc., and free templates are also available for blogs from places like The Cutest Blog on the Block (if you want to get cutesy).
- Create a summer schedule of who will post when. For example, assign each participating teacher, student and librarian a specific date to post their entry. Two posts on the blog per week would be ideal, but even one per week would be fine. So, if you have five participating teachers, each could post twice during the summer. That’s not too time consuming! If students post, you could potentially have a new post every day or every-other day, depending on the number of students.
What to Post About
Include blog posts about books students might be interested in, such as books by local authors, and books in a series by authors your students have already read. Be sure to create good tags or descriptions so that your students can look up what type of books they may interest in. Many book stores offer summer book clubs, book signings or other literary events; those would make great posts, as well.
Allow students to post comments on the book summaries, or list how many books they have read themselves over the summer. Encourage them to submit recommendations of books they are loving (or hating!). A little instruction may be necessary to teach students how to write a book review/recommendation without spoiling the ending.
Incentives: Of course, you could work with next year’s teachers to require your students to participate with the blog. You (and next year’s teachers) could also incentivize: students who post a thoughtful blog entry could receive an automatic 10 bonus points toward a test or assignment during the upcoming year, or they could earn a special reward on the first day of school (a candybar, privilege, homework pass, etc.).
Polls: Generate more activity on the blog by including polls. Include poll questions like: What genre do you like best? (mystery/suspense, historical fiction, biography, fiction, science fiction, etc.)
Pictures: Liven up the blog with frequent pictures, such as covers of the books you mention in postings, as well as photos taken at the library. Consider adding activities to the blog suggesting fun activities such as a scavenger hunt at the library, or a competition where students submit photos of them dressed like their favorite characters. Allow younger students to draw pictures of their favorite scene from the book, and post the pictures online too.
Make sure you (and a fellow teacher or two) approve all students posts before they go live. And consider using private settings on the blog, too, to ensure that only approved people have access.
Some Interesting Blogs to Check Out
To get inspired, check out these reading blogs:
GreenBeanTeenQueen. A librarian blogger who provides reviews on teen and tween literature.
MotherReader. This mom writes fun and interesting posts mostly featuring picture books.
Happy summer blogging!