Summer Reading 1.0

I loved the Summer Reading Program that our Summer Reading Committee ran for 6 years.

It gave each grade level a choice of 10 books.
Here’s a link to an OLD Summer Reading Page
It promoted YA Literature.
It culminated in small group discussions and not grades. After all, isn’t that what lifelong readers do? Talk about books.

Small groups of 15 or fewer students participated in 30 minute discussions during a Summer Reading Convo in August during the first week of school. What’s not to love about a special school schedule to promote reading?

Teachers from all curricular areas helped lead these reading discussions. Many volunteered…some I convinced.

A few parents, a few district administrators and local librarians volunteered too.

The last two  years, senior students volunteered to serve as discussion leaders.

Book List Selection Began in December
The 10 book list for each grade level was created using a grid that included a mystery, science-fiction, fantasy, chick-lit, sports, adult read, non-fiction, classic and we tried to include one lighter read. We also tried to find titles of varying reading abilities.

But, the rest of the administrative side was unwieldy and time-consuming.
Essentially, we organized a one period, one day master schedule for each student and the process began in early May.

Every English class received a 10 book booktalk in early May and English teachers collected choices for us.

8th Grade Visits
We’re not a unit district, so we visited our main sender school: Glen Crest Middle School and delivered booktalks. Their 8th grade teachers and school librarian graciously collected student choices for us.

Another middle school sent just 20% of their students to my high school. The 8th grade counselor helped us out there!

We contacted all ll other students by mail.

The Dreaded Spreadsheet
All these choices led to the 1400 student Excel Spreadsheet  For 5 years, Steph Wallace @librarianerd managed this spreadsheet and made it look easy. It wasn’t. When her job morphed into the Director of Instructional Technology and she had to focus on teacher tech. training, I took over this piece. Wow-it made me nervous. One wrong sort or added cell in the wrong spot and I might never recover the data. Fortunately, nothing went wrong, but it easily could have.

Discussion Questions Created & Emailed
We created or found discussion questions for every book and emailed them to each leader.

Student leaders were trained.

Summer Contact
We contacted students that enrolled in the summer or those that were absent in May needed by phone and again by mail.

When School Began
The spreadsheet was merged with current student data that incorporated their updated course schedule.

Any student missing a selection was assigned to a group, even if he/she hadn’t read.

Then, the 30 minute simultaneous book discussions could happen.


Letter to Penguin/Random House- Despise eBook Library Model

Dear Penguin/Random House Marketing Leadership,

 $15,000 spent on Overdrive eBooks at my High School in 2 1/2 years
$400 spent on Penguin/Random House ebook titles

I thought you might want to know that I (and others like me) despise the lending model that you have created at Overdrive.

I refuse to spend dollars on Penguin/Random House titles unless I know they will circulate heavily. So, I have purchased John Green titles and books that have been made into recent movies.

I tested a few titles last year and as they expired recently several circulated 1-3 times.

So, Harper Collins and publishers with the One Book/One User model that never expire, priced under $25,  get nearly all of my eBook Budget – $4K a year, plus.

As more schools roll out 1:1 and every student gets an iPad or laptop you can expect other schools with big eBook budgets to spend their money just like me.

I thought you might want to know and hope that you’ll make a change soon! Then, I’d gladly shift a large portion of my budget to your titles.

Also, please note that as a high school, I purchase as many Adult books as I do YA/Children’s Titles.


Diane Mankowski
Library Director
National Board Certified Teacher
Glenbard South High School, Glen Ellyn, IL

Twitter: @DianeMankowski

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