July 11, 2023

Summer Reading Strategies to Make Required Reading a Breeze

By Emma Michiels, Instructor

Summer reading assignments can sometimes feel like an intimidating task, however with the right approach and summer reading strategies, students can breeze through them while still enjoying their vacation time. Here are some specific strategies that will help students before your student tackles that summer reading assignment, during the reading itself and after they’ve finished the task. By following these tips, students will be able to successfully navigate the end-to-end process.

Before Reading

  • Preview the Text: Before diving into the book, take a few minutes to preview it. For novels, make sure to read the back cover, chapter titles, and a summary from to get a basic sense of the story. For textbooks, make sure to read the chapter title, objectives, and guiding questions prior to reading to get a sense of what the chapter will cover. Also, scan the headings and subheadings for even more clarity. This will give students a general idea of the book’s structure and content, helping them prepare mentally for what lies ahead.
  • Tap into (or Create!) Background Knowledge: Activate student’s prior knowledge related to the book’s subject matter. If it’s a historical novel, for example, ask students what they already know about the relevant time period, events, or prominent figures. If the book takes place in an unfamiliar place, look up pictures, so that they can visualize their characters exploring the area. Connecting what they already know with the content of the book will deepen their understanding and engagement.
  • Review Assignment Directions: Students should carefully read through the assignment directions provided by their teacher. Understand the purpose of the reading and what they are expected to achieve from it. A strategy such as CUE to break down the directions is a helpful way for students to think about what their teacher is asking them, and why.  This will help students approach the book with a clear focus and set appropriate goals for their reading.
  • Map Out a Reading Plan: Avoid last minute stress by creating an achievable reading plan. Divide the total number of pages by the number of days students have until the deadline, and write down this daily target on a calendar or planner to hold students accountable. Although we want to hold our students accountable to their reading, it is important to also be realistic in what they may be able to accomplish on a given day. If a student falls behind their reading plan, it might feel daunting for them to catch up. If a student ever falls behind on 20 minutes a day, break up the reading into even smaller chunks such as 10 minutes a day to help them feel accomplished, rather than overwhelmed. 

During Reading:

  • Take Notes: While reading, actively engage with the text by taking notes. Students can annotate directly in the book, use sticky notes to mark important passages or jot down thoughts, or utilize a graphic organizer to visually represent key ideas, characters, or plot developments. For example, color-coding sticky notes can benefit students in separating key aspects of a book. Blue sticky notes can be for important quotes, green can be for plot twists, yellow can show when a new character is introduced. This strategy takes less than five seconds, but can change a student’s entire understanding of a book! These notes will serve as valuable references when writing summaries or participating in class discussions later on.
  • Organization of Ideas/Strategies: Taking notes is great, but how do we organize student’s ideas to help them better understand a text? Organizational tools like graphic organizers, writing templates, and active reading strategies can help cultivate organized thinking around their summer reading. 
  • Try Audiobooks: If students find it challenging to stay focused or if your student has a busy schedule, consider listening to the audiobook version of the assigned reading. It is important when using an audiobook to follow along with the text so students can annotate and practice reading so that when audio books aren’t available, they are well prepared to read on their own! 
  • Access “Getting Unstuck” strategies: Tap into students’ problem-solving skills as they read. If they don’t understand a vocab word or concept, what strategies will they use to help? Maybe try using a dictionary, ask an adult, or use context clues to figure out the word/concept.  If their focus level starts to wane, how can they get themselves back on track? This might mean it’s time for  a movement break, a shift in focus, or a snack/water. Students should  consider creating their own “Getting Unstuck” checklist and utilizing the problem-solving strategies as needed during their reading task.

After Reading:

  • Refer back to assignment directions: Once your student finished reading the book, revisit the assignment directions to ensure they are fully prepared. Using CUE, students should know if they must  write a book summary, prepare for a class discussion, or complete any other related tasks. This step will help them organize their thoughts and plan their next steps accordingly.
  • Consider a quick book review: Spend a few minutes evaluating the book. What did they like about the book, and what did they not like? What did your student think of the author’s writing style or point of view? How, if at all, might they personally connect to this book? Jot down these notes on a sticky note or even just have a conversation about the book with a parent, friend or teacher to share their thoughts.

With these effective summer reading strategies for tackling that required reading, students can make the most of their reading experience and excel in any related assignments. So grab a book, find a cozy spot, and embark on a rewarding reading journey!

About Engaging Minds:

Engaging Minds is a leading executive functioning coaching organization that offers personalized, one-on-one tutoring services for students in grades 2-12. Engaging Minds provides students with learning skills and strategies to become motivated, independent, and confident learners. Drawing from a methodology designed to enhance academic engagement, strengthen executive function and learning skills, and provide content support, Engaging Minds instructors develop individualized learning programs that meet the needs of each student to improve their executive functioning skills and overall learning experience including: organization of materials, organization of ideas, planning & time management, initiating tasks, flexibility and transitions, motivation & self-confidence, working memory and self-monitoring and follow-through.

Engaging Minds’ experienced instructors help students manage nightly homework, long-term assignments, and unlock their full potential. With a learning center in Newton, Massachusetts, and a team of highly trained educational executive functioning coaches nationwide working virtually with students, Engaging Minds provides tailored support to meet the diverse needs of students – both in person and online. Engaging Minds’ mission is to provide Tools for Learning and Skills for Life™, empowering students to succeed academically and beyond.