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Children sit next to each other on a classroom carpet. One child has her hand extended, thumb raised.


Amanda Gooch

Amanda Gooch

June 1, 2023

Have you ever heard of the “summer slide?” It can be common for kids to lose some of their learning over the summer break. While it is common, that doesn’t mean it can’t be helped. One way to keep students’ literacy skills steady and growing over the summer is to read, read, and read some more. Reading to young children is an important way to help them build language skills and develop listening and comprehension skills. It exposes them to new words and ways of using language. It also supports creativity and learning about the world around them.

During one of our professional development workshops this past school year we emphasized emergent literacy and engagement with Alan Guttman. We had multiple interactions on the importance of play and engagement in learning. We also discussed developmentally appropriate emergent literacy and nurturing pre-reading and pre-writing in early childhood education.

Remember, emergent literacy takes place within the child. It is a gradual process that takes place over time. Literacy develops from real life situations in which children are provided many opportunities to see how reading is useful and meaningful within those experiences.

When thinking about emergent literacy, how can we encourage a love for reading with our early learners?

Here are some fun tips to make summer reading great and help promote child engagement:

  1. 1. Letter Water Table: Create a letter water table for some fun outdoor learning. You can write letters, shapes and even a variety of colors on ping pong balls or large letter stamps. Your students can then “fish” using a small fishing net or cup.

  2. 2. Set-Up a Reading Nook: Create a fresh and new cozy reading nook in your classroom where your students can relax and enjoy reading. Fill it with comfortable cushions, blankets, and some favorite books. You can even add some fairy lights or decorations to make it more inviting.

  3. 3. Outdoor Storytelling: Take advantage of the nice weather and encourage outdoor storytelling sessions. Let your students use their imagination to create stories or retell their favorite books. You can sit in the garden, at the playground, or even go on a nature walk while taking turns telling stories.

  4. 4. Write and Illustrate a Book: Encourage your students to write and illustrate their own classroom book. Provide them with blank notebooks or paper, art supplies, and writing prompts if needed. They can create their own characters, settings, and plot. Once the book is complete, have a class reading session to celebrate their accomplishments.

  5. 5. D.E.A.R: Drop Everything and Read is a great way to create fun and excitement around reading for pleasure. It sends a message that reading for pleasure is important, and something everyone should make time for. Any school, group, family or individual can Drop Everything and Read. Choose a regular time that suits you. Let everyone know, and at the appropriate time, just Drop Everything and Read!

For more information on Drop Everything and Read, click on this link.

During Alan Guttman’s training we were also introduction to the R.A. McWilliam’s Scale for Teachers’ Assessment of Routines Engagement (STARE). To access a PDF of the handout, click this link.

By using the STARE tool we can observe teacher-child interactions and rate the amount of time a child is engaged with adults, peers, and materials. We can also rate the complexity of the child's engagement. This allows all of us an incredible insight as educators in our path to high quality engagement. When we make a conscious effort to consider the regard for a child’s perspective we are capturing the degree to which the teacher’s interactions with children and classroom activities emphasize children’s interests, motivations, and points of view and encourage children’s responsibility and independence.

Some kids naturally have a love of reading, and some kids maybe haven’t found the right books yet. If your students aren’t running to pick up a book while they are in class or at home over summer, you can encourage them by making it a fun challenge.

Looking for quick book recommendations?

Of course, your local library will be the best place to have tons of books at your fingertips. If you set up a day each week to visit, it can be a fun way to stock up on books. Libraries often have free summer reading programs and events as well. For a list of 50 summer books for kids, click this link.

I hope you all have an incredible start to your summer. I can’t wait to hear about the amazing literacy and child engagement experience you achieve this month. I look forward to seeing you all in person during our Conscious Discipline workshop on Saturday, August 26th. 

Wishing you the best,


A woman reads a book to a classroom.
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