Summer reading strategies

It’s already the middle of the summer. Do you know where your summer reading books are?

If you answered “no,” don’t worry. While you don’t want to put your summer reading off until the day before school starts, there is still enough time to not only get your reading done, but also really remember what you’ve read so you can be prepared to talk about the book on the first day of class.

Here are a few strategies you can try to get your summer reading finished and truly understand what the book is about:

  1. Set Weekly Reading Goals
    OK, let’s say you have a 300-page book you need to finish by Aug. 27. Instead of trying to read everything at the last minute, break the book up into manageable chunks. Divide up the number of pages by the number of weeks left in the summer and then mark your calendar with how many pages you’ll need to read each week in order to be finished by the due date. You can even set a reminder on your phone to alert you to when you need to start reading. Tackling a little bit at a time will make it so much easier!
  2. Read the Book with a Friend
    Instead of struggling through a book on your own, why not read it with a friend? You can either form a book club with a couple people and meet to talk about it when you’ve finished, or find one friend reading the same book and check in with them about it each week. Not only will this keep you accountable for reading, but you’ll have someone to discuss with when that one character does something really shocking.
  3. Tell Your Family About the Book
    While this might not be as much fun as talking with someone else who is also reading the book, telling your family about what you’ve read is a great way to make sure you have understood and remembered it. Give your family a summary of what is going on when you’re at dinner, or tell them some things that surprised you as you were reading.
  4. Annotate Your Book
    Struggling to remember what you just read? Try annotating your book — highlighting or underlining sentences, writing down notes in the margins or using Post-it notes to mark interesting passages. Be sure to mark down any places where you have a question or read something that surprised or interested you, as well as passages that reminded you of something in your own life, in another book or in society. Sure, it may seem like a chore, but learning how to take notes effectively is essential as you tackle more and more difficult books.
  5. Make Up Study Questions
    Want to really impress your teacher when you get back from summer break? Think about some study questions that your teacher might ask about the book, such as ones that might spark a debate or lead to further discussion. It’s a great way of getting yourself to think more deeply about the book and get yourself prepared for an in-class discussion.
  6. Keep a Vocabulary Journal
    When you come across a word you don’t know as you’re reading, jot it down in a notebook or on your phone. Then when you’re finished with the chapter, go back and look up the definition of each word. Not only will this give you a better understanding of the text, but you’ll also be strengthening your vocabulary, which will be a big benefit when it comes to taking standardized tests.