4 summer reading strategies: Tips for getting it done…well

Katie Azevedogood habits, homework, reading comprehension, study skills

By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

Summer reading: you either hate it or love tolerate it. Regardless, it’s one of those things that has to get done, despite our preference to fall asleep in a hammock by the lake. Below are 4 summer reading strategies that will help you not only do the reading, but remember it too. 

If these 4 tips aren’t enough, here are 3 more summer reading strategies for you.

4 summer reading strategies

1. Make a reading schedule and stick to it.

Stop telling yourself that you have all summer to read your books. Lies. Here’s how to make a reading schedule:

  1. Pick a deadline for finishing your book. 
  2. Calculate how many days you have between now and then. 
  3. Divide the total number of pages in your book by how many days you have to read it. The result is how many pages pr day you need to read to finish the book on time. 
  4. On a blank calendar, write out the exact pages you will read each day. (Don’t just write out how many pages you’ll read … but include the actual page numbers.) If you miss a day of reading because you fell asleep at the beach, then just be sure to catch up the next day.

Here’s an example:

Summer reading strategies - Summer reading schedule
This is what a summer reading schedule could look like.

2. Preview the book before reading it.

Before reading a book you’ve never heard of, do some Google-level research on it. Read reviews on Amazon, skim through a summary on Cliff Notes (no, this isn’t cheating, as long as you actually read the book), see what pops up on Google Images, or learn a little about the author. Diving into a book you know nothing about is hard, so prime yourself before you begin. (There’s a risk for spoiler alerts here, so beware.)

In the name of science, lol, I ran an experiment to prove my point here. I typed “Tale of Two Cities overview” into Google, then filtered by Google Images. These here are the results: As you can see, the results would be extremely helpful in establishing a baseline before you read the book.

3. Write chapter summaries after reading each chapter.

I’ve gone over this strategy a million times in other posts and videos, but it’s worth explaining again, especially in the context of summer reading. After you read each chapter (don’t wait any longer than that), write out a brief summary of events. You can use bullet points, full sentences, fragments, whatever. Write these summaries directly in the book at the end of the chapter, or on a separate piece of paper.

These chapter summaries will not only serve as reference sheets when you return to school in the fall, but the very process of thinking about and summarizing the chapters after you read them will reinforce the material so that you’ll be less likely to forget it in the first place. Boom. Of the summer reading strategies in this post, this one is the clincher.

4. Keep track of characters.

Unless your book only has one character (boring?), it can be a good idea to track the key characters and their development as you read.

For starters, keep a running list of character names as they pop up in the book. As you learn more about the characters, record these details. You can turn this character list into a bookmark, which is obviously convenient because it marks your pages and is easy to refer back to if you forget who a character is. If you need to remember details about any character when you return to school in the fall, you’re all set.

Summer reading strategies: Bonus tip

Of all the summer reading strategies I could give you, the best one is to … wait for it … actually do your summer reading. (Gasp.)

Sure, there are going to be one million other things you’d rather do with your precious free time, but returning to school in the fall without having done your summer reading will backfire. You might not love your books (or you might!), but … read them anyways. 🙂

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