High school students help develop summer reading list online

iStock_000004896500XSmallHow do you get high school students to read over the summer? Educators at Barnstable High School in Barnstable, MA a few years ago involved students in developing a high-school wide summer reading list for the school’s website to encourage more reading. The site now includes a summer reading list of more than 1,000 books that have been recommended by students or staff.

When asked how they liked non-grade specific summer reading lists, 66% of students expressed satisfaction, reports a recent article in the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science.

“They commented that this summer reading experience was different and fun because of the variety of books and project choices and that they felt more enthusiastic about summer reading because the books they chose were highly interesting to them,” writes researcher Ya-Ling Lu.

Based on surveys of 288 high schoolers, students reported reading a mean of 3.26 books (3.79 for girls, 2.77 for boys); the researcher did not compare that figure with that of previous years.

Reviews were more mixed from teachers with some teachers noting that the wide choice of books and reading-related choices increased possibilities for cheating. For example, students could take credit for reading a book they had already read or they could do some of the projects, like redesigning a book cover, without reading the book, they said.

The new summer reading program website was launched in early May 2006. The librarian gave intensive class presentations to introduce the program to the whole school. To view the school’s summer reading list go to the school’s website (www.barnstable.k12.ma.us) and click on library.

“Engaging Students with Summer Reading: An Assessment of a Collaborative High School Summer Reading Program,” by Ya-Ling Lu, Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, Volume 50, Number 2, Spring 2009, pps. 90-106.

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