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Summer Reading Bingo
a challenge sent out from my school library (join us!)
Today marks the start of my summer break! 🥳 There’s no sign of sunny days yet here in San Diego (as our greyest May ever I think bled into the standard June Gloom), but summer is my favorite reading season and the break from my family’s school responsibilities feels so freeing. I have a lot planned for myself for this summer in terms of reading, writing, journaling, and digital organization (emails and pictures— yikes!), and that includes, hopefully, more newsletters.
To celebrate the start of summer break, I wanted to share the summer reading challenge I made for the students at my school at the end of the year. I made a printable bingo card and shared a little about my Book-Whisperer-inspired philosophies on reading across genres. I also shared links with them for local summer reading programs and a link to get a public library card in case they needed that. Here’s what I posted on my school library google site to describe the challenge and the philosophy…
What's a genre?
A genre is a category or type of book. This is different than book format (is the book a picture book, chapter book, middle grade (upper fiction) book, graphic novel?). Every format of books also has genres within its format.
Here are the genres for this challenge:
Fantasy/Sci-Fi-- these books contains something magical/unreal, or something scientific or futuristic (like a setting in space or a dystopian book where the author imagines a future where the world has changed). Examples: Harry Potter, Land of Stories, Moon Base Alpha, Aru Shah, Keeper of the Lost Cities, Wings of Fire, Magic Tree House.
Biography/Nonfiction-- I combined these two genres for our bingo card. Biographies are books about a real person, and this includes autobiography and memoir which are biographies written by the person they are about. Nonfiction is simply not a made-up story-- animals, dinosaurs, history, sports. Who/What Was books are great for this category! There are some graphic novels that are actually memoirs like Smile, When Stars Are Scattered, and El Deafo.
Realistic Fiction-- these are books with a story that could be true/set in the real world, and are usually set in our generally current time period. You can decide whether you think a book is "realistic" or not. 😉 Some popular ideas: Front Desk, The Penderwicks, Because of Winn-Dixie, The Vanderbeekers, Holes, Babysitters Club.
Humor-- any book that makes you laugh! Examples: Frindle, Sideways Stories from Wayside School, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, Timmy Failure, 13-Story Treehouse, Mercy Watson.
Mystery-- any book where characters have a puzzle or something unknown to figure out. This could include spy books like City Spies and Spy School. More examples: A to Z Mysteries, Greenglass House, Book Scavenger, Masterpiece, Ali Cross.
Historical Fiction-- a book that takes place in the past. Sorry parents, I hate to say it, but books set in the 1980s or 1990s now qualify as "historical fiction" for our kids. 😂 A few examples: FunJungle, Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, Island of the Blue Dolphins, By the Great Horned Spoon, The Black Stallion.
Graphic Novels can be from any genre (have fun!) and include comic books and longer graphic novels or graphic adaptations. Free Choice of Genre just means you pick any genre, even those not on our challenge like poetry/novel in verse or classics.
Many books fit in more than one genre-- if that's the case, you get to decide where to put it!
For parents, a little more about this challenge
This mini challenge was inspired by one of my favorite books about reading and literacy, called The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. I highly recommend this book if you would like to learn more about the benefits of choice and reading widely across genres for children's literacy and love of reading. Reading across genres helps kids find what they like and actually stick with reading books that aren't just assigned. Ms. Miller cites research which states that students who simply read more outperform students who don't read as much.
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Ms. Miller's book describes a philosophy and reading challenge called The 40 Book Challenge. My own kids have participated in this challenge during their upper elementary school years, and have grown immensely as readers through it.
Here are a few notes from Ms. Miller that I think also apply to our mini summer challenge (source):
"The 40 Book Challenge is a personal challenge for each student, not a contest or competition between students or classes. In every competition or contest there are winners and losers. Why would we communicate to our students that they are reading losers?"
"Honestly, I don’t care if all of my students read 40 books or not. What matters is that students stretch themselves as readers and increase their competence, confidence, and reading motivation through their daily participation in our reading community."
"Students who haven’t read much may not have found the books that speak to them. Reading buffet-style—tasting all types of books—students can discover what the world of reading has to offer."
"Developing students’ positive reading identities and development as lifelong readers—these must remain our priorities every day, all year long." YES!
Are there prizes?
While I don't have prizes planned for this challenge per se (because it's not a competition or contest), I will hand out some fun bookmarks at the start of the year to kids who show me that they participated in the challenge by reading over the summer. I would love to see the bingo cards after summer and I will celebrate with your kids any squares that they mark off, whether they complete it or not! I'll also compile some stats to display in our library with bingo cards that are turned into me at the start of the year. 6th graders moving on-- come back and visit me with your bingo card! 😀 Parents, you can participate with your own bingo card, too!
Newsletter readers, would you like to join in?
If you’d like to download the bingo card (just click the link above) and participate (you and/or your kids!), you can share your completed card with me by taking a picture of it and DMing it to me on Instagram (@nicoleviolabooks), or emailing me by replying to any of my newsletters. Send me your completed bingo card by July 31st, 2023 along with your mailing address and I will mail you a bookmark to celebrate. 😎
Happy summer and happy reading!