Summer Reading Program

The Summer Reading Program (SRP) has become a model of what F65 can achieve by funding and incubating teacher-initiated projects. It has been in effect for the past 12 years and was developed by District 65 Reading Recovery teacher, Linda Shusterman, in response to the considerable summer reading loss, known as “summer slump” that she witnessed in her students over the years.

Research has shown that struggling readers, engage in very little reading during their summer vacation. This lack of reading often causes students to lose from one to three months of reading achievement, negatively impacting whatever ground they have gained during the previous year. The Summer Reading Program supports reading growth by providing books throughout the summer break to rising second grade students who have received supplementary reading support in their first grade year. From June through August, teachers exchange letters with these students and send them books in the mail. The teachers also support the adults in these young readers’ lives to guide them as they facilitate reading throughout the summer. By keeping these striving readers engaged, they are able to maintain the growth they had attained during the school year and start their second grade year off at or beyond their first grade reading level.

How It Works

In the spring the teacher leaders identify, purchase, and display books for the participating teachers to use in selecting books for their students.  Participating teachers conduct parent meetings to explain how the program works and to share suggestions for keeping children actively engaged in reading over the summer months.

Foundation 65 Summer Reading ProgramDuring the summer, students receive six packages with four books, for a total of 24 books over the three months.  The books, which are carefully selected by the Reading Recovery teacher or reading specialist who has worked with the student throughout the year, are a combination of fiction and non-fiction texts that reflect the special interests of each student and matches the student’s end of year reading level.  In each package of books, the students receive a personalized letter from the teacher, some writing materials, and a stamped envelope so they can mail a letter back to the teacher.  This is an authentic way to keep students actively engaged in both reading and writing throughout the summer.  Students are allowed to keep the books they receive.  In addition, they get a magazine subscription so that they will continue to receive reading material throughout 2nd grade.

Growth of the program

Foundation 65 has helped expand and grow this program from a few schools to every elementary school in District 65.

Summer 2011

  • 68 students (59 English speaking / 9 Spanish speaking)
  • 7 schools (Dawes, Lincoln, King Lab, Kingsley, Oakton, Walker and Washington)
  • 12 Reading Recovery teachers
  • 1,632 books distributed

Summer 2012

  • 94 students (72 English / 22 Spanish)
  • 10 schools (added Lincolnwood and Spanish speaking students at Dewey and Willard)
  • 17 Reading Recovery/Guided Reading+ teachers
  • 2,256 books distributed and 94 magazine subscriptions

Summer 2013

  • 132 students (109 English / 23 Spanish)
  • 12 schools (added Bessie Rhodes, Orrington and English speaking students at Dewey and Willard)
  • 23 Reading Recovery/Guided Reading+ teachers
  • 3,168 books distributed and 132 magazine subscriptions

Summer 2014

  • 134 students (117 English / 17 Spanish)
  • 12 schools
  • 31 Reading Recovery / Guided Reading + / Literacy Lessons (special education) teachers
  • 3216 books distributed and 132 magazine subscriptions


Each participating student takes a reading assessment in May/June of the school year and again at the beginning of the next school year (September) to measure his/her growth in reading.

Past results indicate that approximately 90% of the students maintain the reading level that they achieved at the end of the school year.  The exciting finding has been that of this 90%, a significant number (55%) of participating students actually increase their reading level when they return to school in September.

In the summer of 2014, for the first time, we were able to include special education students and so EVERY student who received reading support in 1st grade (Reading Recovery, Guided Reading+, or Literacy Lessons) had the opportunity to be part of this program.