Research Statement

            Traditionally summer reading programs in American high schools have two components: 1) a list of grade-specific required readings, and 2) a book report or some kind of project assessed by teachers to determine whether students actually read the books. Neither of these components has seemed to engage students; they complain about having a lack of choice about what they read and the routine assignments they are given along with the one or two books they have to read. Would students be more motivated by a summer reading program which is collaboratively designed by the larger community, including the students themselves? If so, what would such a program look like? The school librarian and five English teachers from American High School (AHS) tackled these questions. They agreed to use research findings to set the following guiding principles for the development of the program.


1.      The purpose of the program would be to encourage students to read more because

      students get better at reading (and writing) by reading. 

2.      Since an important element in reading motivation is choice, the new summer reading program would offer students many choices.

3.      The new summer reading program will engage students by collecting their recommendations for book titles.

4.      In order to accommodate multiple intelligences, student projects will include several options to writing.

5.      Since students like to do reading responses that mimic activities in which they like to engage, projects would incorporate these kinds of activities.

6.      Since students like to spend time on computers, the program would be web-based.

7.      The website would be visually attractive with lots of colorful graphics.



Research Questions

            In this context, the researcher developed the following questions to examine this collaborative project:

1.      How does a collaborative summer reading program affect the reading behaviors and attitudes of adolescents?

2.      What can we learn about student reading? What types of books are most popular among students? What are some of the particular behaviors in terms of reading motivation?

3.      Was this collaboration successful?




            The researcher surveyed students and interviewed teachers and the school librarian. A purposive random sample of 288 students and 11 teachers ensured representation of students and teachers from each of the three homogeneously grouped tracks: Honors (high achieving students), College Prep 2 (average performing students), and College Prep 1 (low achieving students). The responses of the teachers, students and librarian were collected in order to gain different perspectives on the summer reading and assignments as well as their respective perceptions about the overall effectiveness of this collaboration.





      Preliminary findings show that the majority of students in a high school benefit from a collaborative summer reading program. In general, students enjoyed the freedom to browse and select among a variety of booklists. They learned to deal with some personal and social challenges, they learned to find better websites, and they read and wrote with more confidence. This implies that collaboration is an important component of school library services and should be more fully explored and evaluated. The study also suggests that we need to understand why a collaborative summer reading program did not have the same effects for low and high performing students. Are there other interventions that would help low-achieving students engage in reading?