Category Archives: SummerReading

Talk at home about…sailing into summer reading!

IMG_4617Wait a minute! What does this picture of beautiful Lake Champlain have to do with summer reading? Today was field trip day for the middle schoolers who participated in the Classical Connections summer reading program! Now in it’s 5th year, this collaboration between CCS and the Charlotte Public Library has grown into one of my most favorite things to do with my students!

Each year, students read a modern novel paired with a classic. This year’s classical connections were The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong and Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Is the picture making more sense to you now? Good! Over this past week, students have read and talked about two amazing stories, participated in activities like “How to Survive if You’re Lost at Sea”, written about the books using their Young Writers Project blogs, created fictional journals, and today they learned how to sail! The week just flew by, and I hope that this quick jump-start to summer reading will carry through the rest of the summer months for my students. I am so thankful to families that share their children with me. I find constant delight in my students, and am always amazed at their insights into what they are reading. I am also grateful for our strong Vermont community connections. This program would not be possible without the help of Cheryl Sloan and the awesome Charlotte Library staff. I am also grateful to Kathy Folley and the Young Writers Project Staff who provide a tool for students to capture their thinking in writing.  Appreciation to Mrs. Williams and Mr. Lutz for offering this program as a choice to help complete summer reading requirements.  Thanks to Sharon Colvin of the Vermont Department of Libraries for supporting the goodness of this program and helping to spread the word around the state. The Charlotte community also played a huge role this year! A Front Porch Forum request brought out donations for the week of nautical charts that illustrate the very setting of The Great Wide Sea! Alex Bunten of the Charlotte News visited and  graciously answered questions about a recent sailing trip of his own! Thanks also go to the Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center for an awesome experience today. Not only were my students making connections to the books they read as they sailed, they did so on the gorgeous Lake Champlain canvas. I so appreciate the opportunity for my students to make a connection to this beautiful body of water. Stewardship of  our local natural resources begins with simply experiencing them! Many thanks to Alex Kroll, who appreciates the middle school soul, and supports their reading adventures from summer to summer. I cannot forget to thank the entire Charlotte community, who welcome a middle school takeover of our public library space for a week every summer.  As you can see, it really does take a village! I’m so happy that my students get to experience something that develops around them with the help of many community hands.  See the slide show below for the story of our week in pictures, and sail on into summer my friends!

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Filed under 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Books, Collaboration, DCF, Fun, Learning, Middle School, reading, SummerReading, Writing, Young Writers Project

Talk at home about…a great way to start the summer!

We are just ending our first full week of summer vacation, and some of us spent it reading! The Charlotte Public Library and Charlotte Central School are celebrating a 4th year of collaboration on our “Classic Connections” Middle School Summer Reading Program. This past week, thanks to a generous grant from a local patron, 20 CCS 7th & 8th graders spent two hours a day with us at the public library discussing Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld and The Time Machine by H.G. Wells; adapted by Lewis Helfand.

What? Middle schoolers in the library during summer vacation? Whaaaattt? Yes, my friends, your close reading strategies are working. Here’s why the program works.  Our awesome 7th & 8th grade Language Arts teachers offer the completion of this program as a choice for students to satisfy their summer reading requirements. That’s really amazing and has a huge impact on attendance! Their support is the key. I’d like to share some of our students’ accomplishments, as well as some of their own words. Over the course of the week, students:

Read 536 pages! Wow!
“Reading 90 pages [a night] goes faster than I thought.”
“I learned to organize my time so I finished all my reading.”
“Re-reading helps.”

Contributed to daily group discussions of our readings.
“Discussing books is fun!”
“Graphic novels are just as good as a normal novel.”
“Steampunk is a fun genre.”
“Reading is fun.”

Contributed to the Young Writers Project with daily writing and podcasts!
“Podcasts are fun to do!”
“When you combine ideas, it has a better outcome.”
“I had fun on YWP.”
“Don’t change the YWP writing.”

Created altered books illustrating major symbols and themes from our readings.
“I learned how to ruin a book and then make it awesome!”
“Don’t change the fun art project.”

Of course, we also asked students for feedback. Middle schoolers are really good at giving feedback! For some, the genre was a challenge. For others, the amount of reading was challenging. Others requested more opportunities for movement, and would love a field trip incorporated into the program. We have done field trips in the past, and I agree. They do add to the program!

Here are a few pictures that show some highlights of the week.

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Finally, I’d like to leave you with a quote from one of the students’ exit cards in the section “What I learned this week”:

“The future is what mankind makes of it.” Enough said. Happy summer!





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Filed under 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Book Groups, Books, Collaboration, Learning, Middle School, reading, SummerReading, Writing, Young Writers Project

Talk at home about…Summer Reading Fun!

MH900409153“Dig into Reading” this summer with a visit to the Charlotte Public Library! Check out their website for wonderful program opportunities for all ages!

Click below for summer reading ideas. Encourage your children to read what interests them. We are often motivated by the things that make us curious. I can’t wait to hear all about favorite summertime reads when I see my students in the fall!

Mrs. H’s Recommended Reads

Includes lists of award-winning books as well as some of my favorite blogs and websites devoted to matching every reader with that perfect book.

Association for Library Service to Children Reading Lists

K-8 summer reading lists of titles recommended by kids for kids.

Here are some highlights from our summer reading collaboration with the Charlotte Public Library: Classic Connections: Jip & Oliver Twist!

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Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, booklists, Books, reading, SummerReading

Talk at home about…partnerships for good!

Partnerships are a good thing. We try to teach our students how to work together, so we should strive to do the same. We have a wonderful relationship with our public library. I’d like to highlight a couple of ways that we work together for the benefit of our students.

patternsLast week, preschoolers were treated to a guest storytime presented by Charlotte LMargaretReadingibrary Director Margaret Woodruff. The theme was patterns. Students helped Margaret read Pattern Fish by Trudy Harris, then worked on exploring and creating some patterns of their own. Margaret’s storytelling, supported with materials from The Mother Goose Program, was a huge hit with our 4-year-olds!

Today, I joined Margaret and Cheryl Sloan, Youth Services Librarian, to present our Middle School summer reading collaboration to a group of Vermont public librarians. Our aim is to help grow the connections between schools and public libraries throughout the state for the benefit of the children in our communities. WPresentatione shared how the program has progressed over the past two years and introduced grant opportunities to fund the program for interested libraries. This was a great idea that went somewhere because the people in our student’s lives took the time to talk to one another. Community members, public & school librarians, and classroom teachers all played a role. It’s a pretty good model for our students to see, I think! See my Summer Reading page to see an outline of last summer’s program. Why reinvent the wheel when we can share? Let’s keep the partnerships growing!

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Filed under 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Book Groups, Books, Collaboration, Middle School, Preschool, Readalouds, reading, SummerReading, Writing, Young Writers Project

Talk at home about…Summer Reading and Red Clover!

Thank you to all the families who sent in  pictures of your students reading over the summer! They have helped to create a fabulous “back-to-school” library bulletin board. Check it out the next time you are at school, and stop by the library for a visit. We love visitors!

Students in grades K-4 are beginning their school year with Red Clover books.  This kids’ choice book award program exposes students to quality picture books and allows me to teach and reinforce literacy and information skills over the first few months of school. Ask your student about a Red Clover book they shared recently! Please click here for more information about the program, how it addresses standards, and the power of picture books as teaching tools.

Red Clover 2012-2013.

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Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Books, InformationLiteracy, Kindergarten, reading, Red Clover, SummerReading

Talk at home about…

Mrs. H’s Recommended Reads

Check out the Charlotte Public Library’s Summer Reading Program!

And remember your local independent bookseller!

I’d love to hear about where you are reading this summer. Take a picture of your student reading and send it to me to be entered into a drawing to win a library themed goodie bag! I will accept entries via Twitter @heidihuestis, via email at, or hand delivered during the first week of school in the fall.  Remember, it doesn’t matter how you read, or where you read, or what you read…Just Read!
Guess what? Teachers & Librarians read over the summer, too! I just joined a “Summer Reading Throwdown”. Can’t wait to tell you in the fall how many books I read over the summer!

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Filed under 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade, 7th Grade, 8th Grade, Books, Kindergarten, reading, SummerReading