Teenagers & Summer Reading - A Raffle to Inspire Readers

When I began my new position this year at the high school and middle school my colleagues warned me that "teenagers don't read."  Of course, I know that pleasure reading decreases during the teen years.  When I worked in the elementary school libraries, I would tell the 6th grade students to read as much as possible for fun during that year, life was going to get busy really fast when they leave elementary school.

I remember how much homework and reading was required to be successful in my classes during my teenage years.  Add to that after school sports, clubs, activities, and part time jobs, there is barely enough time to sleep let alone pleasure read. Ok yes there is the digital distraction too.  But guess what?  I did not have a digital distraction, unless you count the landline phone.  Any pleasure reading I did was in the summer. 

Knowing the obstacles in front of me did not discourage me.  During the school year, I would talk to both students and teachers whenever I could and suggest books that I thought they might like.   Sometimes all it took was for me to hand a student a book that they knew I had carefully selected for them (I have known most of my high school students since they were in elementary school which helps.)

I recently read Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst's Disruptive Thinking: Why How We Read Matters.   The authors state that state "We have sticky-noted reading to death" (46). Education has made reading an undesirable activity for students, limiting student selection based on their reading level and then asking a endless amount of questions to assess understanding. AMEN!!

I thought about Disruptive Thinking as I talked to my friend Casey LaPlante, the Granby Memorial High School librarian.  Casey is also a voracious reader, I highly recommend following her on GoodReads.  We talked about summer reading ideas to encourage teens to read.   I was determined to make sure any summer reading activity sponsored by the school library  was not going to be based on assessments or rubrics.  No reporting to English teachers during the first week of school.  No required books, minutes, pages.

Casey share with me her idea and gave me permission to use it at school and discuss it here.   Casey had posted in one of the professional Facebook Groups that she was looking for new ideas.   The summer reading activity I created was based on her research and her ideas.  

And so our Summer Reading Raffle was born.

For every book a student reads, they fill out a Google Form and it counts as an entry into a raffle for prizes such as a 2018 yearbook, homecoming dance tickets, season football passes, and school gear.  I have to note that our school athletic director, Jim Buonocore was so supportive of this idea when I approached him about prizes.  I am really excited that we are connecting reading, athletics, school spirit!  I consulted the district reading consultant who shared my enthusiasm for this idea and it was was given official district approval.  

I am not sure what to expect for participation as nothing like this has been done before, from what I understand there has not been an official "program" offered for high school students through the school district.  At the very least I thought something that would give students who do love to read, an opportunity to do something fun.  And maybe get even just one kid who would not otherwise think of picking up a book to try to read something this summer.   I even decided I would count partially read books.  I would rather a student attempt to read something and be comfortable abandoning it if they do not like it.  I want them to get credit for trying and for putting it down to start something they will enjoy  more.  

I created a LibGuide with all the details including direct access to the Google Form which I have also included below.  Scrolling past the Google Form, teachers shared with me their top 10 lists of books they would personally recommend because they LIKED the book, NOT because It was required reading.  State award nominees and links to the Connecticut Governor Challenge are there as well. 

Students can also find a tutorial to access ebooks and the @ColonelsLibrary Instagram #ebookslhs which features our ebook collection to inspire.  

I have been using social media to get the word out, Twitter, Instagram, PTO Facebook Groups and even emailing students inviting them to participate.  I encouraged students to check out books for the summer. 

We have been on summer vacation for 5 days and there have already been 15 entries.  I can't wait to see what happens the rest of the summer!   I am hoping that this idea inspires students to read and grows in to an annual event.  


  1. I love this idea. I am not sure we have time to set it up for this year as there are only 4 weeks left of our school year but you have inspired me to give it a go. Thanks!


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