Module 4: Summer Engagement

Welcome to Module 4! In this section, we want to provide you with an understanding of the research-based principles behind the READS summer engagement tools. 

1: Watch a tutorial about summer reading engagement

READS uses a variety of tools to help foster students' engagement with books over the summer, including: 

  • Tri-folds

  • Tips for families

  • Summer phone calls

  • Summer text messages

  • Books match to students' interests and reading levels

  • Books from in-class READS lessons as students' first read-at-home selections


We've had a lot of success with these tools over the years, and we've seen teachers make adaptations to improve the tools for their students!

Access the tutorial HERE

2: Read an article about using "tips" to engage families

The New York Times published an article about sending "tips" to families over the summer via text messages. The results of this strategy were promising! Read about it here: 

To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents with Tips

3: Check out the tips that READS sent to families over the past few summers

Access the tip template HERE.

4: Learn about making summer phone calls to families

5: Reflection

Since 2010, READS has incorporated summer phone calls home. 

During the 2010 implementation of the READS program, some teachers called students as part of the research design. Both teachers and students reported positive experiences from the phone calls, and students who received the phone calls experience greater reading gains than students who did not receive the phone calls.  However, as the project went up in scale (the number of students and schools participating), this type of intervention was not sustainable. 

Phone calls were made to parents. Over time, the goal of the phone calls switched from engaging students around their summer book experiences to checking in with parents about: 

  • receipt of the READS books

  • completion of the tri-folds

As you saw in the tutorial, there was a bump in the number of summer tri-fold returns after families received phone calls.  

We also learned that some school team members found it helpful to use scripted questions when calling families. 

Sample of phone call scripts

To check on book delivery: 

I wanted to check in with you to see how things are going.  READS books were mailed on [week of June 20th or week of July 11]. Did you receive the books? 

If yes: 

Great!I hope that your child enjoys the books.  Please encourage them to return the tri-folds. We are awarding prizes to students who return X tri-folds.  

If no:  

Can you please confirm your address for me?  [Write down the correct address; update address in the READS Student Management System.]

To encourage tri-fold returns

Have you seen the insert that comes in each book?

To measure satisfaction with the program

  • Does your child enjoy receiving the READS books?

  • Have you noticed your child that your child this summer is reading more, less, or about the same?


A complete list of scripted questions can be found HERE [PDF] or HERE [Word document].

1. Consider the summer engagement activities included in this module.


  • What activities are your school team most interested in adopting?

  • Why?


2. Think about your students and their lives over the summer.


  • Who do you predict might be most eager to participate in READS?

  • Least eager?

    • For those students who you predict will be least eager to participate, what do you think might motivate them to read? How can you use that information to develop strategies to increase their summer engagement?


Remember, not every student needs to receive the same exact set of supports.

6. Quiz

Check your understanding by taking a READS Summer Engagement mini-quiz. Access the quiz HERE.  

Congratulations, you have finished all of the modules!

Copyright © 2019 The President and Fellows of Harvard College

READS Lab, Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA  02138

  • White Instagram Icon