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Time to Get Ready for Summer Reading!

June 7, 2023 | Emily Ford Sytsma

​​Students entering Kindergarten through 8th Grade participate in summer reading at Mustard Seed School.  Some grades have required books and others have lists of suggestions.  Each student is challenged to read or listen to a number of books over the summer. 

You can find the summer reading lists here on the website.  This link is available in the “Parents” tab at the top of the Mustard Seed School website so that you can access it all summer long. 

Families with students rising into Grades 4-8 should read this overview note before jumping into picking your books. These classes each have one required book that all students read (and then choice for the other books).  It is best to save this book for last so that the students have read it just before school starts.  They will talk work with this text in their first English language arts classes in September.

Many local libraries have these titles available! And many libraries have summer reading incentive programs if your child would like the support of a local community of readers to encourage their continued work this summer.  (Here are Hoboken and Jersey City programs.) Happy summer reading!

Also, many families will trade books or share books to reduce costs, so please reach out to classmates’ families if you would like to make a plan to share them.

Why summer reading? 

There are many reasons that schools encourage students to engage their literacy skills over the summer.  “Summer slide” is a primary reason.  Summer slide is the tendency for students to lose some of the achievement of the previous year over the summer months.  If you think of reading as a muscle, you can imagine what happens if it isn’t used actively and regularly for two months.  Summer reading helps prevent that atrophy.

You will notice that Mustard Seed School summer reading lists include a lot of choice, as well as different genres and topics.  We know students are more likely to use their literacy skills effectively if they are motivated by enjoyment.  So, another goal of summer reading is fun.

One last hope of our summer reading is to prepare for the upcoming year.  You will also notice that some grade level lists include books that cover the topics students will study in science and social studies.  These books will give background knowledge and will build interest in the content of the next year.  For older students, a book is chosen for all students to read so that students are reading even in the first days of school to engage in literature discussions and writing.  This helps kick off the year with meaningful learning activities.

We hope that your family will enjoy summer reading.  Please do reach out to teachers if you have any questions or if your child is not finding options that they are excited about.

Emily Ford Sytsma

Early Childhood Director

Ms. Sytsma began her career as an educator working in inclusive classrooms in the state of Hawaii but found her roots began to grow here at Mustard Seed School when she came to teach in 1996. She joined the preschool team in 2007, after teaching for many years in the Middle School. She finds delight in the preschool’s approach to teaching and learning, inspired by the preschools in Reggio Emilia, Italy. As Early Childhood Director, she seeks to support teachers in their work helping children learn about thinking and creative expression.

Ms. Sytsma’s the mother of a MSS alum and a current student. When not at school, Ms. Sytsma enjoys traveling with her husband and two children. She tends a very simple rooftop garden in Jersey City Heights and on long Saturday mornings, she may be seen taking long walks along the Hudson River and listening to audiobooks or podcasts while organizing her thoughts and getting her heart rate up.

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