Here is one of the Rafael stories that I use to encourage summer reading. Remember, "Rafael" is any student, a combination of students, a future student etc. You can use any name you want and change the story any way you want. If you teach 3rd grade, the students are in third grade etc.
Stories work to change behavior. Telling a story is way more effective than saying, "I want you to read this summer."
It was the last day of 5th grade. Sophia and Rafael were so excited to be starting summer vacation. "I'm going to the park to play soccer every day," said Rafael.
"I'm going to play with my friends at the park too!" said Sophia.
"No homework." said Rafael.
So school got out and summer started. They went to the park. They played soccer and basketball. The played on the swings. They helped their mom with making dinner most days. They watched their younger brothers while their moms did the shopping and laundry or went to work. Honestly, they started to get a bit bored.
One day, they were swinging at the park, and Rafael said, "Do you remember what Ms. L told us about the 2 million dollars?"
"Two million dollars? I would like 2 million. I'd be rich! But, no, I don't remember."
"Well, she told us that people who go to college earn 2 million more dollars that people who don't."
"Yah! I'm going to get those 2 million and go to college."
Sophia stopped swinging for a few minutes and looked out at the park. She remembered the conversation about the 2 million dollars. She had said that it's great to say that you want to go to college, but you have to have a plan if you really want it to happen. And the one thing that kids who go to college do is read 30 minutes every single day, including Sundays and summer vacations.
"You know, Rafael, I totally want those 2 million. I could help my mom buy a house and live in a nicer place with more rooms."
"Yah, and I could help my dad buy a new car."
"You know, I really haven't been doing what Ms. L said we had to do to earn that money. I totally haven't been reading anything."
Rafael got off of the swings and started to kick the bark chips under the swing. He was thinking hard about reading. He had just barely passed the reading test this year. He knew that meant that he was actually not ready for 6th grade. Passing the reading test by 1 point meant that he was reading like a 5th grader should read in December. And not reading over the summer meant that he would loose two whole months. He would start 6th grade reading like a 5th grader in December, November, no October.
"We really need to come up with a plan," said Rafael. "How about a bet or something like that."
"Sure," said Sophia.
Just then the ice cream truck pulled up next to the playground. "You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream," said Sophia running to the truck. I'm totally buying something.
"Ah, I didn't bring any money to the park," said Rafael.
"Well, I did," said Sophia. "I'm getting a Popsicle."
"I know," said Rafael, "Let's make a deal. Every time I read and finish a book, you buy me something from the ice cream truck. And every time you finish a book and tell me all about it, I'll buy you an ice cream."
"Ok, but you really have to tell me what the book was about so I trust you."
Rafael won the first ice cream. He read a Magic Tree House book and told Sophia all about the book. Over the rest of that summer, they read and bought each other ice cream.
So I want to tell you about where Rafael and Sophia are today. They are now both Doctors. Every summer and every year they made bets with each other about helped each other with school. Not only did they go to college together, they both went to medical school. They now earn a half a million dollars every single year. Sophia has bought her mom a nice house, like she said she would. Rafael bought his dad a car, and then later went on to buy his dad a house. Both Sophia and Rafael continue to be friends to this day.
Online classes I offer for teachers through HOL.edu:
RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life