Summer of Reading Collection


Get summer started on the right page with PBS LearningMedia's Summer of Reading collection! These videos, activities, and interactive games help to build vocabulary and reading comprehension while bringing storybook characters to life.

NEW: Top 10 Summer Reads for Grades 3-5 | What would summer be without the fantasy, mystery, and adventure of a great book? Kick off your Summer of Reading with one of these summer reads selected by PBS LearningMedia staff!

  • The Wild Old Wicked Man, by William Butler Yeats

    This video segment from Poetry Everywhere features jazz musician Wynton Marsalis reading the poem "The Wild Old Wicked Man" written by his favorite poet William Butler Yeats. Yeats was the most respected of all Irish poets by the time he reached old age. Throughout his career he avoided the “low” subject matter of many other Irish poets, focusing on classical allusions and themes. But in his old age, he found a voice for the lowly thoughts and emotions inside himself—the Wild Old Wicked Man.

    For a biography of the poet William Butler Yeats please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Stone, by Charles Simic

    This video segment from Poetry Everywhere features the poet Charles Simic reading his poem "Stone." "There's a cult of experience in American poetry,” Charles Simic writes; “Our poets, when one comes right down to it, are always saying: This is what happened to me. This is what I saw and felt. Truth, they never get tired of reiterating, is not something that already exists in the world, but something that needs to be rediscovered almost daily."

    For a biography of the poet Charles Simic please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Calling him back from layoff, by Bob Hicok

    This video segment from Poetry Everywhere features the poet Bob Hicok reading his poem “Calling him back from layoff” at the Dodge Poetry Festival. Hicok has said, “What I’m most consistently doing is trying to understand why something is on my mind. . . . Maybe writing is nothing more than an inquiry into presences.” In this poem about a laid-off worker being re-hired, we see the economic headlines of our present moment on the mind of a poet.

    For a biography of the poet Bob Hicok please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.

    Grades: 7-12
  • won't you celebrate with me, by Lucille Clifton

    In this video segment from Poetry Everywhere, two-time Pulitzer Prize nominated poet Lucille Clifton reads her poem “won’t you celebrate with me.” Drawing from Whitman, the Bible, and the tradition of the sonnet, the poem invites readers to explore themes of identity, race, and gender.

    Read "won't you celebrate with me" at the Poetry Foundation.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Turtle, by Kay Ryan

    This video segment from Poetry Everywhere features the poet Kay Ryan reading her poem “Turtle” at the Dodge Poetry Festival. Ryan has said that she develops her poems “the way an oyster does, with an aggravation”—is “Turtle” an example of that? Is the narrator’s description of the plodding animal an appreciation of its patience, or just an exasperated list of the turtle’s shortcomings?

    For a biography of the poet Kay Ryan please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.

    Grades: 7-12
  • The Lanyard, by Billy Collins

    This video segment from Poetry Everywhere features the poet Billy Collins reading his poem "The Lanyard" at the Dodge Poetry Festival. The poem describes a memory of making a childhood gift at camp for his mother. Using humor and irony, the poem illustrates how ordinary objects can connect to powerful memories.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Daddy Long Legs, by Ted Kooser

    This video segment from Poetry Everywhere features Iowa-born poet Ted Kooser reading his poem "Daddy Long Legs" at the Dodge Poetry Festival. Ted Kooser has said, “I write for other people with the hope that I can help them to see the wonderful things within their everyday experiences. In short, I want to show people how interesting the ordinary world can be if you pay attention.” In this poem, a spider in the basement provides a window into the soul. A poet and an essayist, Ted Kooser spent 35 years in the insurance business, before devoting himself to writing.

    For a biography of the poet Ted Kooser, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.

    Grades: 7-12
  • I started Early—Took my Dog, by Emily Dickinson

    This video segment from Poetry Everywhere uses animation to illustrate Emily Dickinson's poem "I started Early—Took my Dog." In writing about the changing nature of the sea, Dickinson's poem explores themes of adventure, escape, and the depths of the self.

    Read "I started Early—Took my Dog" at the Poetry Foundation.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Dust, by Dorianne Laux

    This video segment from Poetry Everywhere features the poet Dorianne Laux reads her poem “Dust” at the Dodge Poetry Festival. "Poems keep us conscious of the importance of our individual lives,” says Laux. “Dust” examines a fleeting moment of connection that is swept aside and mostly lost in the busy activity of an average day.

    For a biography of the poet Dorianne Laux, please visit the Poetry Foundation Web site.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Scene from Hamlet | Arts in the Renaissance

    Actor Kevin Hardesty performs the famous “To be, or not to be” soliloquy from Act III, Scene I of the Shakespeare's tragedy Hamlet. Hardesty opens the segment with a brief introduction to the scene: Hamlet’s father, the King of Denmark, has mysteriously died, and his brother Claudius has assumed the throne and married the King’s wife (Hamlet’s mother). Hamlet meets the Ghost of the dead king, who accuses Claudius of murder. Hamlet must decide the truth of the accusation and what course of action to take.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Supernatural Elements in Shakespeare

    In this media collection, students explore the use of supernatural elements within William Shakespeare’s plays, focusing particularly on Macbeth, Hamlet, and The Tempest. Students examine supernatural beliefs during the 16th and 17th centuries, and they also identify how supernatural elements drive the plot of many of Shakespeare’s plays.

    Grades: 8-12
  • The Use of Soliloquy

    In this series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered, students explore the use of soliloquy as a device to reveal character and advance plot. They consider how using soliloquy perhaps more truthfully exposes character than other devices like dialogue. In addition, students focus particularly on the famous soliloquy in Hamlet, "To be or not to be," and discuss how and why the topics of his speech are best explored through soliloquy.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Women, Identity and Disguise in Shakespeare’s Comedies

    In this media gallery, you will find a series of videos from Shakespeare Uncovered that offer insight into how Shakespeare represented women in Twelfth Night and As You Like It, and how he played with identity and disguise for comedic effect. As you view the videos and complete the activities, think about the role of women in the plays and consider how they are both empowered and restricted.

    Grades: 8-12
  • Personification: Cowbirds

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students learn about the cowbird through a documentary video and explore how the video uses personification to present information about this bird. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore an English language arts focus on personification as a literary device. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Character Conflict: Language Immersion

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos that tell the story of Moises, a fictional Spanish-speaking young immigrant who faces conflicts in his English-immersion school in the United States. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore an English language arts focus on internal and external conflict as a plot device. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Character Change: The Diary of Anne Frank

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students examine what Anne Frank’s writing and a video dramatization of her diary reveal about her character and how it changed while she was in hiding. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore an English language arts focus on character change. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below to find out more.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Symbolism: Keely's Mountain

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students are introduced to Keely, who feels that her identity as a Nipmuc Native American is weakened because there is no strong Nipmuc community around her. The video Keely made when she was young and felt discouraged is countered by her positive thoughts about identity when she is older. Students develop their literacy skills through an English language arts focus on symbolism. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Population Sampling: Fish

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch videos and complete interactive activities to learn how the Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota measure the abundance of various fish in their lake, how they interpret the data they collect, and how they make predictions about future populations based on their findings. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a mathematics focus on population sampling. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • Baseball and Social Change: The Story of Roberto Clemente

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students learn about baseball legend Roberto Clemente, his early years in the United States during segregation, and changes in the 1960s that made the U.S. culture more open to Clemente’s Latino culture. Students develop their literacy skills through a social studies focus on how culture shapes individual identity and how a culture changes when new groups of people enter it. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8
  • American Stories: Teens and Immigration

    In this blended lesson supporting literacy skills, students watch documentary video about four teens who immigrated to the United States. Students develop their literacy skills as they explore a social studies focus on the factors that drive immigration and the challenges immigrants face in the United States, particularly in learning English. During this process, they read informational text, learn and practice vocabulary words, and explore content through videos and interactive activities. This resource is part of the Inspiring Middle School Literacy Collection.

    Students need to be signed in to complete this lesson. Go to "About This Activity" in "Support Materials" below or click here.

    Grades: 5-8

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