Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Is the Summer Reading List Dead?

You know the drill! You get ready to leave school for the summer and your teacher gives you this long list of books to read over the summer. Or maybe you are like my daughter when she was in 5th and 6th grade and the school just gives you a title to complete?  

Or even so if you are getting to the higher grades the summer reading list be it one book or more has died and doesn’t exist.   I was really surprised when we went to grab my daughter’s report card and her summer reading book to find out that there wasn’t one. That has gone on since the summer after 7th grade. 

So why has the summer reading list or summer book gone away? I think for the most part of what I have seen that most kids just ignore that book or those books and enjoy their summer vacation. People travel during the summer and take their free time to do other things.  The other thing I have seen is that parents just ignore it as well. 

And still could it be the books that the school is giving them? I know that for the most part the books the school gave my oldest were always ones that she thought were pretty boring. They never gave her books that were modern or even interesting they gave her books that were published long before I was even born back in 82. I really wished that they would have just given her a full list of titles to choose from from all years vs. just one book. 

Now I fully understand that some kids don’t really want to read. Growing up I wasn’t a big reader either. I didn’t start reading until I was 19 and we ended up homeless for about 6 months or so.  That was the first time I really read anything until I went back to finish up high school about a year later. 

But what are ways that the summer reading list can come back alive and be stronger than ever? I think the first step would to get parents involved and maybe even the local library. Having parents involved in what their kids are reading is a wonderful first step in getting kids enjoying what they are reading.  

As for the library they could do a weekly event for those titles that are to be read or even do something online for those kids that are on vacation and can’t come to the library itself.  I know first hand that reading something with others and being able to discuss it makes reading way more enjoyable then keeping it all to yourself. 

But I also think that it’s what books they want the kids to read. I speak from personal experience with this one. I don’t know how many times I have had to tell my girls that they have to read something because the school required it.  

I totally agree with schools that do a list format for their summer reading.  They could have a square list of 3-5 books each in different sections such as fiction, non-fiction, classics, and free choice.  Then requiring them to choose 1 to 2 books from each section.  I think that having kids being able to pick their summer reading list from a list at least gives them a choice in the matter.    

I know a lot of these schools that give kids a list of required books all have tests and class work to do when they get back to school.  I think comes as a con for the simple fact that most kids will either get the reading done in the first week or so of summer or wait until the end of summer and speed through it.  Which in any case they won’t remember anything by the time that school starts.   

For this I think that doing one book a week during summer and then having kids complete work via the web would work out better that way they still get work done but they don’t have time to forget what they read.  Another option would be that they take time to do these titles during the school year. Which I guess if you think of school like a job and the summer like your day off that makes a lot of sense.  

So lets see some pros and cons about the summer reading list.  I found this online from a teacher and compiled it all together. 

  • It gets kids to read outside of their comfort zones
  • It gets us to think about issues and ideas we wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to otherwise
  • Some English teachers make really great choices
  • It’s easier for teachers to make lesson plans
  • It’s easier for teachers to get a baseline of how most kids in the classroom think and how they’re doing

  • Kids who don’t read often who hate their summer reading are less inclined to read on their own because they aren’t exposed to multiple books that they may enjoy
  • Books are often very similar or dull
  • Books are often overanalyzed to death to the point where most kids end up hating it
  • It can be difficult to get the reading done
  • Kids spend more time answering the questions or homework that goes along with the book rather than sinking into the experience of it.

In the end of this discussion I hope you enjoyed what I had to share.  I think each of the pros and cons have their valid points.  I also think that they should bring back a summer reading list. Even if its just the books that will be covered the following school year. Which now thinking about I should have added above.  Kids could get a start on the reading they would be doing the following year in class and be able to get ahead. I know if my daughter knew what titles she would have been reading for 9th grade she would have been reading them in advance. Especially since its all classics this year. 

So what do you think about the summer reading list? What do you think us as readers, parents, teachers, etc could do to save it? 

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