Aug 21, 2014

Thoughts on Thursday #3: Summer Reading

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When I say summer reading I don't mean just reading in the summer. No, I'm talking about the terrifying assigned summer reading that schools give students at the end of the year. That dreaded list that tells us that while we might not be going into a building labeled "school" every weekday morning, school stills controls our lives.

Now everyone has a different approach to that list we'd all like to burn. Some take it, sit down, and don't get up until they've finished it. Then there are the majority of people who wait until 2 weeks before school starts to even start their book and they finish it the night before the first day of school. 

Guess who I am?

I literally HATE these lists and since I am taking AP English Language and Composition in the fall (aka in 11 days) that means that I have not 1, not 2, but 3 books that I have to read. I decided this summer that I was going to read these dreaded book in July and be carefree in August because I totally forgot that I am THE BIGGEST PROCRASTINATOR TO EVER LIVE.

Example time!

Instead of waiting the night before to start a HUGE project due the next day, I wait until 5 in the morning THE DAY OF to start the project which usually leads to me doing that project in the middle of all my different classes. This usually results in me not paying attention in class and not knowing what to do on the homework (yeah, I'm doing that in class the day of too) Yeah, I'm that kid....

Now I hate these lists for a lot of reasons but the biggest reason would have to be the fact that they take away a lot of time from my regular reading schedule. Last summer I only had to read one summer reading book and I read 70+ books, this year I have to read 3 and I'm lucky if I even read more than 30. I'm not a fan of classics or nonfiction reads and that was the whole list from which I had to choose 3 books from, so naturally I started the whole procrastination process. 

These are the three books I picked to read this summer:
Jane Eyre     The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art    
I started Faith of a Writer in the beginning of July and I finished it in mid-August...that was bad. Now I am reading Jane Eyre which is 500+ pages and I still have to read the book on Fredrick Douglas. Add this to the AP Psychology Experiment that I have to write a report on and it creates a very stressful time for me.  

I know that some school's have reading lists that can have some really interesting reads on them. I remember a few years back looking at a school's reading list that had the Twilight Saga on it and they had new YA releases all the time. These school's have one goal in mind--get kids to read. They don't care what the kids read as long as at one point in the summer they had a book in their hand. My school's objective is to have the kids read a book from the genre they will be studying in English class that year. 

I really hate that process. Every time I picked up a book of my choice this summer I felt guilty because I knew a should have been reading a book from the list and ended up not reading anything. Right now I am going through the same thing. I know I should be reading Jane Eyre but I really want to read If I Stay or Silver Shadows but I don't read anything. I force myself to read Jane Eyre right before going to bed so I get some reading done.

I really think that more schools should focus on getting kids to read what they want which means adding more current popular reads or not forcing kids to read at all. One school in my district has gotten rid of summer reading entirely because they saw kids who were starting English with a failing grade because they hated the reading list and didn't do the assigned reading. 

Do I think this is the answer?

No, I think it would be more beneficial to just have kids read what they want in the summer and have them turn in a short summary of the books they read in the summer rather than assigning anything.

What do you think of assigned summer reading? 
What should I talk about next Thursday?


  1. I only had to do assigned summer reading once, before my senior year when I signed up for AP English, and I had to read Frankenstein, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Crime and Punishment. I didn't read much for pleasure in high school because of having to read for school, so I didn't mind too much, especially when I actually ended up loving two out of the three books (Dorian Gray and C&P), and they were books I would not have ever picked up on my own. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray could have pretty easily been read over the school year, and I can see how three books, especially with one as long as C&P could be a lot for someone who had more summer work or a lot of other stuff going on. So it would probably be best if there were less books or if the books could be chosen by the student.

    1. I totally agree! I definitely enjoy some of these books but I think we, as students, would enjoy them more if we just had to read the. My school makes me annotate the books so that leads to analyzing which can take away a lot of the fun from a book.

  2. My school didn't do summer reading lists. I'm out of school now but I saw a table for the reading lists of the best high school in my area at Barnes & Noble and it had The Fault in Our Stars. I was curious so I came home and looked at the school's website to see what else was on the list and it had a good selection of YA, though not new releases, and (I wish I were kidding) a Tori Spelling biography on it. There were more academic choices as well, but I wonder if any of them were read by anyone.