Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Summer Reading Assignments

I just found Rick Riordan's post about his son's summer reading requirement thanks to Jen Robinson. Rick really focused on the Newbery issue. But, I really took it to be a summer reading requirement issue. I had no idea that some schools were requiring summer reading for kids below the high school level.

Assigning summer reading to students in high school has become quite popular. My high school daughter has had summers when certain books were required or when she could choose from a list of summer reading books. This summer, the school decided not to require summer reading. Guess what?? She read about 10 books OF HER CHOICE...FOR PLEASURE!! What more could we want! She actually read a good variety. She read some good fiction, some beach/trash type novels and some nonfiction. She found a few new authors she loved and read new books from a series that she has always loved. She lived her summer as a reader and in the process grew and changed as a reader. Last summer when she had required reading for high school English, she spent the summer trudging through the 2 required books and hating every minute of it.

I am a teacher and of course I want children to read over the summer. I want them to read all summer. I would be happy if we all sat and read for 10 hours a day, every day, all summer. I think summer reading lists are an attempt to encourage summer reading and I think that there is the hope that kids will come back together in the fall excited to talk about the books. But a summer reading list can take away a child's real reasons to read. It takes away the fun of finding new authors, deciding what to read next, getting excited about a new book in a series, sharing new discoveries, etc. I have never been a huge fan of Summer Required Reading lists. But, now with this first hand experience of watching my daughter this summer, I know that this was a great summer for her as a reader. I am now 100 percent sure that I would rather my child spend the summer being a reader than reading required books on a school list. I want her to read for more than a course requirement.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting a real-world example of what can happen without required summer reading. If I stretch my brain to think back to my own youth, it seems like if I did have any required reading, it was mostly a distraction that kept me from reading the books that I wanted to read. It seems more like schools should have a list titled something like "Really, really great books that other kids have recommended", and make the list optional. Thanks for a great post!

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