When each school year comes to an end, students must go online and select the book that they will read over the summer. The tough decision of choosing the right book, along with the teacher who will oversee the summer book discussion, is given considerable thought by the students. Students can look up the different books offered for summer reading online and read or watch what they are about to help them make their decision.
Over the years the summer reading program has become less formal. More than 10 years ago, summer reading was a more rigorous and serious assignment. Students were not able to choose any book on a list. Rather, students were assigned a specific type of book based on grade. For example, ninth graders would have to read a science book and then write an essay on it. Summer reading has evolved to be a more laid back program for students.
Now each student can self select the book they want to read. A student’s grade does not limit what can be selected. The only requirement is that the book must be read prior to the second week of school. There is also a limit to the number of students who can sign up for each book.
During this second week, there is a specific period identified for book discussions. Students go to their assigned classroom for the book they chose to engage in a half-hour discussion about the book. Each teacher implements their summer reading period in different ways. Some teachers lead an interactive discussion, others have students write about the book, and even some offer fun desserts during this period. It is a common problem that students do not read their assigned book and this leads to limited involvement in the classroom discussion. “My teacher asked us who read their book and only half of the students responded,” senior Ava Zhang said.
There are different reasons why both the teachers and students choose their specific titles. Senior Hannah Mikowski chose the book The Hate U Give because she saw it as an important book to understand the current environment. She selected this book because she had seen the movie and thought this would help her understand the book as she read it.
Science teacher Sanford Herzon chose his book because as he started evaluating it as a possible title, he connected to its topic instantly. He chose the book Outliers because it referenced two of his favorite topics, the Beatles and hockey, in the first two chapters and he loved it.
Another teacher chose her book because she heard about it the media. Ceramics and fashion teacher Malinda Pierce picked her book Where the Crawdads Sing because she was watching the Sunday news and got intrigued by the story. “They started talking about how the book captured the life of a girl who was in nature and I knew I had to read it,” Pierce said.
Although there is concern about the actual number of students truly reading their summer book, there are benefits. Some students do enjoy having a book to read over the summer. “I thought it was fun and nice to be able to talk about a book in a group of people,” senior Taylor Brown said.