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Summer Rerun-- The Tale of Two Tables


Reading Kate Messner's passionate post In Defense of Summer Reading Freedom reminds me of my similar post last summer, The Tale of Two Tables. What are your thoughts on required summer reading?


My thoughts are pretty much two thumbs down to required summer reading. I quite liked Kate's post, and I remember liking yours a lot last summer, too.

My daughter just received the list of acceptable books for (9th grade) required reading, and they have such depressing themes that really aren't too appealing to her. Why don't the individuals who create these lists try to offer more upbeat selections? It is summer after all!

I feel that the summertime is the best time for students to read what appeals to them the most, as long as their selections and content are age appropriate. While parents still need to keep track of what their children are reading, they should allow them to make their own choices as often as possible.

I really enjoyed the two posts you referred to. You're absolutely right that children learn things over the summer, including how to enjoy reading, that they will not necessarily learn during the school year. Children and teenagers need time to daydream, to get lost in books and music, to see the world, and to just take time out to think about life. Summer is the one season when they're more likely to have time for such activities.

Thank you for sharing these insightful posts!

My daughter, who is an avid rader, also recieved a list, and they are also quite depressing (if good) books. Now she won't read anything else because she has to read two of those books, but she's putting off reading them because she doesn't want to read them. Translation, she's not reading at all! :(

As I reflect back to my middle school and high school years, we were not required to read certain books over the summer...for that I am thankful! I certainly wasn't a reader, but perhaps what Donalyn would consider a dormant reader. My books were Judy Blume and the Sweet Valley High series. I am sure those books would have NEVER made the required list! I too am thankful that our school does not have summer required reading. I do believe, however, that it is our responsibility as educators to continue to suggest, suggest, and suggest books to our students. I love the book suggestions that Donalyn shares with us. I am also a fan of Esme and Kidsreads.com/Teenreads.com. About a year ago I had the privilege of hearing Kelly Gallager present in our area and he shared the idea of readers "getting into the flow". I can't imagine being required to read a novel over the summer that didn't allow me to get into the flow! With the being the case, I say Boo! Hiss! to required reading. If we as educators keep suggesting, suggesting, suggesting, one of these days the reader will turn from dormant to avid.

Thanks for the link, Donalyn -- and for the note about your "Tale of Two Tables" post last year. I wasn't following your blog then so was happy to find it.

Our school system gives our 6th graders a suggested list of recommended books, but they can read anything they choose - they just have to read one book this summer. The thing for me though, is how to do more to make sure my students keep up with their reading over the summer. I spent a few days talking with them about making time for summer reading (like taking a book to the beach, etc), and one of my students said, "Hey, we spend the summer DOING things, not just sitting around reading." I know my good readers will ocntinue to bug their parents about going to the library, but there will also be many who will only read the one required book.

I can remember getting a summer reading list in middle and high school and groaning. My mother would immediately request the books at the library so they were ready as soon as school was out. I couldn't have been less interested in the titles, and having my mother breathing down my throat asking if I'd read my "school" books didn't quite help in the motivation department.
Although we do not require summer reading, I gave my students a personalized list of titles that I thought they'd enjoy, and was careful not to include books that were too heavy or required guided reading. For some students I recommended a series of magazines, knowing that pulling out an actual book would be a far cry from reality. The main point was to get them reading--it didn't have to be quality literature with memorable characters and a complicated plot. ANYTHING was better than nothing. Confession: You won't find me reading anything heavy or discussion-worthy over the summer either (although I could talk about Edward Cullen for hours)and sometimes I'm so embarrassed about my current title (read: trashy romance novel) that I place sticky notes over the cover :)
I can't expect the same from my students. A reader is a reader, no matter the title.

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Recent Comments

  • Rawley: I can remember getting a summer reading list in middle read more
  • Connie Giovanini: Our school system gives our 6th graders a suggested list read more
  • Kate Messner: Thanks for the link, Donalyn -- and for the note read more
  • Amy Waarntz: As I reflect back to my middle school and high read more
  • Sabrina McClure: My daughter, who is an avid rader, also recieved a read more



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