Your back in high school and the clock ticks as the school year ends and Summer begins! Until…your teacher places a list of five books with a bold, capitalized title on top REQUIRED SUMMER READING!
It’s a topic discussed every Summer between students, teachers, and parent Facebook forums but all for different reasons. The students hate it, the teachers force it, and the parents complain because their child is complaining.
Summer reading lists always have some controversy around them with what books are chosen or the work that has to be done alongside it. As with any required school assignment there are pros and cons to the idea of having a reading list.
The benefits of reading are at the top of the list as to why schools should have summer reading. As students read more they are being exposed to vocabulary and the increased ability to analyze the book. Reading also increases brain power which is important throughout the long break from school.
With all the benefits in reading, a required reading list is actually driving students away from books. This is actually one of the reasons being a teacher is something I thought I wanted to do. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable, and I strongly believe having a required reading list discourages students to read. This pushes the idea that reading belongs to school and not enjoyment.
Although some believe making it required with assignments and tests will increase the numbers in those who do it, it still won’t make students read. I believe this stems from the choices students have to choose from.
I understand the frustration from teachers when students come back from break, and they may or may not have fallen behind in achievements. However, based on a test done in Rochester, NY in which one class got to choose their books while the other had books sent to them, the class that chose showed more improvement than the class that had books sent.
Things brings us to the question of what can teachers do?
Katie Sluiter, an 8th grade English teacher in Michigan, has a few options. Give them a choice, access, or get rid of required reading as a whole. If students are able to have a choice in what they read they’ll be more invested in the book thus encouraging more reading. Giving them access by having a book fair, audiobooks, or allowing books to be rented through a library will give students a variety in obtaining something to read. Or the last choice, and I’m sure students first pick, give them a break and remove summer reading as a whole.
Now, I’m not a teacher so I’m not sure how the curriculum works. But I am a reader, and I was a student so I feel I have an idea what all sides see. But reading shouldn’t feel like a chore and in many ways more than one, summer reading makes it like that. Students should have a choice in which book they read as it encourages reading for enjoyment. What do you think?
Link to The Washington Post article about the study: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/05/27/why-we-should-let-kids-choose-their-own-summer-reading-books/
Link to Katie Sluiter’s article on Summer Reading: https://theeducatorsroom.com/ditch-the-summer-reading-requirements/