Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thoughts on 'Summer Reading'

The back-to-school season is ramping up.

There may only be about three weeks remaining before it's back to the classroom.

So I've been thinking a bit more than usual about "Summer Reading." Not in the sense of the fun beach reads I blogged about earlier this summer, but in the assigned-list-from-school sense.

There's some debate about the value.

Some people (that I am related to) say students shouldn't have summer reading. That they should enjoy the break from classwork and "be kids." That school is too year-round.

I say hogwash. (Actually I don't say that, but I am thinking it.)

I am a fan of summer reading assignments. And, for the record, building dioramas and creating tri-fold boards and conducting science experiments.

There are studies that talk about the "summer slide." That point to greater summer learning losses among low-income students. And that this summer learning loss contributes to the gap between in reading performance between low- and middle-income students.

Reason enough to have students reading over the summer, I say.

Added bonus: Actual education can begin on the first day of classes because students (ideally) come prepared to discuss a work.

Back in my day (no age jokes, Jason, please), Sister Angele would lay that stack of books on you on the last day of class in June and expect them all to be read in August. I don't recall the exact number, but I'd guess it was about five or so.

Some books we never discussed in class, some we discussed extensively, one we wrote an essay on on the first day of school.

Good times. And, I'm not being sarcastic.

I will admit I'm a little jealous that my kids have some choice in their reading assignments for the summer and that some of the books they have to choose among were written after 2000. Do you need someone to tell you you have to read "The Kite Runner" or "The Lovely Bones"? I don't think so.

And I'm a little baffled that reading is reduced for some to drudgery, a "have to" homework assignment. When to me is so, well, not that.

What do you think?

- Tricia Ambrose


Anonymous Jason said...

Is there anyone older than 18 who doesn't think kids should have summer reading lists? I think kids should have year-round school. And jobs. And their grandma should hit them with a wooden spoon when they backtalk.

That's what they get for backtalking gram-gram.

July 30, 2010 at 6:21 PM 

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