The ideal reason for summer reading is blatantly obvious.
“Ostensibly the purpose of summer eeading is to enrich the very lives of our students. It allows us to start the year with a body of work to discuss and to begin practicing the skills that will [be] used in English, such as an analysis and composition,” AP English teacher Heather Sargent said.
The human tendency is to take the given break immediately and deal with reading later on.
“In the real world, I think many students don’t complete the reading and take shortcuts to appear to have completed the reading. Consequently, we end up with a diluted, or a less of, a learning experience,” Sargent said.
In all fairness, new students may not have many expectations involving the project at hand.
“Well, certain students who register before a certain date are required to do a summer reading project. However, I’ve always made it a policy to provide a short story when they join my class that has similar stylistic techniques and [is] by the same author of the novel. This allows students to complete a somewhat shorter assignment in a very short amount of time,” Sargent said.
The fact is that the novels never change, which can contribute to the pressure of doing as well as the generations before.
“We always just agree to read the same literature as the year before because the beginning of the year is always hectic. We know we’ve selected quality literature, so that’s okay. We just don’t have the time or the motivation to put together a new assignment,” Sargent said.
Students will think to themselves about how they can always try and find a way to recreate past projects, which will turn out to be another big disappointment.
“I always change the summer reading every year. We ask the students [to] find different devices than the years before. So it’s impossible to cheat, unless there is an immense degree of effort,” Sargent said.
Considering all of these time-consuming factors, is there really a reason to fight summer reading? Ending it altogether would be a nice thought, but is unlikely. There are alternatives to make this burden more bearable.
“Well, for me, I think that [students] should start of reading a non-fiction book. Something that is high-interest and very contemporary and controversial. You know, like a source fiction that is about the obesity epidemic, or about torture, or about clean farming, or something. Something that is just really contemporary and controversial,” Sargent said.
In the end, it comes down to the work of teachers versus the work of students.
“It’s more work for the teachers, though. You know, we aren’t much different from kids. We want to get done with our work too,” Sargent said.