Summer Reading A Bore

By: Samantha Sanburn

Summer reading is an outdated method of teachers trying to force students to keep their minds sharp over the 2 months of summer break. When teachers assign summer reading, the goal is to read, comprehend, annotate and sometimes write an essay on the assigned book. But the question we ask is, “Why choose a book that  students cannot relate to?”

The administration and English elite that choose the summer reading list take into consideration the classics, of course. However, the classics are just that — classic.

They have no merit to the minds of modern teenagers. Many teens cannot relate to E.B. White’s view in his chapter, “Death of a Pig.” For people to want to read a book and be interested in it, they have to be able to relate the plot or the moral of the story to their own life. Most of the essays written by E.B. White were written in the 1950’s or 1960’s, 40+ years behind our times now. Much has changed in the 40 years since these essays were written. Our society is a completely different world now and teachers need to assign relevant, current and modern novels that reflect that.

While on break, students want to relax and get away from school. They don’t want to have to focus on assignments and school related “homework” while we are trying to have fun during the summer. Teens also have a short attention span during the summer. Often they are running on a spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants mentality. Often, many students wait until the week before school starts to read their summer reading assignment, and yet they do not fully engage — they often just turn to book forums.

If teachers desire to continue having the Advanced English classes follow a strenuous summer reading program, then they should consider that students need interesting books. However, as of now — summer reading is a no-go.

5 Comments on "Summer Reading A Bore"

  1. Peter Stensgaard | September 24, 2010 at 7:48 pm |

    Personally, I like reading and you have a right to your opinion but next time try not to make is so one sided

  2. Brianna Hardee | November 5, 2010 at 11:34 pm |

    Honestly, I’ve liked every book I’ve been assigned. Maybe not necessarily at the time, but I do now. I’m glad I was made to read ‘classics’, it sure helps in college when you have background knowledge. And even if a book was set 40, 50 years ago, it’s still relevant. Look at 1984; that was written years ago, set in a time that was years ago, but its ever so prevelant now.

    Good arguement though, summer is a time for fun. Maybe explore the other side of the argument? ( I only bring it up because opinion articles were my thing when I was on the staff).

  3. Kaitlyn Harris | December 28, 2010 at 4:40 am |

    I agree. I have never liked the books I read, yes they were classics, but do I remember them? No. Although it does have an effort for teachers to prep for college. You cant ignore reading just because school is out, you have to keep yourself preped.
    Good article. :]

  4. Adalyn Burke | January 5, 2011 at 11:58 pm |

    Most of the kids who get assigned summer reading are the ones who take Advanced courses. The whole point of a summer reading assignment is to keep kids in a critical thinking state. Sure, it’d be really sweet if we could read more contemporary works…but we can do this on our own time.

    I disagree with the notion that ‘classic’ or not-so-contemporary novels have zero merit for today’s teenagers. As a voracious reader myself, I think turning to novels, novellas, and plays from different time periods can be extremely influential on our lives now. I mean, what about Salinger’s Holden Caulfield? Catcher in the Rye was published more than 50 years ago and so many teenagers (the ones who’ve read it, at least) see parts of themselves in the story.

    With that said, I haven’t enjoyed everything I’ve had to read for my English classes. Most of them, yes. I consider myself a bit of an exception, though, seeing as how I’m a future English major…but I digress.

    I love reading. So I had to throw my two cents in. I can see why most kids would be unhappy about summer reading…but we get 2+ months to get through a single work. I’m thinking that can’t be too ‘strenuous’ if the kiddies don’t procrastinate. 😉

    A. Burke

  5. Classics are classics because they are timeless.

    One does not have to relate to the characters in a book to enjoy it.

    Reading takes us places we would not otherwise be able to go.

    While summer reading may seem boring and unimportant to your current modern day lifestyle, it not only broadens your horizons to reading you would obviously never choose on your own, but it also teaches you the beginnings of learning to do things you don’t want to do – otherwise known as life.

    Try and make the most of it – one day you will look back and realize you have read some books that others read 40 or 50 years ago and will still be reading in 40-50 years and you can share that commonality with future generations.

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