I personally think summer reading is a good idea (admittedly, I'm not a parent who is fighting with a kid the day before school starts to finish said reading). It keeps kids in the mindset of learning and critical thinking. It gives them something to focus on. Maybe they'll realize that reading isn't so bad, after all! I like when the schools give kids a wide range of books to choose from - the students can pick for themselves if they want something in their comfort zone or maybe out of it if they're feeling adventurous.
So, now for the specifics at the high school I attended (longer ago than I would care to admit to!): except for the AP students, who get a separate assignment, each student has to read two books this summer: one required book for each grade and an additional book from a list of suggestions, which are different for each grade. Sounds pretty reasonable to me, for both students (who only have to read 2 books) and teachers - the teachers get the benefit of being able to discuss one book that everyone has read and then maybe everyone can be more creative for another assignment based on the suggested reading.
Here are the required books for each grade:
- 9th grade: Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements (2002)
- 10th grade: Breathing Underwater by Alex Finn (2001)
- 11th grade: Monster by Walter Dean Myers (1999)
- 12th grade: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003)
The lists of suggested titles for each grade offer anywhere between 26 and 29 choices, with at least a couple non-fiction titles, and this is where things get really interesting, at least from my perspective (I'm not going to list all the books, since I haven't even heard of a lot of them, just ones that stand out to me).
- The 9th grade suggested list includes Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. With the Netflix series being so controversial, I'm surprised yet not surprised to see this one. I bet a lot of kids will be reading this and maybe it will spark some deep discussions.
- Looking for Alaska by John Green and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky are just a couple of the YA titles on the 10th grade list, which I think is really fun! There's even some fantasy YA with a book by Maggie Steifvater. Jodi Picoult's Nineteen Minutes and John Krakauer's non-fiction Into Thin Air (both of which I enjoyed) are some of the more adult titles on the list.
- The 11th grade list starts adding in more classics, with titles by John Steinbeck and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I thought a nice inclusion on the non-fiction side was The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story, since the movie version is coming out this year.
- The 12th grade list also features popular classics like Emma by Jane Austen. This list had quite a few titles that I recognized, like Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier and Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper. Wally Lamb's She's Come Undone is also on the list, and I'm pretty sure the copy I have at home is the one I bought for my own summer reading a million years ago!
What do you think of required summer reading? Did you have required reading when you were in school? What types of books did you have to read? If you have kids, what kinds of summer reading are they doing?