Summer Reading


Working in a school library with fine late May weather, I am finding it hard to concentrate. I am anticipating the home stretch as we wind down the year. The kids and myself are antsy thinking ahead to summer…and summer reading, in my case. Luckily I don’t have an assigned summer reading list. But kids going to summer school or private school might have pre-reading for classes to complete. Educator and author Donalyn Miller has strong opinions on the value of summer reading:

Assigning complex texts for summer reading doesn’t assure students are reading. Even if students muddle through these challenges, I suspect more than a few readers miss the deeper themes or fail to understand the books. Kelly Gallagher talks about “underteaching” books—sending students off to read difficult texts on their own without support from teachers—a practice that results in poor comprehension and reduced engagement for most young readers. Reading books they don’t understand does nothing to improve students’ reading ability and goes a long way toward disenfranchising them from reading altogether.

 (from blog post June 9, 2013 by Donalyn Miller)

I remember slogging through Huckleberry Finn in high school, which ruined me for Mark Twain’s work for a long time. So this time I tackled Charles Dickens with a slow, methodical plan. I chose Great Expectations carefully and opted to read it digitally in Overdrive. I own this copy, which is sourced from awesome free e-books at Project Gutenberg.  The result is very little stress to finish it fast and return it to the bricks and mortar library. At times, I can be a slow reader too, as this has taken me over a year to read. But my reading pattern has been a good fit, as Dickens writes in episodes, in which characters cycle back. By chance I browsed the graphic novel, but I refuse to watch a movie adaptation as I am enjoying the rich language and images that visuals would compete with my imagination. Many strong readers/friends have tried to dissuade me from reading Dickens as they have classified it as boring or too complex. I don’t think any text is too complex, but rather we need to come to it with the right frame of mind, and in a conducive context.

Choice for students is a critical factor as to whether they will develop and identify themselves as readers. That’s where my job is a more of a vocation to spark that interest in all the adventures waiting for them in books. The more they read, the more they can understand what they like and don’t like. Reading is not just task-based about completing the number of book reports per term.

And the last word goes to Miller who has a Book A Day challenge for the summer. I might just try it out…So many books, too little time.

– Brenda



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