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Summer and Required Reading Assignments

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It's a warm, sunny day in August and instead of going to the beach I'm analyzing metaphors from Annie Dillard's The Writing Life. I'm not the only student wishing she could be out enjoying summer instead of doing their tedious reading assignment. Required summer reading assignments should be abolished from schools because not only do they take away from a student's summer but they make the idea of reading less enjoyable.

My High School requires summer reading assignments to keep students reading and learning skills honed. Some students fail to complete the summer assignment because they believe it is a waste of time. Summer vacation to students is being able to do what they want and being away from the confines of school for awhile. So assignments are the last thing they want to do. Reading assignments during the summer are showing kids that reading is something that has to be done, not something that can be enjoyed.

Is forcing students to read really more important than keeping students interested in reading? If they aren't interested in literature, their wanting to continue to learn about it will decline. Many of my peers find it easier to understand a book when discussing it in class than if analyzing it alone. With a teacher, they can get further into a book then they would have if they were just reading it to get it over with.

Teachers might argue that students will drop reading al together during the summer. Why not encourage reading to students by suggesting books they could enjoy? Books about teenagers and their experiences are interesting to us because we can relate to them more then the life of a Pulitzer Prize winning author. Two books that were popular among teenagers in 2008, according to the American Library Association, were Beige by Cecil Castellucci and A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. These books both account two very different experiences of young people. Why not suggest these books as summer reading material instead?

Summer reading should be encouraged, not forced upon students. Changing students views on reading can help them do better on english exams and ultimately in their high school career. Abolishing summer reading is the first step towards that change, letting students realize that it can be enjoyable as long as they don’t have an essay to write along with it. Next summer, I’d rather be reading Jane Austen on the beach, instead of sitting inside analyzing metaphors, and not getting anything out of it.





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