We’re in the middle of that time of year… summer reading for kids and teens. What a joy, right?
For librarians, it can be a little bit of a nightmare for us when we don’t get our shipment of summer reading books or when the procrastinators start coming in. Even just the Children and Teen librarians have a busy summer doing summer reading programs and keeping up with them. Since I’m not a Children or Teen Librarian, I don’t have to deal with this. I do, however, have to deal with having to locate summer reading books that are suddenly missing or haven’t been marked as missing yet in our system, which leads to irate parents.
My absolute favorite though (note the sarcasm) is when teens come in late August looking for books from their suggested reading lists only to find out that the book is out and there’s a waiting list. The reason for this is because they, and their parents if they’re tagging along, tend to get annoyed and upset that we don’t have the book in. It can go one of two ways… either they get upset with us or the parent gets annoyed at their teen and will make them buy the book with their own money (now this is my favorite thing to hear). The reason I root for the parents to go the second way about this situation is because, hey, it’s not our fault that your kid procrastinated all summer and now it’s too late to get the book in time before school starts. You could say that the parent could discipline them more and make them do their reading earlier in the summer, but a teenager is old enough to handle that responsibility themselves.
As for summer reading as a requirement for schools, I’ve never been against it. Then again, I’ve always liked reading so it was never an issue for me as a child/teenager to get it done. In fact, I usually overachieved in that area. What I don’t agree with, is schools giving out lists of books for students to choose from. While it’s nice to have a choice, most of these tend to be classics or books that these students won’t choose otherwise. My schools never required that you read books from a given list… just that you read. I got away with doing a summer book report on Twilight one year, and got an ‘A’ on it!
So again, I don’t see a big issue with required summer reading if students are given complete free reign to choose what they want to read. While the classics are great and I think are still important to read, it’s better when those are done in school to group read/analyze them (again, my opinion).
What do you all think? Are you for or against required summer reading for students? If so, do you think they should be allowed to choose their own books instead of from a given list?