“‘Summer was here again. Summer, summer, summer. I loved and hated summers. Summers had a logic all their own and they always brought something out it me. Summer was supposed to be about freedom and youth and no school and possibilities and adventure and exploration. Summer was a book of hope. That’s why I loved and hated summers. Because they made me want to believe.'”
“Now that’s how you start a book!” notes Kate Walker, in her book review of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe on the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English Language Arts blog. She goes on to say,
“If you need a summer read, why not start with one that also begins in summer? I had no less than three students recommend this book to me in the last week of school. Thus, when I went to the bookstore to buy my first read of the summer, I picked up a copy of Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Honestly, I don’t know how in the world I hadn’t read this book yet.”
All the ebullience we English teachers feel about books and wish to help our students feel!
But, summer reading lists, made and assigned for all the right reasons, can still make or break that joy and enthusiasm—maybe the list is too confining, maybe it’s an assignment that will be tested and feels like a chore, maybe a parent objects to a text and raises such a furor that the reading no longer is fun.
If summer is to be “a book of hope” and students are to while away days lost in a book they enjoy, summer reading programs need to be more like this one at Milford High School that strives to” inspire a love of reading and teach our students that reading is an enjoyable and social activity that fosters intellectual curiosity” and that gives students over 90 choices suggested by all teachers in the school.
And the bonus—aside from the obvious—the laudable goal of the program and the number of choices are the best defense against a book challenge!