Summer Reading: A Necessary Evil or a Plan to Ruin Your Summer Vacation

Summer Reading: A Necessary Evil or a Plan to Ruin Your Summer Vacation

Countdown to procrastination in three . . . two . . . o- maybe later.  If a student thought her procrastination had reached an all time high during the school year, then she never experienced the tedious, nail-biting, blood-curdling assignment that is summer reading. Summer reading, the antithesis of happiness and social living, is feared by many and welcomed by few. This shockingly difficult task robs each and every student of their summer pastimes. It could shatter the weak; it could make a wrestler cry; it could even cause the non-believer to believe, but does it actually enrich education and the high school curriculum?

In theory, reading a few books for school during the summer seems easy. In fact, many people enjoy reading as a favorite pastime. However, suffering through the note-taking, outlining, and highlighting (oh my!) required in order to ace the summer reading exams during the first week of school, it definitely leaves permanent scars. For students who have never been put through such torture, it would appear to be manageable. For the veteran summer reader, however, there are two types of wrong people: the people who read every book at the beginning of summer to just get them out of the way and the people who are trying to hide the fact that they just started the assigned reading that morning from the teacher. It’s a lose-lose situation. Students either forget everything they read because they read it so long ago, or they forget everything they read because they  only skimmed through Sparknotes earlier in the day to find out the bare minimum of the plot.  Therefore, reading the books in the middle of the summer (the BEST TIME of the summer) seems to be the best, most effective time to condemn yourself to weeks of highlighting and outlining. Unfortunately, the aforementioned reasoning causes most high school students  to believe that their teachers are “out to get them”, all of whom, students suppose, laugh darkly to themselves as students drown in their prescribed misery.

Ms. Seeger, a new OC English teacher and an Oakland Catholic alumna, gave her opinion on the despised topic of summer reading and discussed whether or not it was important or really just a teacher’s sick joke. Reminiscing about her time at OC, Ms. Seeger recalls that she initially would not have chosen to read any of the assigned works, but later, she began to appreciate each work. She particularly remembers reading A Light in August by William Faulkner, which was a generally hated book by Ms. Seeger and her fellow classmates. Some other selections included A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Guns, Germs, and Steel, both of which she did enjoy. Ms. Seeger also admitted that some of the books that were required summer reading made sizable impacts on her, such as A Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger  and The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. When asked if her opinion of summer reading has changed since she became a teacher at Oakland Catholic, Ms. Seeger replied, “I think a lot of it is the same. Now as a teacher, I see even more how important it is. I think that summer reading is really important because those are the texts that we select, that we want to cover, in class. Those are books that we find are very important to the curriculum, and that’s why we assign them as summer reading. I think it’s essential that students are reading them and getting the main themes, messages, and all other aspects we want to get across.”

So, as much as every student hates summer reading and thinks that it is some form of torture, it actually is a significant part of the high school curriculum. Summer reading helps students to develop and hone skills that they will eventually need in college, and throughout the rest of their lives. Reading comprehension remains a crucial skill, and as much as students despise it, it is best taught through the agonizing, anguishing, and tormenting task that is summer reading.