The Angst of Summer Reading

Yes, we beat our students over the head with summer reading assignments, and they respond by reading the book their first week back at school (maybe - no one knows that better than the school librarian). Lisa Von Drasek asks why they hate summer reading assignments, and what we REALLY want them to do: Summer Reading? Good! Assigned Reading? Bad.
Back on July 2nd, Roger Sutton (Horn Book's editor-in-chief, and Simmons) questioned his Twitter followers: "topic for my class today: why does required reading feel more difficult?" "maybe it only feels that way for people who like to read, thus pleasure turned into obligation?" "or maybe because there are strings attached." Roger was reacting to Nicholas Kristof 's New York Times column on recommended children's books: Little Lord Fauntleroy? Really?
I used to work in a public library summer reading booth. Some of my biggest readers were second-grade boys who read every one of Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants books they could find, then went on to read his other series titles. They wouldn't put the books down, and couldn't wait to tell me about the next one! Now I see so many teen boys who say proudly "I don't read." Where did we lose them?
If my high school students could recapture that fun feeling about summer reading, I would be thrilled. That's why, whether they finish the "assigned" reading or not, I'm happy to hear a teen tell me they read something they liked over the summer. Even if it was another Captain Underpants.

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