The Summer Reading List: Back to School Edition!

Public schools are back in session — yes, already! At least where I live, they are. My kid is safely ensconced in an institution of learning, ready to absorb all sorts of wisdom…

… and all the back-to-school hoopla has started me thinking (uh-oh).

On a trip this summer, we happened to be traveling with several families who had teens with them (and they were all quite lovely to be around!). Most of these teens spent their time on the various bus rides trying to barrel through their required summer reading. First off, I was happy to see teens reading actual books (you know, those things made of paper) and not constantly texting, tweeting, etc. Second, I was impressed by some of their reading assignments. Third, I started thinking about just how long it’s been since I’ve read some of these books, and felt quite ancient when I realized that for some, it’s been decades.

So I decided to give myself a back-to-school reading assignment. I’m quite wary of reading challenges these days, since I invariably fail. (Can I help it if I get distracted by all the shiny books waiting to be read and have a problem sticking to a pre-defined list?) I thought I’d keep it simple and doable. Sometime during the coming school year, I intend to read three or four “summer reading” books and see how they stand up a) compared to my memories and b) as experienced by an adult rather than a high school student!

I intend to read:

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

If I finish all of these and the school year isn’t over yet, I may add a 4th book to the list. Any suggestions?

I haven’t set myself a timeline or schedule at all, so I’ll be reading these more or less whenever I feel like it. BUT, if anyone wants to join me, I’d be happy to make it a bit more official and “assign” a due date so we can discuss.

Let me know if you’d like to join me in my back-to-school reading! No pop quizzes, I promise.

4 thoughts on “The Summer Reading List: Back to School Edition!

  1. My kid is a freshmen in honors English and he has the CRAZIEST reading list. Odyssey, To Kill a Mockingbird is on there, The Count of Monte Cristo, several Shakespeare plays, but I was pleasantly surprised to see The Book Thief on there. I plan to read that one with him. 🙂 I may do a re-read of Mockingbird too, I don’t remember a single thing about that book.
    Lord of the Flies was one of my favorites in school! As was 1984 by Orwell.

    • I should probably re-read 1984 one of these days too! I really don’t remember a thing about Mockingbird either, which is why I really want to read it again. The Book Thief is an awesome choice — it seems to be on a lot of school reading lists now.

  2. Personally I think a lot of this stuff is wasted on high school kids… I was in most ways a good student and even I did the bare minimum to get through these assignments. I didn’t appreciate them at all (of course I was in honors classes, so we got even more classics with nothing contemporary or more accessible to balance them out). I’m not saying we should be “dumbing down” the assignments, and I realize a lot of time teens understand more than adults give them credit for… but when you take an avid reader and make it so she won’t pick up another book for pleasure until halfway through college… something clearly isn’t working.

    All that said, I occasionally pick up something that I read (or was supposed to read) in high school. Some of it I still feel pretty meh about, some of it I enjoy a lot more.

    • Well, I definitely agree that much of the good stuff is wasted when it’s forced down students’ throats. Of course, would anyone read The Scarlet Letter without a school assignment? It looks, though, like some schools are making more of an effort to mix things up. I was totally surprised last spring while visiting a local middle school to see a classroom full of kids with The Book Thief on their desks. (I think it was an 8th grade honors English class). One example for me is The Great Gatsby — I remember finding it boring when I read it in high school, and I’m sure that it was just the wrong book at the wrong time for me. On the whole, I was fortunate to have some great teachers, so I actually remember a lot of my high school reading as being amazing (Romeo & Juliet, A Tale of Two Cities, etc)

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