Is Summer Reading Necessary?

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Is Summer Reading Necessary?

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At the start of every summer, high school students receive a list of books to read to prepare for tests and discussion at the beginning of the school year. Many students would rather spend their summers relaxing and having fun without the pressures of school weighing them down. Some students enjoy reading but not so much the books they are assigned. Others enjoy the assigned books and do not mind the responsibility. As we ponder the purpose and effects of summer reading, we wonder, “is it necessary?” 

According to Homeroom, summer reading is important in improving students’ reading skills. Without the continuity of reading during the summer, students can face a decline in their language abilities. This can create a “gap” between those who read and those who don’t. 

One particular study by researches Karl Alexander and Doris Entwisle of the Johns Hopkins Center for summer learning, which is now the National Center for summer learning, found that by fifth grade students who didn’t read during the summer were two years behind their book-reading peers. They also found that summer learning loss was responsible for most of the achievement gap between students who lived in poverty and those whose families were in a better place. 

Some students agree with this idea. 

“I think it’s necessary because not all of us retain knowledge over the summer, and it’s good to learn more,” junior Lauren Pollock explained. 

CHS English teacher Rachel Wilkinson agrees that summer reading is largely beneficial. 

“Summer reading is vital for student growth,” Wilkinson expressed. “Students who don’t read over the summer lose an entire grade level worth of knowledge over the course of two summers.” 

Believe it or not, reading can also be helpful for the human brain. 

“Reading has a lot of benefits and it can activate your brain,” junior Ngun Par stated. 

According to Real Simple, reading can improve memory function, improve intelligence, boost brain power, fight Alzheimer’s, and give your brain a good workout.  

On the other hand, according to NY Times, giving homework isn’t as helpful as teachers think. Providing a pile of homework and summer reading can cause stress for the students while on break. Instead of being helpful, children will procrastinate to the point of “unbearable” stress for the whole family.  

Many students can also be very busy during the summer with volunteer work, jobs, or summer camps. Adding more load to summer work can create pressure for these students. 

“It’s good to keep students engaged academically over the summer, but summer reading can become a burden if you are busy,” senior Olivia Palmer described. 

Others believe summer is a time to relax and have fun from all the stress in school; therefore, students shouldn’t get summer reading. 

“I don’t think it’s that necessary because when it’s too much to read, your summer break won’t seem like a break. Therefore, some people would never read it, and would read the summary online,” Par explained. 

A possible solution to this problem is to assign less books to read over the summer. This allows the students to both keep up with their reading skills and have less strain in their schedule.  

Some students enjoy reading and want to take the summer as an opportunity to read books of their own choice. They don’t enjoy being assigned books to read but aren’t in danger of being left behind because they continue reading on their own. Should they still be required to read the books for school? Would requiring students to read books but not necessarily assigned reading be a valid replacement? 

English teacher Angela Glenn wishes that summer reading offered more choice. 

“I wish summer reading was for students to read what they want to read, not what they have to read,” Glenn expressed. “My daughter is just required to keep some kind of reading log of what she’s read, and I wish it was kind of something like that, even if it required them to give some kind of report.” 

Although summer reading may not be your idea of a good time, many libraries have summer reading programs to help make reading more fun. 

The Baltimore County Public Library is a short distance from CHS, and they begin their annual summer reading program on Monday June 17th. Although these summer reading programs are generally for younger students, high school students are able to volunteer and gain service hours by helping with the program. 

Though it interrupts most students’ idea of fun during the summer, assigned summer reading can help students stay on track while not in school. Whether assigned reading is the answer or not, continuing to read during the summer has shown its benefits, and the program likely won’t experience any major changes in the near future.