Reading engages creativity, strengthens vocabulary and encourages critical thought processes, so it’s no wonder that one of the best ways to keep kids’ minds active during the summer is to provide plenty of good reading material. Whether you are a parent trying to keep your child’s brain from going to mush during the non-school months or a teacher deciding on a summer assignment, there are many places to look for suggestions.
* For the high-achiever
For a high school student who enjoys reading and is considering college in the near future, the best summer reading books are those chosen from the top 101 books for college-bound put out by the College Board. These are mostly classic books that improve a student’s vocabulary as well as knowledge of literary culture. The Youth Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) also puts out a comprehensive list of recommendations for college-bound students that is broken down into categories of interest. When choosing classical literature, avoid books and plays that students will be exposed to in class, such as Shakespeare, Homer and Chaucer. Focus instead on Austen, Bronte, Twain, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald. Authors such as these will help students learn about literary styles and genres that will strengthen their knowledge of literature and rhetoric and vocabulary that will help with ACT tests and college placement exams.
* For the reluctant reader
If getting your child to read is a struggle, then just getting them to crack open any book at all may be a triumph. In that case, steer away from the more wordy and challenging classics and look for a more contemporary read that will stimulate your child’s imagination and keep them interested while still keeping them thinking. Try your local library’s website. Libraries often put together lists of books that are popular and age-appropriate for high school students. Look for something that is exciting but still thought-provoking. If your library doesn’t have a list, try the English Journal list. Consider choosing a book that has a movie adaptation. When your child finishes the book, you can have a family movie night to celebrate. Giving your child a chance to discuss the differences between the two versions uses critical thinking skills necessary to writing literary interpretations in school.
No matter what your child’s interests or goals, there are books to attract and excite them. Don’t feel bad if you can’t get them to read famous classic novels or they insist on reading nothing but the Twilight Saga. While classics will do more to broaden their vocabulary and improve their consciousness of various literary styles, any reading at all will boost their comprehension and confidence as a reader.