Summer Reading

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My seven-year-old daughter is having a blast reading this summer.  She's newly literate and devouring series books (The Pet Fairies, Puppy Place, Katie Kazoo) with a passion.  Between library fines and Barnes and Noble expeditions, I'm going broke!  But, of course, I love it.  And I'm not the only one supporting her habit; the library has a reading program for kids in the community, Barnes and Noble is offering a free book to anyone who reads eight books, and her school is awarding "special prizes" to kids who complete a certain number of books. 

So here's the question:  what are college students reading this summer?  I asked my magazine-writing students this question on the last day of class.  Some are reading teen novels, like Stephanie Meyer's  TWILIGHT series.  Some are reading A. J. Jacobs' The Year of Living Biblically.  But some of them--English majors!--admitted that they didn't have much time to read in the summer.

And given that these students are among the most literary on campus, I wonder what students at the lower end of the reading spectrum are reading, and how we could encourage them to do more of it. 

I wish Barnes and Noble would give college students a free book for completing eight novels over the summer.  I wonder if my university would spring for some tacky prizes for those who complete a certain number of books.  Or how about a weekly book club, the college-aged equivalent to the library programs my daughter attends every week? 

Seton Hill does have a summer reading program, in which all freshmen are given a book we then discuss en masse and in small groups.  Many other schools do the same.  Is there more we could be doing, though, to promote reading among upperclassmen and all students? 

8 Comments

I've toyed with the idea of proposing an online summer course that reads current literary best-sellers (and a few quirky sleepers).

I must admit that I was one of those that said I wouldn't have time to read too much over the break but I think we need to consider some issues here. I know personally I'm working at a summer camp and am on the clock 24 hours a day. So even when I do have some free time (after my campers go to sleep at 11pm) then I could do some reading - but I'm tired then and don't even want to read. I know other students that don't have the same job but still do have jobs that take up a lot of time, are just too tired when they return home at night.

As a child, in the summers, I read A LOT. Because back then sometimes swimming or just playing outside got boring eventually, so I would read instead. Now I WISH I had that easy and care-free of a summer.

Though I have been getting a lot of Bible reading in because this is a church camp, if that makes up for my lack of reading novels.

Lee McClain said:

Chelsea--I remember you predicted this outcome in class. Reading the bible is fabulous--for spiritual reasons, most importantly, but also because you're absorbing references that are crucial in all sorts of literature.

Would your campers buy into an hour-long reading period? A half hour? Could you read to them? Imagine the influence that a hip young woman like you could have on those kids. You could make reading the "IT" thing to do this summer at camp!!!

I think I've been bored for a total of about five hours in my entire life since I've been married. There's always something I should be doing or could be doing (if not for me, then for my family, or my students, or for strangers who might otherwise read an inaccurate Wikipedia article...). Reading becomes a life-long habit only if we *make* time for it -- even when we're busy or tired.

Oh, wow, if the kids in your camp see their role model reading, that will definitely have an effect.

With some camps we have FOB time. Which stands for flat on bunk. When for however long the counselors decide the campers have to stay quiet on their beds to do whatever. (Read, write letters, sleep, ect.) So this week I am blessed with that time so I have been reading a book "Searching for God knows what" so hopefully some of my campers will pick up on it.

Leigh Jerz said:

Re: summer reading clubs
Adams Memorial Library in Latrobe (and probably also its partners Unity & Caldwell libraries, & the bookmobile) run(s) an Adult Summer Reading Club that the students could join. Reading hours mean "chance slips" for weekly prize drawings. It's not quite as exciting as the kids' club, but it does get me logging hours-- helps me make sure I'm reading.

For the record... I've been blogging for almost 10 years, and this is the first time my wife has *ever* left a comment on a blog.

Lee McClain Author Profile Page said:

Leigh, I'm honored that you would read and comment on my blog. I hope you had a good summer of reading and that you continued to log your hours at the library. I never seem to fulfill my good intentions with programs like that . . . case in point, I'm blogging to motivate myself to study developmental reading and writing, but fell off the blogging wagon in late June and am only now catching up on comments!

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