Benefits of Summer Reading

The benefits of summer reading are numerous. Unfortunately, students can fall victim to the “summer slide”, the loss of knowledge and skills that occurs when school is out of session. Research reveals that by the time a struggling reader makes it to middle school, summer reading loss can accumulate up to an estimated two-year gap in reading performance. By reading over the summer, students are less likely to experience the “summer slide”.

Reading over summer break not only keeps students engaged in learning while school is out, but it also allows students to become familiar with a subject before it is discussed in the fall. Getting a jumpstart on fall texts can help students have a better opportunity to reflect on what they have read as they delve into fall course content. Promotion of summer reading is an important way to help students stay on track and prepare for fall discussions.

Summer Reading for Fall Discussion

When reading over the summer for the purpose of preparing for fall classroom discussion, books that have broad themes should be chosen. These themes can include, but are not limited to: freedom, overcoming tragedy, dealing with conflict, imprisonment, individuality, acceptance, relationships, and friendships. Choosing texts with broad themes allows the reader to increase their schema and be prepared for reading group discussion questions on such topics and the perspectives gained from reading these books. The following are just a few examples of good books to read this summer for middle and high school summer reading that will get students to begin to think critically about big topics.

I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives by Martin Ganada

This book is a good read for students ages 12 and older. It is about a middle school aged child who writes to a penpal in Zimbabwe. The correspondence between the two progresses from small talk to a real understanding of poverty in Zimbabwe, resulting in the American middle schooler sending money to her new friend in an effort to make a difference in his life. This book carries a theme of friendship and empathy. In this book, an appreciation for having one’s needs met can be learned. Compassion and how the actions of one can impact another makes this book an inspiring summer read.

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Philip M. Hoose

The Boy Who Challenged Hitler is a historical fiction about classmates who start a secret club of political resisters in the year 1941. These teenage boys, the Churchill Club, went up against the Nazis by committing 25 acts of sabotage. The boys would steal Nazi weapons, disable Nazi vehicles, and much more. This book is a good mix of history, courage, and human rights. It is a book that will likely engage young readers ages 12 and up and will peak their historical interests.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

In this text, a young boy with Autism struggles with understanding human emotion. Although he is very bright, his daily interactions consist of rules, patterns, and a diagram that he keeps in his pocket. One day, his neighbor’s dog is killed and he sets out to solve the dog’s murder following in the footsteps of his favorite detective, Sherlock Holmes. The novel is funny, engaging, and gives the reader a look into the daily life of a young person with Autism. Reading this selection gives the reader a new perspective on what it means to have Autism and addresses the theme of acceptance.

Smile by Riana Telgemeier

This text is another good read for students in middle school. It is about a sixth grader who falls and injures her two front teeth, forcing her to undergo surgery, braces, and headgear. She also deals with typical teenage issues such as relationship drama and determining what real friendship looks like. It is a modern twist on the Graphic Novel Genre, which provides a fun spin on summer reading. A strong theme throughout the story is self-acceptance, which is a theme that most middle and high schoolers could benefit from exploring.

Faceless by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

This text is for high school students. It is about a girl who suffered from an electrical fire and has 3rd degree burns to her body and damage to her face. She is missing her nose, chin, and left cheek. She undergoes a facial transplant and deals with healing both physically, mentally, and emotionally. She struggles to find her way with her new face. The book is an amazing story of overcoming adversity and gives readers a look into the trials that others go through when they have been subject to tragedy such as this book’s main character.

The books listed here are just the tip of the summer reading iceberg. Students in upper grades have endless reading possibilities to prepare them for text discussion when fall rolls around! Diving into a great book is a perfect way to prepare for fall.