After the various conversations about kids reading above grade level, I'm sure the other hot topic for this time of year is required summer reading.
Yesterday my 12-year-old daughter came home from school positively incensed that she was going to have to read two specific books and write a three page paper on them for the first day of school next year.
And when I say incensed, I mean all the injustice of the world had fallen on her soon to be 7th-grade shoulders.
The thing is, she loves to read. Absolutely loves to read. She's not mad that she has to read two books. She's mad that she has to read these two books. And it's not even that the books are so horrible (though not necessarily her chosen reading material). It's more that she's mad that she has to read these two books.
As far as the paper - she is not happy about it, but she writes more than that on her stories every night, I'm sure three pages comparing and contrasting these two books won't be too horrible.
This is the first time either of my kids has had a specific reading assignment over the summer. I know a lot of kids have them even at younger ages. And I understand the purpose behind them. 1) to make sure kids are actually reading and 2) to have kids read the same books so that they can have a discussion of them in school. Neither of these are bad things.
Of course as my daughter was reading one of the books last night (she plans to finish the assignment before school is out next week because she doesn't intend to do any homework over the summer) she was complaining about how much she didn't like the book.
"Is that because it's that book, or because someone is making you read it?"
She admitted it was probably a little of both.
So that begs the question - even with good motives, are required summer reading lists counterproductive? I understand that teachers want to make sure that kids (at all levels) are reading during the summer, it's an important skill to keep up. But is turning fun into work the best way to do that?
And as a side note -- this assignment is only for kids in Honors English, and these are kids you probably don't have to encourage to read for fun.
Oh - and the books she has to read: Crispin, the Cross of Lead and True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle both by Avi. Books I think she would like if she allowed herself to.