Remember when your child used to read for fun? For hours, she would be curled up with the latest Harry Potter. He spent the week in a lounge chair on the beach with his nose in a book. Going to the library was an adventure. Reading was fun.
I love to read. I work with several students who love to read. Sadly, we are all so distracted, stressed-out, and over-programmed it is hard to allow ourselves the break to read for pleasure. Many of our kids were readers before they started high school. The pressures of advanced classes and the lack of any kind of real “free” time make it seem silly or irresponsible to carve out time to read. We’re attached to our phones and more comfortable scrolling through screens than turning pages. It is more socially acceptable, and doesn’t “count” as real time spent to be on our phones. Reading takes time and space--two things lacking in our lives.
Assigned summer reading is relatively common for most high school students. I understand the purpose and certainly support anything that encourages reading. However, I worry the assigned element is taking the joy out of reading and turning it into one more thing that is graded, required, and choreographed by adults. I’d like to see more free-reign readers. Let them go and see what they do! The choices they make might surprise us.
At the risk of going against my own advice, here are a few titles your student might enjoy. Graphic novels, poetry, short stories, and books celebrating diversity are included. Not required. Just recommended.
1. The Hate You Give, Angie Thomas
2. Damage Done, Amanda Panitch
3. Bloodchild and Other Stories, Octavia E. Butler
4. Jazz, Toni Morrison
5. The Watchmen, Alan Moore
6. The Poet X, Elizabeth Acevedo
7. Affrilachia, Frank X. Walker
8. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Erika L. Sanchez
9. Born a Crime, Trevor Noah
10. Black Panther, A Nation Under Our Feet, T-Nehisi Coates