I love books. Seeing as I am an English teacher, this probably isn’t a surprise. Considering my love of the written word, I’ve been gleefully compiling my summer reading list since the temps topped 70. When I worked in a bookstore, and later in publishing, I used to harbor a fantasy of young readers making “To Read” lists and then dashing off to the library to cart home their summer reading adventures- but I knew this was more in line with fantasy than reality. Now, as a teacher, I want to shape my students into real readers.
I believe that students need a community of readers around them so they can see reading as something that is not simply done for class, but something that is part of living and learning in the world beyond school. With this in mind, the InLab team set out to tackle summer reading for our incoming students.
All students at Greenwich High School are given the same assignment– read two books, any two books, and come to school prepared to write about them. Knowing that we will have a range of readers, and that community is at the heart of much of our InLab philosophy, we set out to shape summer reading into something all our own.
What we came up with is, in my humble opinion, pretty exciting. Each of us is contributing three titles to recommend. A “Beach Read,” a “Can’t put it Down” read and a piece of “Quintessential Lit.” Considering all of us on the InLab team have varied reading tastes, the lists are shaping up to be a reflection of our personalities and interests. Classics like Sherlock Holmes, nonfiction like Blink and contemporary literary fiction like Station Eleven are just some of the titles that have made their way onto our lists. Students will pick from our lists and when they arrive in the fall they will participate in a discussion lead by the faculty member who recommended the book. These discussions will make summer reading not just about the book, but about getting to know each other, about building community.
I think back to myself at 15 and the prospect of discussing a novel with my math teacher would have immediately made math class more interesting to me. I would have seen some common ground with the teacher. And who knows, maybe then asking for help in math would not have seemed so terrifying.
Our summer reading assignment will not only show that each of us reads, but also that we are a community of readers who are embarking on a year’s worth of learning together.
Keep your eye out for our lists, they will be out early next week and are sure to have something for every reader. In the meantime, readers, what three books would be on your list?