The Voice

Summer Reading Torture

Julia Gallo

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It’s the last week of summer, the sun is out, the beach is calling your name, but you are stuck inside frantically trying to read all three of your summer reading books. This is what has happened to many Pres girls this summer and every summer since 1982.

Even though we are supposed to read our summer reading books at the beginning of the summer, most of us do not. And it’s not because we’re lazy. The few of us who decide to get a head start on reading usually forget most of the content by the time of the test. It teaches us that procrastination is something that we have to do in order to do well on it. This forces us to try to cram our three books into the last few weeks—or sometimes days—of summer.

Many Pres girls just end up going on websites like Sparknotes instead of reading because they are not able to finish reading all three books. We try any way possible to get around reading, instead of actually reading the books like the teachers want us to do. As a result, summer reading does not help with our reading literacy like the English teachers want to happen. Thus, summer reading does not help us at all.

This cramming before school starts adds to our already stressed out lives. Summer is supposed to be a time to relax and rejuvenate before school starts. We should therefore not have to stress about finishing three books and doing well on the test about them. All summer long there is a constant nagging in the back of our brain to finish reading. This makes complete relaxation almost impossible.

Our brother school, Bellarmine, acknowledged this added stress and decided to stop making their boys read books over the summer two years ago. It has improved their students’ summers and made them more productive. “It frees up more time to do more other things academically, like focusing on the SAT’s,” said Greg Kenter, a senior at Bellarmine. “As a football player, it really helps me focus on my football and what I have to do to make my team better and get better personally.”

Presentation needs to follow Bellarmine’s lead and stop forcing us to read summer reading books that adults choose for us. We are just as smart as Bellarmine and so we need to recognize that they had a brilliant idea when they decided to stop summer reading.

Teachers may argue that reading in the summer is a good thing because they want to make sure our reading skills do not diminish in the summer, but we should be able to read what we want. “As a student I didn’t actually really like summer reading,” admits teacher and Presentation alum Mrs. Rosenthal. “And it wasn’t so much that I didn’t like reading, it was the books being chosen for me. Fahrenheit 451 I remember was a book that I struggled though. They weren’t books that I typically enjoyed.”

Most of us are really busy during the school year and are not able to relax with a good book that we actually want to read. The summer is the perfect time for us to read different things that we are interested in and enjoy. Our dreams of reading whatever we want are cut short by the dreaded book list that the English department sends us.

Jennifer DeMedeiros, a junior at Presentation said, “I would rather read other books that I decide to read like more interesting books that appeal to me.”

Bellarmine students are able to read whatever they want and they take advantage of that. Kenter said, “It freed up my time a little bit more, but I kept on reading on my own. I read a book called The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Even worse, when school starts the teachers announce the date that everyone has been waiting for—the summer reading test.

There are always loads of moans and groans throughout the classrooms because every Pres girl knows that the teachers only test their memories for irrelevant details instead of themes and ideas.

Mrs. Rosenthal agreed, “The stress came a week or two before school starts because I’m not a procrastinator so I typically would have tried to read the books between June and the beginning of July. And then I got to August and had to come back to school and I couldn’t remember a lot of details about the books. So even though I did read them, it might’ve appeared as if I hadn’t read them as thoroughly as I actually had because I couldn’t remember things.”

After the test is done, most teachers never do anything interesting with the books so the point of reading them is just to make Presentation look like it is a college prep school. We do not actually learn anything except all the ways to try to get out of reading these books during the summer.

Presentation needs to recognize this issue and stop making us read summer reading books that they choose for us. Summer will be a more enjoyable and relaxing time for everyone and students will read more when this extra stress is gone.

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Summer Reading Torture