Need a New Book for the Summer?
By Carlie Evans
Photo courtesy of maranausd.org
When most people think summer, they think relaxing, running around and not worrying about school. Most think that reading a book does not fall into any of those categories. If you find the right book, that could change. You’d get a double bonus, the benefit of entertainment plus keeping your skills sharp from the school year.
Jamesville-DeWitt High School English teacher Diane Rushford thinks summer reading is very important. “Students can easily lose skills if they are not practiced,” she said; “reading builds vocabulary and fluency and helps not only with reading but with writing too,” she continued. She also said that reading can be a great form of entertainment and can help kids escape from stressful events in their daily lives.
Rushford has put a twist on her sophomore classes’ contemporary fiction novels they chose to read. In sophomore John Maroney’s words, “you have to read a book and write a description about it.” In this final unit, the students could read any contemporary fiction novel they want. Keeping in mind summer reading, she wanted her students to look into the book and make a poster that shows an overview of their novel to recommend to classmates. “I wanted the 10th graders to use the literary elements (plot, setting, characterization, etc.) to create a poster that is as professional as possible, giving why a peer should read the novel they chose,” said Rushford. She says that kids always have to look at adult-chosen summer reading lists. “I wanted (students) to have a list chosen by them, for them,” Rushford added. Sophomore Kyle Rumble who read “Feed” by M.T. Anderson, describes the project as being very difficult and time consuming.
However, other English 10 students who are participating in the reading recommendation project enjoy the “by students for students” outlook. Sophomore George Kassis says he is reading the book “Rikers Island” by Evan Baker. Kassis said “it’s a great book, I recommend it.” Sophomore Erin Lumia says that some of the books that teachers choose aren’t good. Kerri Keeler who read “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, agrees with Lumia saying “it definitely made it more interesting.”Lumia thinks the recommendation portion of the project is good because “other students can see that we like the books and why, and maybe they will like them too.” Maroney agrees saying “it will inspire people to read more.” Keeler disagrees with Lumia, saying “(her poster) is kind of boring, it’s hard to describe my book to make it look interesting.” Rumble seems to agree with both Lumia and Keeler. He said “the recommendations will help a little bit but, if you are going to read, you will, if not you won’t.”
Mrs. Rushford’s sophomores aren’t the only students at J-DHS who have summer book recommendations. Freshman Austin Philleo recommends Suzanne Collins’s “The Hunger Games”. Freshman Macie Whitbeck says her current favorite author is Lauren Oliver. Whitbeck recommends Oliver for her “romance and real life lessons and situations.” Sophomore Ryan Adelberg recommends the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling while Kassis recommends the novel “I Am Number Four” by Pittacus Lore.
Students have certain preferences about what style of books they read. Kassis enjoys long reads. Adelberg agrees with Kassis, saying “the plot line is better in long books than in short books.” On the other hand, Philleo prefers quick reads and junior Tamarus Howard simply says “it depends on the book.” Although, Howard prefers to narrow his choices down to action and sports books. Whitbeck likes to get caught up in a long series.
What’s better then getting comfortable in your favorite reading spot with a good book? Students have certain places that they go to read. Kassis says he goes anywhere in his house. Ryan Adelberg prefers his “private study.” Howard and Philleo both like reading in their bedrooms, Philleo before he goes to sleep and Howard in his “comfy chair.” As for Whitbeck, she hasn’t found a favorite go-to spot yet.
*If you are looking for some good reads to keep occupied this summer, be sure to check out the library for Mrs. Rushford’s class’s recommendations.