Editor's Note: The reprise of this column was, among other things, inspired by the extreme complaints I have been receiving from my son regarding "Marvel 1602" as a selection for summer reading before British literature. Being a British literature junkie, I can think of many better choices. (Two of the four choices, and one must select two, seem definitely geared towards girls' taste. I read "Rebecca," and loved it, but he's not me.) Hey, what about Macbeth? Or even the scary, thought-provoking "A Christmas Carol?" What do you think? Or are your students pleased with their selection?
By now, many of our intrepid Bernards Township students will have acquired, borrowed or in some cases, inherited their school's summer reading books, and undoubtedly are diving right in.
As a note: The reading list at the Annin middle school contains suggestions for summer reading, with a comprehensive list of books — some with very helpful links to the book trailers, along with a compilation of award winners.
Some books in the list are aimed at grades 6-12, which would give some leeway not only for interest, but also for different abilities and the willingness to attack mature (or not so mature) reading material.
The high school list includes separate options and requirements for honors and Advanced Placement classes.
So — what do you think of this list?
Is it of interest to students? Do your kids enjoy curling up with these books, or do they consider reading the required selections on par with, say, loading the dishwasher or cleaning their room?
Would you have enjoyed this list as a student? Do you think the choices have made you want to read more? Or make you want to do something else instead?
Do you think the school should set requirements so everyone can intelligently discuss the volumes come September?
Or would you rather see some leeway?
Personally, I certainly understand the reason for some required reading, especially at the high school. But it might be nice to throw in one open choice option — or maybe a longer list? I know the Board of Education is a little leery of putting certain (or questionable) books on the list, for fear of criticism.
I also wonder why some of the honors selections — some of which sound WAY better than the non-honors choices — aren't on the list for regular classes, at least as options.
My own son, not an avid reader, couldn't put down "Into the Wild" last year. Yet, here I note that book is only an option for honors for this year's 10th grade class.
And I think he (and many readers) might far prefer "Frankenstein," an awesome yarn if there ever was one, on this year's selection for the regular British literature class.
Is "Marvel 1602" — an extended comic book! — supposed to pique his reading? And two of the four options seem like they would mostly appeal to girls.
However, I would be tempted myself to curl up with some of the choices on the William Annin list — and I have read many of the classics they suggest.
By the way, what's wrong with the classics? Or do you think many of the classics are outmoded for today's young readers?
Please let us know what you think in the comments below, and/or vote in our poll if you'd prefer.