Summer reading requirements actually prove captivating, moving


Almost everyone knows the typical drag that comes with summer reading; the one “boring” book that we’re required to read, annotate and analyze. Although I agree it’s always been a hassle to have to take time out of lake-filled days to actually buckle down and read, I have yet to come across a required summer reading in high school that has not been intriguing or insightful.

Throughout the past three years, my summer reading included: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah and Almost Home by Kevin Ryan and Tina Kelley. All three of these books were non-fiction and told stories that go beyond our little Westlake bubble. These novels give insight to the general public, educating on what’s actually going on around the world and even around our country that we are oblivious to.

Most recently I read Almost Home. This novel told the story of six different teens who struggled as homeless children in America. All coming from different backgrounds, these teens fought and persevered through the unimaginable. It was an incredible story because when most people think of “homeless,” not many think of the teens and even the children who wander the streets without a roof over their heads, let alone knowing where their next meal will come from. This book isn’t meant to make the audience feel bad for being privileged or anything. Its sole purpose is to spread the word and to show people all the poverty and homelessness of kids in the United States. Hopefully by doing this, it will inspire people all over the country to take action and lend a helping hand to those in need.

When the new school year began and I started talking to my friends, those who had read said they thoroughly enjoyed their books. They were so captivated by the different stories being told, many of them completely forgot to annotate as they read along. Although annotating can be a struggle, most of the time in our summer reading teachers simply ask us to notice themes and common threads; making students actually absorb the content in the book and what it means rather than just reading words on a page. It helps engage our minds on a deeper level, helping us to make connections throughout the book as well as in life.

A good percentage of people probably didn’t buy their book let alone read it. It’s understandable that we don’t want to do homework during the break, but before we’re too quick to decide whether or not we read next summer, we should explore the options our teachers have given us and think about it. If we take out the “required” part, one of these books might even become one of our favorites or inspire us to do something great.