As the last days of school approach, Bedford students are, understandably, restless and beaming in the halls. A hum of excitement and anticipation hangs in the air, each waits to heave a collective sigh of relief, to retreat to beaches and bedrooms until August arrives.
However, a single complication prevents relaxation from fully taking hold: the dreaded summer reading requirements.
Rising seventh graders are designated to read two books of their choice, one informational and one narrative, while taking brief personal notes. Rising eighth graders must read three books in total, one of them informational, and they too should collect quotes throughout each.
Rising ninth graders will have to read three books that can be connected through content or theme; there should be one narrative book, one informational book, and one of their choice, as well as a related experience, film, or other form of media. They must fill out a corresponding graphic organizer. More information on each assignment can be found on the LMC website under the Summer Reading tab.
Remember, though, this is the minimum number of books you need to read. While some students are disgusted by the thought of trudging through additional novels for pleasure, some find great delight in doing so. In fact, they spend school nights with their noses stuck in them. Brea Church, an eighth grader in the green pod, said, “I probably read about three to four books in a week, though it varies.”
The experience of reading is both thrilling and educational. “[Reading] connects me more to the world, the problems of the world, as well as the fantastical things in the world,” she said.
Eighth grader Connor Moynihan, who says he can read about eight books in a week, explained, “I’m a fast reader, and I can really visualize the books. It’s like a movie.”
Julia Berg, a seventh grader and another avid reader, simply said, “It’s really entertaining to me.”
With social media and other digital forms of entertainment, students in recent years have not spent the bulk of their time immersed in words. According to the American Psychological Association, less than 20 percent of teenagers in the U.S. reported reading a book, newspaper or magazine for their own pleasure. Internationally, the OECD Observer found that 46 percent of boys said they read only when forced to, contrasting the 26 percent of girls who agreed.
Brea admitted, though, that she does “actually kind of hate being forced to read a book for school. Having to annotate or look for things in a certain way kind of ruins the flow of the story. It interrupts the adventure to bring you back to reality.”
Connor had a slightly different opinion: “It completely depends on the book. I just read a book for social studies, and it was really interesting. It was like a narrative. It was a book I really liked.” Julia agreed, saying she enjoys it “occasionally.”
These middle schoolers are vivid examples of the varying types of students at Bedford. Their love for reading, while somewhat unique for teenagers, is greatly inspiring and can show others that they can enjoy the academically-associated activity, too.
Books provide opportunities for them to escape from their busy lives; although the task of summer reading can seem daunting or tedious, considering it differently may make it more enjoyable. This vacation, choose a text that you’ll find engaging and exciting, and you may be pleasantly surprised.