Summer reading lists have been around for eons, it would seem. Until this year, that is, at least in my neck of the woods.
When my girls, who are going into the 10th, ninth, ninth and seventh grades, finished school last May they told me they didn’t have any required summer reading. Seeing how each of them independently told me the same story, and there was no information about summer reading on their respective schools’ websites, I was forced to accept this as truth.
However, as each had been given reading lists since at least the third grade previously, I found the change perplexing.
I told them, though, that they would be reading at least one book that I would pick out for them. My girls have varying levels of interest in reading: One is an avid bookworm and is never without something to peruse; another is a social butterfly and, while an excellent writer, would rather do just about anything than sit down and read.
The four start school tomorrow and over the summer between them managed to read 18 books. This, however, is not broken down evenly. One of my twins read nine books, including The Scarlet Letter, which I picked out for her. The youngest read six books, including Little Women, which was my choice. The oldest read two books – All Things Bright and Beautiful and Animal Farm – the first of which I chose because of her love of animals, and the second she chose because she thought it was about a farm (I didn’t disabuse her of that notion when she showed it to me initally). My other twin managed to get through one book, To Kill a Mockingbird, which I chose for her.
Obviously I would have preferred for the latter two to have spent more time reading and less time playing on their cell phones, but they only live with me part of the time so I’m glad they accomplished what they did.
What I found rather discouraging was the reason their schools didn’t assign reading lists, which I learned only this past weekend.
My three older girls were told at the end of last year that students weren’t being assigned summer reading “because kids won’t do it.” This was verified by another student who attends a different area school.
As an aside, my children are fortunate enough to attend classes in one of the best public school districts in South Carolina.
This district never misses an opportunity to pat itself on its back for its high ranking, all the new schools it’s building and upgrades it’s adding to existing schools, and all the state-of-the-art gadgets it’s installing in both new and existing structures.
(I was astounded when my children attended a relatively new grammar school to see such things as each and every classroom with its own bathroom, and each classroom with its own electronic smartboard, which apparently can cost from $2,000 to $5,000 apiece, even though some teachers didn’t bother to use them.)
Our district passed a $243 million bond referendum seven years ago and if one wanted to play devil’s advocate one could say that the district has to make sure that all that money is spent, no matter how useful the expenditures.
Yet, the district has decided to forego something as simple and useful as summer reading “because kids won’t do it.”
Sounds more like some whiny parents complained to school and district officials that their little darlings shouldn’t have to start the school year with zeroes because said little darlings hadn’t done their summer assignments.
The district, after all, likes to keep parents happy because they’re the ones footing the bill for all the shiny new baubles.
Of course, the above supposition is just conjecture on my part, but we do seem to live in a time when the squeaky wheel not only gets the grease, but is catered to like royalty.
That said, we’ll see how the spoiled progeny do when they’re in the workforce and fail to get assignments done on time. Whiny mom and dad won’t do much good then, will they?
(Top: New York college student plays on cell phone while her mother makes her dorm room bed.)