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How to Get the Most Out of Your Summer Reading

Advice From a High School Senior

Thoughts on Summer Reading

I’m not going to lie: I like reading, but I rarely enjoy summer reading. There’s just something not very enjoyable about being told what to read and when to read it. But as a rising high school senior in the process of completing my very last summer reading assignments (before college), I think I am finally starting to understand. (It must be because I am older and wiser now.)

Anyway, I have read a fair amount of books during my time in school and I thought that I would share my advice on how to make summer reading a more enjoyable and beneficial experience. Please feel free to make your own decisions and consult someone more familiar with you, since this is only my opinion.

Give Yourself A Lot of Time

When it comes to how much you can accomplish during the summer, it’s always best to over-estimate the amount of time that something will take you. Summer brains just seem to function differently than school-year brains, for some reason. The last thing you want with summer reading is to have to cram an assignment in at the last minute or even worse, not finish it at all. Allowing more time than necessary to get summer reading done, takes away the stress of finishing on time.

Consider Why You Were Assigned The Book

Chances are that your future teacher isn’t just making you read to be mean. There is a reason she/he assigned whatever book you have been given. It is definitely worth considering what exactly this reason is. If you know what the teacher wants you to get out of a book, then it is a lot easier to see a reason for reading the assignment. This could also help you with drawing the necessary connections and interacting with the text in a meaningful way.

Take Your Time

I’m very serious about this one. More often than not, I hear from fellow students and friends that they started their summer reading a week ago, yesterday, or sometimes not at all! Reading slowly (especially since many of the books you’re assigned could be more difficult) could help you really understand the material and actually get something out of the book. It doesn’t hurt to give yourself plenty of time to digest the material.

Summer Reading Isn’t Something to Just be Done With

I know what you’re thinking: Summer reading is homework and no one likes to make homework take longer than necessary. Well, change that attitude around my friends and think of summer reading as Daily Mind Enrichment or something like that. If you go into a story expecting to hate it, there is a greater chance that you will. Be open minded and try to enjoy it.

Read Chapter By Chapter

Or section by section. Breaking a book up into smaller pieces makes the whole thing seem so much less intimating, it also helps to ensure that you aren’t overwhelming yourself. Don’t let a big book stress you out and instead set aside a little time each day to devote to reading.

Don’t Break Up Reading

But didn’t you just say-?

Yes, do read the work in smaller sections but don’t split it up into random bits and pieces. I find that reading a certain page amount or for a set time limit, disrupts the flow of the story. You’ll likely end up in awkward places that could make it hard to get back into the book when you go to pick it up again.

Interact With the Text in a Meaningful Way For You

Not everyone is a reader or has hopes of becoming an English professor but we can still learn a lot from books. The thing about reading is that the experience is an extremely personal one. It doesn’t matter what your friend or parent or dog thinks of the book. What does the text mean to you? Maybe you can find just one way, one small little way, that the work connects to you.

Look For Symbolism, Point it Out

I’m serious, that stuff seems to be everywhere. If you think you see it or even if you think you just might-maybe-sort-of-kind-of see it then make a note of it. Chances are you’re right. If you can defend your position and reason for considering something to be a symbol, then a teacher might agree with you. (It is a great way to show you are really analyzing a book, too.)

I hope this advice helps even just a little. Happy reading everyone and have a great summer!

– 7 Billion Words