Getting a jump-start on summer reading

Summer's here and for many young people it's time to head to the pool, get ready for camp, or gear up for a job. Or start reading.

It used to be just prep schools that required summer reading, but reading lists are becoming common for public and parochial schools at both elementary and secondary levels. All over the United States, more teachers are expecting students to put in some book time during their time off.

The choice may be up to the students - schools simply provide a list of recommended titles. Or the school might require several books. Most students can expect to take a quiz or do a book report in September. Even some history, science, and PE classes give assignments. The goal: to keep kids' minds engaged during the long break.

While some bookworms may relish the chance to get caught up on their favorite authors, for other kids reading is the last thing on their mind when warm weather hits. Here are a few suggestions to help get the assignment done - and make it fun.

1. Divide and conquer. Basically, space out your reading. Divide the number of pages by the number of weeks to arrive at a specific goal, or simply revisit your list every few weeks.

According to Linda Waddle at the American Library Association (ALA), adults can help. "If [students] have a reading list, a parent or teacher can help them find their daily reading average [and] diagnose where there is some time," she says.

2. Use your local library. Libraries are terrific resources. Many have summer reading clubs or book-discussion groups, designed to keep reading fun. They often give prizes for the books read.

3. Keep a book with you. You never know when you'll find some down time - on the bus, at the beach, waiting for the dentist. The ALA suggests reading in small bites: 10 minutes on the bus both ways, 15 minutes before going to sleep, 10 minutes waiting for a ride, and you've clocked 45 minutes of reading time.

4. Pick something you'll enjoy. Most schools give students some freedom to choose. According to Ms. Waddle, "self-selection is key. [Students] need to read something they're passionate about." Ultimately, she says, "we're all looking for beach books, even when we're reading the classics - we want books to entertain us, fulfill us."

Need help finding a book? Check out or ask your local library for recommendations - and then turn those pages!

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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