Summer camp for book lovers

Great Books Summer Camp introduces young book lovers to literature they would not typically encounter in the classroom.

Melanie Stetson Freeman/Staff
Amherst and Stanford have collaborated to create a unique summer camp for teens who enjoy reading.

By the time most teens graduate from high school, they’ve read a standard, if small, list of classics. If you or yours have graduated from high school, chances are you (or your children) have read most of the following – “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “Of Mice and Men,” “The Catcher in the Rye,” “Animal Farm,” “Lord of the Flies,” “The Great Gatsby,” and “The Scarlet Letter,” among others.

But a lot of good books go unread, a lot of teens don’t read much outside the classroom, and a lot of them don’t read much at all after high school. Throw a lazy summer vacation into the mix and reading comes to a standstill in some homes.

Enter Great Books Summer Camp, a unique summer camp for book lovers. Created for middle- and high-school students, and held at Amherst College and Stanford University, the camp is designed to introduce less-frequently read literature to teens and help them discover critical reading and thinking skills over those long summer breaks.

“Great Books faculty not only stresses the importance of reading but introduces exceptional literature that students wouldn’t typically discover on their own,” says co-founder and academic director Peter Temes.

Mr. Temes says teens aren’t always introduced to a variety of writing – just the same inventory of high school literature. A wider range of works – including more poetry, essays, and foreign works – can expand teens’ literary repertoire and introduce them to new ways of thinking, reading, and writing.

Below, he offers a list of 10 literary works your children probably aren’t reading in school.

“This list offers classic pieces of work that pose challenging questions and help hone students’ critical thinking skills beyond the classroom,” Temes notes.

1. “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman

2. “An American Childhood” by Annie Dillard

3. “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka

4. “Apology” by Plato

5. “The Iliad” by Homer

6. The poems of Sappho

7. “Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood” by Marjane Satrapi

8. The poetry of Pablo Neruda

9. “Gimpel the Fool” by Isaac Baschevis Singer

10. The essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson

-- Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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