The Tartan

Summer Reading is Beneficial Despite What Students May Think

Posted on: May 15, 2017
Tags: Academics,

by Alli Auel

School may be out for the summer, but many kids are still expected to hit the books. From Alaska to Alabama, school districts around the country have required reading assignments for their students. Starting this Summer, Oak Hills High School is requiring students taking several Advanced Placement courses to participate in summer reading along with the many other schools across the nation. When hearing the news, many Oak Hills High School students have expressed negative thoughts towards the new summer reading requirements. Many students have complained that they simply “won’t have the time” to complete the summer reading assignments, while others say it’s simply “unnecessary.” However, students express all their thoughts without taking the real reasoning behind summer reading into consideration. As many students are unaware, summer reading helps prevent the memory loss of academic material learned during the school year and prepare students for the strenuous years of college that await them.

The importance of summer reading programs has long been established, starting with Barbara Heyns’ seminal study in 1978. The study found that students who participated in a summer reading program dramatically improved or maintained their reading skills. Multiple studies in the years since have confirmed that initial finding.

In a recent study carried out at John Hopkins University, it was concluded that students experience learning and reading loss when they are not taking part in active education. In other words, during the summer months when students are not in school, students typically forget much of what they learned during the school year. One way for students to combat this issue is to participate in summer reading programs. Actually taking advantage of summer reading is an excellent way of forestalling such reading and other academic loss. Therefore, collegebound students, such as advanced placement students, should look at summer reading programs as a tool to better their education. This will serve as a continuation of their academic pursuit.

In addition to bettering the memorization of academic material, summer reading offers a more structured means of continuing a pattern of learning during the summer months. That continuity can smooth the transition from summer to the fall semester. Rather than requiring several weeks to re-adapt to school and its tasks, the summer reader will face only a change in intensity, rather than in type of activity. These weeks of additional engagement can be critical, with an average semester being only 15 weeks long.

While summer reading programs have undeniable benefits, some students still may wonder if these benefits are worth the costs of following such assignments? True downtime is an increasingly precious luxury in our busy world, and summer is an ideal opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. Students can create lasting memories during summer vacation, memories that may be more challenging to create after college graduation. From a practical perspective, there is also value in a refractory period based on the fact that the mind needs time to rest and assimilate the academic year’s content. Also, many students devote their summers to career-building internships, volunteer activities that expand their academic and social horizons, or to employment. In these instances, a summer reading assignment may be just one more demand in an already-strained schedule.

While all of this may be true, if a student is serious about pursuing a higher education and motivated to better themselves academically, they will make time for summer reading. The summer months offer plenty of time to work through the summer reading requirements. Students will have plenty of time to pace themselves and completely soak up the benefits summer reading has to offer.