Written by Damon E, Master of Special Projects for Enhanced Prep
Summer vacation presents an excellent opportunity to read some new books. This vacation, in particular, students can sidestep the impact of the Summer Slide in the midst of a pandemic–discussed in last month’s newsletter–by diving into reading.
According to NWEA, the Colorado Department of Education, Library Research Service, and Scholastic, summer reading makes a noticeable difference in the retention of information for students over the summer. Opening a book can also provide a welcome break from the screen-staring and Zoom sessions many students have become accustomed to in the past months, boost vocabulary, and prepare students for tackling complex reading passages on standardized tests like the SAT/ACT.
The Colorado Department of Education says that teens are more likely to read when encouraged by adults, and recommends reading 4-6 books over the summer.
While looking for books to read over the summer, few things could serve high school students better than classic literature. Some students may feel like classics are only meant to be read in English class, but this is far from the case. We are living in a historically significant time, and students may find it interesting and informative to view politics and race relations through a historic lens. Additionally, many books that are considered “classic literature” or “American Classics” include coming of age stories that teens may find relatable to their own growth. We have prepared a list of such relevant classics that students may be interested in reading over the summer.
To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee, 1960. A view of humanity, race, inequality, morality, and family through the eyes of a child.
Moby Dick – Herman Melville, 1851. An oceanic adventure that has themes of racial relations, questioning religion, and how a man may be driven to madness over pursuit of a singular goal.
The Importance of Being Earnest – Oscar Wilde, 1895. A humorous play about creating false identities to get out of obligations. The play satirizes social obligations and cultural customs.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury, 1953. A dystopian novel where literature is banned and burned. Focuses on themes of censorship and the shortcomings and potential dangers of mass-media. In an ironic twist, multiple school districts have banned this book in the past.
The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkein, 1937. One of the greatest fantasy adventures ever written. Themes include personal growth and bravery, as well as greed and selfishness contributing to one’s downfall.
Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes, 1605. A man reads too many stories about knights and decides to become one. Don Quixote himself serves as a caricature of what it means to be chivalrous and knightly.
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley, 1818. Considered by many to be the first science fiction book, Frankenstein follows the creation of a “monster.” The subtitle The Modern Prometheus shows that reaching too far can be man’s downfall. Themes include what it means to be human, as well as the danger of “playing God.”
These are just a tiny sample of the thousands upon thousands of books that could be considered “classic literature.” There are plenty more to check out and get lost in this summer. If you decide to add any of these books to your reading list this summer, let us know what you think!