Summer reading changes aim to increase student participation

Summer reading changes aim to increase student participation

Sophomores Kayla Bynion and Erika Lipford peruse two possibilities for summer reading books for next year. This year, a committee of teachers and student volunteers are selecting a variety of books that are more appealing to students.

Kailey Tracy, Copy Editor

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, three students and two faculty members sat in the library classroom with one goal in mind: to formulate a summer reading program that would appeal to the majority of students and increase school-wide involvement.

Although the meeting was advertised in the Daily Bulletin, three students, all sophomores, voiced their input regarding the summer reading book.

“I hope that more people get involved and participate.  I’ve heard a lot of comments and complaints about previous summer reading books, so it was disappointing to see that not many students wanted to come to the meeting and actually try to do something about it,” Library Media Specialist Theresa Burlas said.

In previous years, departments took turns selecting the summer reading book, but this year, the administration decided to create a collection of faculty members who would “determine how we would proceed with summer reading,” according to Burlas.  The committee consists of foreign language Department Chair Danica Attanasio, English teachers Matthew Blair and Eric Sutton, foreign language teacher Ashleigh Stall, and religion teacher Rachel Harkins.

Student input is the main point of the new summer reading selection process.  Those who attended the meeting will aid in narrowing down the list of books that the committee has chosen.  These books include “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” by Mark Haddon, “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein,  and “Heaven is for Real” by Todd Burpo.  In order to pare down the list of books, Burlas asked each student that came to the meeting to read at least one of the books over Christmas break.  Upon returning to school, another meeting will be held to discuss each book, deciding if it would be a good fit for the summer reading choice.

After the list of books has been narrowed down, it will be presented to the student body, and each student can choose which book they wish to read.  According to Burlas, the committee is aiming to have a list of approximately five books from which students can choose.  “In a committee meeting, the idea of giving students a choice between several books was discussed and the group agreed that it was worth trying instead of going with one book like in previous years,” Burlas said.

The committee is still working out the logistics as far as each assignment and the assembly, but ensures there will still be an assignment.  According to Burlas and Attanasio, students will most likely be split into groups depending on which book they read to discuss it.  At an assembly in the spring, the committee hopes to have students present each book to the school, but hasn’t figured out the details yet.

The three sophomores that attended the meeting appeared to have parallel outlooks predicting how giving students a choice will affect the outcome of the summer reading experience as a whole.

“I came because I like to read and I like to have discussions with my friends about books.  This can improve all around school because it will give more people a chance to like what they are doing and reading,” sophomore Mitchell Russell said.

“Hopefully more people will read the book and will read something that they are more interested in.  This may inspire them to read more,” sophomore Sydney Setree said.

“As far as how I think it will improve it [the summer reading program], it will not be able to get everyone to read it, but if they are more interested in it, and it’s relatable to them, hopefully they will be able to read it,” sophomore Ashley Bain said.

In addition to the books that the faculty has chosen, the committee is open to other suggestions.  If interested, simply email the title and a short description of why the book would be a good choice to Burlas at [email protected].

“We would love to have more students join us in helping with this project.  We are looking for students from all grade levels and we welcome their input.  I hope that students continue to voice their opinions and concerns so that we can make sure we have selected great books that students are going to read,” Burlas said.

 Kailey Tracy is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and