Pro/Con: Should all John Carroll students be required to complete summer reading assignments?

Kate Gromacki and Cameron Gibson

PRO: Let’s Do It

While Summer Reading assignments may seem like a busy-work burden to students, the teachers here at JC do this for a reason.”There are a lot of studies about turning the brain off during the summer, but we want to keep it active,” said senior English teacher Mrs. Howe. Turning the brain off during the summer is a disservice to yourself.

Why not take advantage of all the extra time to relax and actually enjoy the book? During school we have to maintain a certain pace while reading in order to meet assignment deadlines, take reading checks, and even outline essays. Turn on the audio book, sit back on the beach and read the book. This gives you extra time at the end of the summer, expelling your need to use aids like Schmoop and SparkNotes.

For some English classes this year, students got the chance to choose which book to read for the senior year term paper due later this year.

The purpose of this change was so that students could choose a book from the list that they liked and have ample time to read and comprehend it. If you started one book and found that you didn’t like it, then you had the time to switch to another, a luxury that would not have been available during the school year.

“John Carroll asks a lot from its students, but that’s part of going here,” said Ms. Howe. In other words, the teachers know this is a lot to ask, but they do this in order to make the best use of our time and tuition. Rather than starting a book the first week of school, classes are able to dive right into discussions and value each class meeting with meaning material.

The books assigned by teachers are not normally books high-schoolers would pull off the shelves themselves. These assignments expose students to a variety of different literature that they might even like without knowing it to begin with.

All in all, summer reading is an assignment with a purpose of keeping the brain active during the summer while also allowing class time to cover more material.


CON: Let’s End It

It’s finally summer; time to enjoy your break from the stress and strain of school. However,  with just a week left of summer vacation, you remember you have reading to do.
Like most, you start to stress about getting it done; you rush through the book, sometimes skipping chapters, just so you have enough information to finish the assignment that goes with it.
Chances are you’ve been here; and don’t worry, you’re not alone. Summer reading has long been the most stressful part of students’ summers. Understandably, most students despise this assignment and for good reason.
With summer reading being the source of so much stress for students, it is not hard to wonder why many seem to be opposed to it.
Students are spending the last few weeks of summer worrying about due dates, grades, and schoolwork during a time when they are supposed to have a break from the stresses of school. This creates an understandable bitterness among students towards the summer reading assignments.
Students seem not only to dislike summer reading as a whole but dislike the books they are assigned as well. Some say that the books are boring, hard to read, and overall not fun. This makes students wait until the last minute, and they begin to skim through their books.
Many students do not read the book to do the assignments; instead they look to online resources to help them instead. Websites like Schmoop and SparkNotes have become popular among students to help with summer reading. This defeats the purpose of students being assigned summer reading. Instead of students reading and keeping their minds active, they are using websites instead.
The most effective option would probably be to reward students for reading instead of punishing them for not. We should explore the idea of letting students choose books they are interested in and have them do assignments that go with it.
If we do not change summer reading, the feeling about it will not change, either. Students will continue to despise it, and they will continue not reading the books.