For students, an ideal summer is made up of hanging out by the pool, trips to the beach, video games, shopping at the mall and most importantly, absolutely no school! While we highly recommend students spending at least some of their summer maintaining skills or preparing for the new school year with summer classes there is also another way to make sure you are not falling behind over the summer: summer reading.
So why bother reading over the summer? What’s the point? You spend the whole school year reading book after book. Summer is the time for relaxing. Well, before you completely abandon any thought of school, hear me out. You might reconsider allocating at least some of your time to your next favorite book!
#1 – Avoid Summer Learning Loss
Think about it, you have just spent nine months of your life dedicated to learning. Remember all those all-nighter’s, last minute, frantic papers, never-ending tests and hard work you have put into the pursuit of learning. One of the greatest reasons for reading over the summer is to ensure all of that effort is not lost. Studies show that over the summer “the average learning loss in math and reading for American students amounts to one month per year” (New York Times).
Reading keeps your mind active. While spending lazy summer days by the pool sounds ideal, you are not doing yourself any favors for the upcoming school year. We are not saying, don’t take some time off. We are just suggesting that you need to keep learning over the summer to avoid losing some of your hard-earned education. Reading is one way to do this! And hey, you can even do it laying out by the pool!
#2 – Increase Vocabulary
One of the biggest challenges for students who struggle to comprehend what they are reading is vocabulary. Much of the texts you will encounter over the school year contains advanced vocabulary. Reading exposes you to brand new words that will help you with future reading, but will also increase your vocabulary skills when it is time to write your essays.
Additionally, come test time, school tests but especially ACT and SAT tests, you will have a larger vocabulary arsenal at your disposal. Also, when reading you learn how to use context clues in order to determine the rough definition of a new word. Another crucial skill come test-taking time.
#3- Obtain Analysis Skills
The ability to analyze, to find the deeper meaning, behind the words you read is a necessary skill for your high school education and beyond. Practice makes perfect. And the more time you take to read, the more naturally analysis will come to you when it is time to analyze those pesky classics during the school year.
Analysis also plays an important role in your everyday life. Ninety-three percent of communication is nonverbal – body language and the tone in one’s voice. (Philip Yaffe). Which means that what a person does facially, physically, and the inflection in their voice is far more telling that what they actually say. We must be able to analyze in order to determine the deeper meaning behind the action’s of others and what is being said. This will put you at a great advantage in your personal life, school life, and work life.
#4 – Improve Writing
Famous American writer, William Faulkner once said, “Read, read, read. Read everything…just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master” (Shortlist). Writers need to read. Why? Because that is how they learn to write.
Perhaps you struggle with writing description – read a writer who is a master of descriptive writing like Margaret Mitchell. Check out this excerpt from her well-known book, Gone with the Wind:
“Spring had come early that year, with warm quick rains and sudden frothing of pink peach blossoms and dogwood dappling with white stars the dark river swamp and far-off hills…The whitewashed brick plantation house seemed an island set in a wild red sea, a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified suddenly at the moment when the pink-tipped waves were breaking into surf.”
Or maybe writing an argument is your biggest challenge – find a well-argued essay or speech like Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. Notice what he writes here:
“We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say “wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim… then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” (Source)
Taking in excellent writing will most definitely improve yours.
#5 – Read What You Want
One of the irritating aspects of reading during the school year is that you are forced to read the assigned texts. You have no say in what you will be spending hours studying and learning about. Reading over the summer means you get to read about whatever you want! You are in control, so go out and find your next favorite book.
#6 – Relax!
Summer is all about relaxing. Reading seems like the opposite of relaxing. But guess what? According to recent research, “Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds” (Source).
Even just a little bit of reading can significantly reduce stress. While school reading may be stressful, summer reading certainly is not.
So in between video games and the beach (or why not at the beach?) crack open a book. Summer reading is calling!
Copyright Oxford Tutoring 2016