What My School is Reading This Summer

The faculty at my school recommend book circle selections as part of our annual summer reading tradition (photo courtesy: Laura Hahn, LREI).

At the school where I teach, there are two summer reading requirements: one for English class and one for our school-wide book circles.

The first requirement is for our ninth and tenth grade yearlong courses. For students entering our ninth grade World Voices course, Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi, is required.  For sophomores entering our American Dreams, American Experiences course, students read Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried.

The second requirement is my favorite. All of our high school students select another book based on faculty recommendations. Each fall, the entire faculty—yes, that includes science, math, history, English, foreign language, art, music dance, theatre, technology and media teachers—leads a book circle discussion with students who selected the book that teacher recommended. Selections are presented during an assembly in the late spring just before students head off for the summer. Continue reading

Summer Reading Picks Criticized by Conservative “Watchdogs”

In an effort to engage students in a shared reading experience on today's most pressing issues, colleges across the country are assigning summer reading.

I recently wrote a summer reading post for Care2 listing ten must-read books on issues of education and diversity.  One of the comments I received was not typical of all the responses, but certainly echoed the current national backlash against addressing diversity and inclusion in schools and colleges:

Sounds like the bs from the far left progressives, esp. when I hear the prefix ‘trans’ . . . lets [sic] stick to teaching the kids solid basics. This country is becoming more stupid each year and the teachers are to blame.

Sadly, myopic attitudes—whether they be racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, or transphobic, like the one above—about diversity in our schools have become the norm when attacking inclusive education. From Arizona’s banning of ethnic studies to Texas textbooks eliminating the word “slavery” for the term “Triangle Trade,” education is suffering from hateful slings and arrows.

To add further insult to our work as educators, a new study, “Beach Books: What Do Colleges Want Students to Read Outside of Class?,” from the National Association of Scholars “found that 70 percent of the summer reading books assigned to incoming college freshmen in the U.S. show a liberal bias and are not academically challenging.” Continue reading