About a week before the end of school my kids brought home their required summer reading lists. I live for this day, let me tell you. I love poring over their lists and offering mini-reviews to anyone who will listen. Which is pretty much my husband and the dogs, because the kids make themselves scarce at that point.
My younger daughter will start high school in the fall. She’s required to read 4 books for her English class, double the middle school requirement. And the selections are much more challenging and mature — proper, grown-up books, many of which I’d read myself as a 40-something adult. So yes, this was another of those moments when I realized that my little girl was growing up. All students are required to read two books: Cold Sassy Tree, by Olive Ann Burns, and specific sections of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. She also needs to choose one novel and one memoir from a list of about ten titles. For the novel, she chose Child of my Heart, by Alice McDermott. She’s already started one of the memoirs, A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah. She chose that one all by herself, even before I offered up my effusive mini-review. She may also read Falling Leaves, by Adeline Yen Mah, simply because it sounded interesting (that’s my girl!).
My older daughter is entering her final year of high school, and is required to complete summer work in three different courses. Her English class requires 5 books:
- How to Read Literature Like a Professor, by Thomas Foster
- Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood
- 2 other works of fiction, from a list that looks like an abridged version of 1001 Books You Must Read Before you Die
Hubby and I spent a wonderful half hour or so looking over her list of fiction choices, marking our recommendations and engaging in spirited debate over the relative merits of each. We both like The Grapes of Wrath; he likes The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, where I prefer Persuasion. So far the daughter is steering clear of this discussion and remains undecided.
I’m glad both girls are excited about interested in their summer reading. I hope that helps them complete their assignments without too much nagging. I dream of lively family conversation about their books, that continues to foster a love of learning (wish me luck on that). As my older daughter examined her full summer workload she said to me, “It’s not really summer vacation, mom, it’s just slowed-down school.” Welcome to real life, my dear daughter — a life of learning.