Summer Reading, The Minimum Requirements

Harry Potter's Hermione Granger, an excellent student.

Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger, an excellent student.

As my children peruse the Summer Reading list I notice the difference between the Honors classes and the next level down, College Prep.  An overwhelming majority of the children from my kids’ school go to four year colleges, so it’s not a a matter of college bound versus non-college bound education, but the distinction in the assignments leaves a chasm.

For example, the Honors students must read two particular books.  The College Prep classes must only read one of them.

Reading almost anything over the Summer is good, though I understand why certain books should be required.  But let’s look at it from a kid’s point of view.  My daughter, for example, only sees this:

“So I only have to read one book, right?”

That’s it.  She’s read other books over the Summer for pleasure, but she sees no reason to consider reading anything on the school’s  list of recommended reads because, as it says in black and white, she only is required to read one book.  When I suggested that she could read another book on the list, her response was, “No, that’s for Honors class.”

“You could still read it,”  I suggested.

“No, that’s for Honors class.”

Well, there you go.

The result is that certain books are viewed by the college prep students as only for the Honors kids — even though all the kids are preparing for college.

Another result is that the “Honors” students read more, which helps them — more.   It doesn’t sit right with me.

Yet another result is that non-Honors students are discouraged not only from reading more than one book, but from being an Honors student at all.   To some kids, the difference in the requirements leads to the opinion,

“Why would I want to be in Honors?  They have to do more work.”

Wouldn’t it make sense to require either the same books or the same number of books from the recommended list?

Instead, the requirement  teaches my child to do the bare minimum, which, for her,  is just one book.

It just looks bad, Honors Students: two books, Everybody else: one book.   My kid is perfectly capable of reading two books assigned to her.  You don’t have to be in Honors to do that.

It should be two, two books for everyone, at least.

As a parent I encourage and reward reading and other academic work, but as a parent of a teen, I could use some help.  Somebody other than me needs to tell her.  If they had told her to read two books from a recommended list, I guarantee she would have done it.

Oh well, she might have liked Life of Pi.  Too bad she may never know.

Life of Pi

Life of Pi

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