I can’t remember a single book I ever read from a mandated summer reading list. I know I did. I know I read lots of books, and I remember being excited to arrive at the library, list in hand, to search through the stacks in hopes of unearthing every single tome. I also remember that our branch on Lexington Avenue the summer before high school was low on what I needed—maybe I turned up 3 or 4 of the 12 or so books on the list—but I can’t remember where I found the rest of the books; I just know that I read every one on that list. And that I enjoyed them all, despite frequently dry-sounding titles. To try to jog my memory, I just searched the list that’s currently posted on my old high school’s website. The Old Man and the Sea? That might have been one even back then. They were probably all classics—a sure bet with a Jesuit education.
I’m thinking about all this as my daughter finishes 7 years of elementary school and tosses herself headlong into summer—and the first requisite summer reading list—before starting middle school. To start, she seemed thoroughly nonplussed at the very idea of a reading list. She consented to read the bare minimum required—3, maybe it was. But as we started to search through the library’s online catalog, her own accumulative book instinct started to kick in and by the time we were done placing holds, we’d placed holds on 8 of 10 books (she already owns the other 2). May the accumulation and reading of a large pile of summer books mean the beginning of a tremendous and wonderful middle school experience! And a vacation full of stimulating ideas. Happy summer all you book lovers!