By Freya Sachs '00, HS English Teacher & Department Chair
You can imagine, each spring, the English Department gathered, starting our conversation about summer reading, and the many books we are excited about, that we think our students might also enjoy. Each year, we come up with ideas based on our own reading lives; ask students for input of their favorite, recent reads; get great suggestions from our librarians. We work to come up with wide ranging lists of texts, hoping each student can find books they will enjoy. There are so many books we love, or that our students might love, that can’t fit in the confines of the academic calendar — so, here they are, just waiting for you this summer. Research shows, after all, that the best way to grow as learners is to grow as active, engaged, consistent readers.
So, why do we ask students to do this summer reading thing at all? The response, of its necessity and importance, was evident. We believe that reading is the key to growth — as humans, learners, citizens. Our department has worked, and will continue to work, to create reading lists that allow each student to not only see characters like themselves, but also to find moments and texts that enable them to read with empathy and discover experiences of others; we strive to have a range of texts in terms of subject, challenge, and interest; we want summer reading to be enjoyable, interesting, fun.
This year students have been at the center of our summer reading process, in a new way: last summer, Oscar Fox ’21, Student Council President at the time, came to me with an idea for an all school read. Since, he and his peers have led a robust process from the why to the what to the how, and High School summer reading now includes this student lead endeavor. Additionally, the English department, when putting out a call for ideas for the General Lists for High School students, asked for students to share their ideas and suggestions, and we are so glad to have the opportunity to include many of their ideas.
So, consider this an invitation to take a break from our moment and enter another, to find experiences that help us understand our own, that deepen our understanding of the world we inhabit — or of another, imagined, world entirely. If you need help finding books you might enjoy, ask your teacher, our librarians, friends — and look for opportunities to share what we are reading, what inspires us, on the horizon.