Summer Reading: Do the Majority of Students Actually Do it?

Photo credit to Ayla Safran, '15
Photo credit to Ayla Safran, ’15

Reham Ahmed, ’16

We all know what it’s like to get summer reading, but how many of us actually do it? Teachers have long thought summer reading to be successful enough that it is assigned year after year. Not only are students assigned which book they have to read, but they are expected to read it carefully during their summer break – those two months of the year in which students should instead be soaking in the harmful rays of the sun on a sandy beach. When teachers assign such readings, they feel that most students will do it, because it’s an assignment and it’s actually required. But do the students actually do the reading? What is the correlation between grade level and completing the summer reading?

Twenty-four random 9th graders were briefly interviewed, and the results showed that a shocking 23 out of the 24 actually did their summer reading. After interviewing nineteen 10th graders, it was evident that only 11 out of 19 did their summer reading. Two 10th graders were clueless that there was a summer reading, while the rest just felt “too lazy” to do the reading. Year 2’s denied that they had any summer reading and some also added that they never received any summer reading during their first three years at BHSEC!

The trend line for the results of this survey became very clear once I interviewed sixteen Year 1’s and only 25% of them had done their summer assignment. These four students said that they had a habit of doing the homework over the summer because it helps with in-class discussions and helps them write essays on the reading. The twelve no-homework-doers said that their teachers are nice and make them “reread” sections of the book during the 1st school week to “refresh  [the students’] memories.”

Only 4% of the 9th graders interviewed didn’t do their summer readings while 75% of the Year 1’s interviewed fell in the same category. It seems that your grade level ultimately determines the answer to the question, “Should I do my summer reading, or should I lay it off until the start of the school year, or even better, should I never do it?”

Ninth graders are new to BHSEC and the summer reading system. Clueless about the teachers they will get, and mystified by the system that this school follows, most of the ninth graders tend to do their homework to start off the school year fresh and risk free.  Also, they are “fresh”-men: they don’t know what to expect from high school, so they probably forcibly sit themselves down to the reading in order to create a good first impression. The 10th grade students are also sort of new but generally accustomed to BHSEC and to most of the teachers. Most do the homework to avoid any risk.  But a little less than 50% of the interviewees didn’t do the homework, because they are either already familiarized with how seriously summer reading are taken at BHSEC, or because they are just too lazy and love to procrastinate knowing that they can skim the reading on the train on the first day of school. The Year 1 results only reaffirm this trend. A whopping 75% of the interviewees didn’t bother to do the summer reading or weren’t even aware that there was summer reading. This makes the Year 1’s seem like “rapidly maturing adults” who to some extent are “too cool for school” or maybe just homework in general.

Many teachers decide that they should let their students reread the summer reading during the first week of school to refresh their minds. However, for students, this acts as a deterrent to completing the readings in the first place.  

Obviously there is some margin of error for these results. When I interviewed all these students, I discovered that many of them may have been stretching the truth into a little white lie because they feared that this survey might act against them in some way (even though I made it clear that this was an anonymous survey). While these results also do not incorporate all of the BHSEC population, they are a clear indicator of upperclassmen’s lack of motivation to do the summer reading.

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