Lakeside Middle School English teachers and librarians are rolling out a summer reading program, strongly recommending that student read at least three books over the summer. “While we know that some students already have the reading habit, many are succumbing to the lure of the digital rabbit hole and forgetting about books, particularly in the 7th and 8th grades,” they wrote in a letter to parents and guardians.
Recommended books can be found on the Middle School library webpage as well as in pdf format on the parents and guardians webpage under “Important Documents.” Students may read books from these lists or another source as long as the books are of a comparable reading level.
The letter from teachers shared a selection of data that demonstrates that “this generation of students is experiencing a seismic shift in the way that they entertain themselves.” They shared the following points:
- The American Psychological Association has been conducting an annual survey of 50,000 students in grades 8-12 since the early 1970s. The numbers show that the percentage of 12th graders who read a book or a magazine every day has declined from 60% in the late 1970s to 16% by 2016. Conversely, 80% of students report using social media every day. Usage rates and increases were uniform across gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.
- Teens are reading, but they’re reading short texts and Instagram captions, not longform articles that require critical thinking. Screen-based reading is characterized by browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, and nonlinear movement through the text. Online readers demonstrate decreased sustained attention for longer texts.
- A meta-analysis conducted by the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English shows that “leisure reading” helps students develop the sustained attention and focus that is beneficial for problem solving and analysis. Also, students who read find school easier, have a more positive attitude about school, are better writers, have stronger vocabularies, have better grammar, and have an intuitive understanding of syntax. Students who read recreationally perform better on standardized tests.
- Reading is healthy. One study showed that reading reduces stress by 68% and is more effective for stress reduction than listening to music, having a cup of tea, or taking a walk.
- Reading fiction builds empathy. As Carol Jago, a past president of the National Council of English Teachers reports, “We are living in an increasingly polarized world. Books offer access to lives and stories outside of the boundaries of our limited first-hand experience.”
- The world’s largest study of K-12 reading habits found that “six extra minutes of reading per day can turn a struggling reader into one who meets or surpasses their grade’s benchmark.” … Recreational reading keeps students in condition for school.
Students and faculty will be informally discussing summer reading when students return to school in the fall.