The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

June 17, 2013

Our View: Summer books shouldn't be all light fare

Why it matters: Challenging reading during the summer can help bring students up to the level they should be.

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This doesn’t mean requiring your teen to tackle Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” and the complete works of William Shakespeare this month. But it does mean encouraging kids to try something that’s beyond their typical selection. Maybe try a Jack London vocabulary-packed adventure novel with the iPad nearby and the dictionary app up and ready for action. Maybe it means downloading “Moby-Dick” with permission to skip the chapter on cetology or measurement of a whale’s skleton.

Educators have a good point when they say they are concerned about how prepared students will be for college-level reading when they aren’t tackling challenging material before they get to college. It’s a great idea to feed kids books that motivate them to read, even if it’s magazines and computer game manuals, but they need to step beyond that comfort level to grow their comprehension and analytical skills. Teachers and parents all need to take that into consideration when helping kids select reading materials for class or for leisure reading.

All of this doesn’t have to be a serious, heavy task. Reading Homer’s Greek epic, “The Odyssey,” can be followed by watching the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” with plenty of opportunity between laughs to find the allusions to the classic.

And after that, it’s to the pool — with a variety of books packed in the beach bag.

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