At the beginning of every school year, my high school English class was packed with sleepy teens, each equipped with new clothes, a driver’s license, and little memory of how to hold a pen, much less write an essay about the joys of Shakespeare. How do you get excited about school after a summer of fun? The key is to read and write during the summer.
I can hear the moaning now… relax! Reading doesn’t have to be a bore or a chore, and writing is one of the most rewarding things you can do with your time. Give these activities a try and you’ll see.
Teen Reading Book Club
Gather together a small party of friends who share a common interest, like graphic novels, science fiction, vampires… even Shakespeare! Develop a list of titles together you want to read and then talk about – jot down titles as you think of them, or use a list of suggested books from your local library. You can also check out the American Library Association lists, which takes some of the work out of your hands, and I’ve made a young adult fiction book list you can use that’s broken down by genre. Decide on a schedule that works best for everyone, and get together informally to discuss what you liked, didn’t like, and your impressions. Believe it or not, this is great practice for school, as it keeps you thinking about the way the books are written, important themes, and gives you practice in sharing your thoughts with others.
Library Scavenger Hunt
Even parents will enjoy this one. Write about a dozen questions that can be answered using the resources available at the library or online at home, using numbers from books, such as ISBN codes or page numbers, and words from book titles and quotes. Have your group work together to answer the questions you’ve provided. This gives scavenger hunters a riddle that, once solved, tells them what prize they’ve won or where to find it. For example, if the prize is a pizza party, have them locate an online pizzeria directory and lead them to the location with your clues. This hones research skills in a fun (and potentially tasty) way.
Book Logs or Reading Journals
You can do this solo, and it’s great for keeping you reading and writing. Select a book that appeals to you — don’t worry whether it’s something you’d read in English class. Keep a notebook with you while you read so you can jot down your feelings, questions, even doodle in the margins. You’ll be surprised when you look back at it how much you interact with what you read. Once you connect with books, they become friends for life.
Read and write during the summer and you’ll have an edge once school starts in the fall. It’ll be easier to tackle the books and writing assignments, and you will feel more comfortable sharing what you know.