It depends on whom you ask. If you’re a small child, it’s something you need in order to avoid the summer slide, a term referring to skills learned during the school year that can be lost over the summer. If you’re a teenager, summer reading is the assignment you put off until the week before the new school years starts (oops!). If you’re an adult and eager to relax on a beach somewhere in a tropical paradise (or maybe just Ocean City, MD), they’re the books you want with you that don’t require too much thought. Or perhaps you’re ambitious and want to catch up on the classics you were supposed to read during high school, but didn’t.
The Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSPL) is a coalition of states working together to provide top-notch summer reading materials for children of all ages, teenagers, and adults for public libraries at the lowest possible cost. Summer programs offered through the public libraries are what most children from low-income families depend on if they hope to avoid the summer slide. Libraries (and even bookstores) provide great activities for children and families to participate in over the summer, so they’re learning while fostering a sense of community.
All summer long Barnes & Noble has had a “Popular Summer Reading Picks” display in their stores and online where classics such as George Orwell’s 1984 and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies are available at 20% off. This is a clever tactic, as it will remind teenagers of their summer reading assignments during these final weeks before the new school year begins, while also prompting adults to recall if now would be a good time to catch up on the classics they missed. This ploy worked on my 25-year-old self; I bought both 1984 and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
The heat and humidity must be contributing factors in adults wanting to have “easy reads” on the beach during vacation—a mindless book they can enjoy with a cacophony of outdoor noises surrounding them. If adults (and kids) want something even simpler than a mass market paperback, they could always try an audiobook on CD in their car, an eBook available for download on their digital devices, or a graphic novel for the first time. More and more graphic novels are educational, such as John Lewis’ March trilogy and Marjane Satrapi’s The Complete Persepolis.
As summer begins to wind down, and we begin to adjust to the cooler weather that comes with the autumn months, we’ll need books to keep us company. And in our next literary blog post, we’ll have a guest blogger provide us with some hot new fall releases! Stay tuned!
The opinions expressed by guest contributors to the Maryland Humanities blog do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of Maryland Humanities and/or any of its sponsors, partners, or funders. No official endorsement by any of these institutions should be inferred.