Determined to cultivate a culture of readers, the Elk Grove High School faculty set out to change summer reading in the spring of 2015. The end result gave returning students more choice in what they wanted to read over the summer. The selections included: “Into the Beautiful North,” “Before I Fall,” “Lone Survivor,” “Eleanor and Park,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Legend.”
“In the past, some of our students have said they didn’t do their summer reading. They’ve said that they don’t enjoy reading,” English/Fine Arts division head Wendy Relich said. “Our goal was to find a way to make reading fun [and] to make it a school wide focus.”
According to English teacher Matt Snow, the two most chosen books were “Eleanor and Park” and “Legend.” Since each book was marketed to a different demographic, “Legend” was considered the default choice for students that didn’t know which book they wanted to read.
“Almost every kid read which is a huge success compared to years past,” Snow said. “I think each book really appealed to teens. “Eleanor and Park” definitely appealed to the teen romance genre.”
Student consensus has generally been positive, and according to Relich, the test scores are confirming that.
“I think not being pressured into just one book helped a lot,” senior Elizabeth Branske said. “You could read something that you’re actually interested in instead of just what the teacher assigns.”
Currently, plans are in the works to change reading further.
“There’s been talk about doing ‘stop, drop and read’ in May, where everyone in the building reads for five minutes,” Snow said. “That would be right around the time of everyone getting their summer reading book.”
Students have been giving feedback on what they think should be enhanced in the future as well. Sophomore Oscar Gonzalez believes there needs to be more time spent discussing the book in class before the test.
“Giving students more choice, taking more time to talk about it in class to talk about summer reading all sets up this idea that summer reading is fun,” Relich said.