By Brennan Seltzer
Photo courtesy of Meghan Aslin
Jeanine Akers, director of libraries, has created a new take on summer reading for SMS students. “One of my goals this year was to really think about reading engagement in the upper school. [...] Everyone is a different kind of reader. There is a lot we can do to make people more enthusiastic about books.”
This summer, St. Mary’s upper school students will have a choice about what books they read. Students can pick a familiar or totally adventurous book. Akers believes that allowing students to make their own choices fosters a love for reading. She said, “A lot of students don’t like to read because they haven’t been able to choose.” The goal of this new program is to make summer reading feel like a worthwhile and entertaining activity.
In addition to students reading something that interests them, research demonstrates that a choice allows students to be more engaged and build consistent reading habits. Akers said, “If we are reading a lot it improves our test scores and GPA. You don’t have to be reading something challenging to reap the benefits.” This new summer reading program creates the opportunity for students to read on their own terms.
In previous years, summer reading books were chosen by the English department. They were usually connected to the content in a class or illustrated a certain message or theme that the teachers believed was important. Many students did not feel motivated to read a book for pleasure because of the daunting required reading.
Akers, working with the English department, has changed the way St. Mary’s will view summer reading for years to come. Summer will become a time to explore the wonderful world of reading. More specific information about the program will be shared on May 12 during chapel.
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