I’ve always read a lot. Coming from a family of readers, I suppose I couldn’t help it. So the idea of a special reading list for summer never really made a lot of sense. In high school, they would give us one or two novels to read, and we’d have to do a project to show what we had learnt. While I enjoyed the books, I don’t think the projects did me any good. Before I went to Hillsdale we were told we needed to read The Odyssey in preparation for a discussion in the Fall. I remember reading it in the car on the two day drive out out to Michigan. I suppose it was a fitting time to read it, but then I was just focused on finishing it as quickly as I could. Also, I hated Odysseus for being a cheater and a killer. In fact, I still hate Odysseus for being a cheater and a killer.
This summer, though, I have a different kind of a summer reading list. One of the things that I started doing towards the end of the year that really got my kids excited about reading was reading the books that they were reading. Considering my favorite kinds of book are looooong, Victorian novels replete with spinster aunts, named houses, oddball characters, and a slow-moving plot the switch over to YA fiction was tough at first. So far this year I’ve read The Hunger Games series (which I loved), The Ranger’s Apprentice (rip-off of LotR), and The False Prince (think The Hunger Games meets The Prince and the Pauper with a really odd twist that left me puzzled). As we neared the close of the school year, I had students leave me with their summer reading picks. In the notebook there is a line for a reason to read this book. The reason that most of them left: it’s a series. My favorite told me that not only was this book one of a series, but the author had written multiple series. Telling me that a book is one of a series does not make me want to read it! But we see things differently.
Other summer reading includes The Seven Laws of Teaching (given to us by our Director of Instructional Philosophy), The Emerging Self (given to me by my teaching mentor), One Thousand Gifts (lent to me by my mother), and last but not least this is the summer that I read Les Misérables. It’s a beast of a book, but why read a short, concise book when you can read a long, meandering book? I feel a little bit like I’m being unfaithful to Dickens (I’ve spent the last three summer absorbed in a Dickens novel), but then I reminded myself that I’m listening to 36 hours of Little Dorrit this summer.
I also plan on listening to the new Richard Ford book and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everybody Hanging out with Me?
In other news, I haven’t been call Miss/Ms./Mrs. Kjergaard for over a week, and I’m really starting to miss it. Yesterday I happened to run into one of my favorite students (this kid should be president). Already he seemed like he’d grown so much. In a week. Teaching makes me feel old.