So, you’ve been enjoying a leisurely summer; hanging out with friends, perhaps kicking around a soccer ball, indulging in a little barbeque, catching up on the latest season of Mad Men, etc. Unfortunately, though it pains us to say this, vacation is quickly winding down. All too soon you’ll be back to setting your alarm, lugging around your textbooks and sharpening your number two pencils. This also means that if you’ve been lax about taking on your summer reading list, it’s time to kick it into high gear. Before you panic and simply flip to the last page of every book, think about following these tips instead:
Break it Down If you still have a number of books to get through, it would behoove you to tally the exact page count. We then suggest adding up the remaining days of your summer holiday. Break out the calculator and do a little division to figure out how many pages you’ll need to read each day (at minimum) before school begins. By figuring out a daily goal, the assignment will seem less daunting. Plus, if you parse out your time accordingly, you’ll still be able to squeeze in some much desired relaxing.
Build Your Personal Library If you can afford to do so, purchase copies of the books assigned. This way you can freely underline paragraphs, take notes in the margins, circle vocabulary words, etc. If you fully engage with the text, you’re more likely to absorb the story, themes and characters. This will leave you more prepared for any upcoming classroom discussions or papers.
Claim the Comfy Couch Don’t make plans to meet up with some friends at the mall and fool yourself into thinking you’ll whip out your book in between trying on jeans. Instead, find a comfortable spot that’s quiet and conducive to reading. It doesn’t matter where it is; you could sprawl out in your den, at a local park or even head to the beach. Simply choose a spot where you won’t be distracted. Who knows, you might even discover you enjoy yourself!
Create a Club We’re going to assume that you’re not the only kid in your school assigned a summer reading list. Reach out to your friends. See how far along they are. Suggest meeting periodically to discuss what you’ve read. By creating a book club, you can motivate each other, gain greater insight into each book and even turn reading into a social event.
Resist the Allure of Cliff Notes All right – so this might not be a tip for how to get your reading done exactly. However, we still feel that it’s imperative to stress that you shouldn’t rely on Cliff Notes (or Wikipedia synopses or any other shortcut). To begin with, by taking the easy way out, you won’t get to experience the author’s unique writing style and use of language. You’ll miss out on subtle character traits and foibles. You’re also more likely to only have, at best, a tenuous grasp on any themes and symbols presented in the book. In short, you’re denying yourself the opportunity to enjoy and appreciate both the story and reading at large. Further, reading introduces you to new vocabulary words and actually strengthens your writing skills. Finally, we hate to tell you this but it’s often obvious to teachers who did the reading and who attempted to take the easy way out.
Summer reading isn’t meant to be a punishment. It’s a way to keep your mind active and alert during the lazy days of your extended vacation. Instead of procrastinating, make the decision to (finally) dive right in. Trust us, you’ll experience the satisfaction that comes with being productive and you might even get lost in the story!