A Tour of Freshman Summer Reading from Various Colleges and Universities
By Kendell Shaffer
Since my kids were in middle school, I made a point to read each book that their teachers assigned. I liked to discuss the books at dinner and I was always curious about a book I hadn’t read. Julie of the Wolves byJean Craighead George was a surprise to me and sticks with me to this day. Learning about wolf packs from the POV of the wolf was something I could only get from this middle grade reader. Once in a while I’d read a book that seemed inappropriate like when Sold by Patricia McCormick was assigned to my sixth grader. Luckily, some of the other parents in the class felt the same way and we were able to discuss our concerns with the teacher before the students took it on themselves.
Summer reading in high school introduced me to some great reads like the tenth grade assignment of Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which my son is reading now. And everyone should have the pleasure of reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon that was assigned to both my kids the summer before ninth grade.
A year ago I read a NYT article about summer reading for college freshman around the country. I was excited to see that summer reading would not go away once college began. I don’t remember being assigned books in summer. Keeping up with the books on this NYT article was a way for me to find books of interest that were contemporary and I was excited to find my daughter assigned two books this summer by her college: Island of a Thousand Mirrors by Nayomi Munaweera and Unflattening by Nick Sousanis. Sydney is loving Island of a Thousand Mirrors and I recently learned that Nayomi Munaweera tours hundred of colleges and will do a reading at my daughter’s school in the fall.
Among the schools asking students to read specific books this summer, I’ve found the following: UC Berkeley – Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (because she will be there in person at her keynote event on August 23); Bard College – Bacchae by Euripides; Wesleyan University – A Body, Undone: Living on After Great Pain by Christina Crosby; Lafayette College – Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.
I’m hoping my daughter will continue to share her reading list with me once she goes to college. It will give me some great reads as well as allowing me to have fun and intellectual discussions with her when she returns home. A shared interest in books can help keep us connected in a familiar way while she’s tucked away at in her new school and I am getting used to my empty nest.