How to Survive your Summer Reading Assignments

By Kathy Peters, Director of Junior High Academics & Advising

1. START NOW! Do not put this off until the last minute. Resolve to read at least 20 pages a day, or for 20 minutes a day until you have finished. Make a daily reading plan or calendar and hang it on your bathroom mirror or refrigerator so you will see it every day.

2. If you really dislike reading here are some things to try:

  • Get an app like Audible and listen to the books you are required to read.
  • Partner up with a friend and read together.
  • Set a timer for 20 minutes; read, and then reward yourself with something you like after you finish. (favorite snack or drink, screen time or outside fun)
  • Start a literary circle or friendly competition with a group of friends. Meet at a fun place like Starbucks or the beach to read and discuss the books.
  • Ask a parent, grandparent or older sibling to read along with you.
  • Go online to look at reviews, summaries and videos before you start reading to help you understand what the required book or books will be about.

3. If you love to read and are a fast reader, you will likely gobble up any required books quickly, and have no trouble completing any additional or supplemental books. This is fine, but you will need to go back right before school starts and skim through the required books again as you review and take some detailed notes. It is wise for all of us to adjust our reading rate to a slower, steadier pace when we are reading material that we will be tested on or will have to write about.

4. Take notes! Write down names of important people and places, key points and main events as you read. Nonfiction required books are usually full of names, dates, places and details. If you own the book, underline and mark up the book as you go. I usually jot down page numbers of significant plot events on the last page of the book to refer back to. If you don’t own the book, make notes on paper as you go. Details are important and you will need supporting textual examples to respond to in class discussions, and on any written assessment about the book. Don’t worry about trivial things like the color of someone’s shirt. Note details that will support the ideas that you are developing about the main character, where the plot is going and how the author is using literary devices to keep you hooked and reading.

5. For fictional books, your notes should track significant developments in the plot, (what happened?) attributes or thoughts of the main character (how the character responds), and the use of literary devices to drive or develop the plot. (Examples of symbolism, foreshadowing, metaphor, etc.) Also, talk back to the book, and make note of your questions. Talk to your friends about the book. We all respond to literature in different ways and take away different things from what we are reading.

6. Be sure you can answer these questions about fictional books:

  • Setting: where/when does the book take place?
  • Main character (s): Protagonist (force for good) and antagonist  (force for evil)
  • Major plot events: big events that move the book forward
  • Main conflict in the story: between people? Forces in nature? With an animal, place or object?  Within the character’s own mind?
  • Climax or turning point in the book –peak of the action
  • Resolution- solution to the conflict or problem

7. Consider keeping a double entry journal that will help you recall details and support points you make if you are asked to write an essay. Here is a format to use:

Quote or fact from book Page number Your comment, thoughts or response
“After the stroke of midnight, all that the Prince could find that remained of the beautiful Cinderella was one glass slipper.” p. 11 Will he be able to use it to find her?

If it was really a glass slipper, why didn’t it break when it fell off?

Building materials: hay, straw, sticks, bricks p.14 Wolf lacked enough lung power to blow down the brick home

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