Research has shown that summer reading increases literacy and improves academic performance. By reading all summer long, students build their vocabulary and stave off the brain-drain that often occurs during summer months. Although most high schools provide summer reading lists for their students, some kids devour all the books the first week school is out (yes! it happens!) and start looking for more to read. Other kids are just searching for some great reading material. And while most reading is gender inclusive, there are certain books that boys find especially compelling.
I usually give my students the Summer Reading Challenge Book List for young adults so they have a wonderful inventory of books to choose from. Students enjoy having a list to work with, and even high schoolers have fun checking off the books they've read. If your teenage boy needs some reading material this summer, look no further than these five crowd-pleasers.
Bang! by Sharon G. Flake is a pretty heavy — but very gripping — book. Mann loses his 7-year-old brother in a drive-by shooting, and, as a result, Mann's father works to toughen his son up by teaching him about and preparing him for the street. The results are absolutely disastrous. The book explores the issues of culture, oppression, and gender, as well as the meaning of manhood among African-American men. Students who want to examine the topic further can get Robert Jagers' Manhood Development in African-American Communities, which looks at the subject from a psychological and sociological perspective.
Any boy who loves baseball will enjoy the interconnected stories that make up the novel The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz. Just like nine innings, the book has nine chapters that show how baseball impacts one family from Brookyn. There is plenty of excitement and social commentary to engage any reader.
There's something cool (pun intended) about reading a book about a blizzard in the middle of summer. Adventure lovers will get chills from Trapped by Michael Northrop, a novel about kids that end up stranded in their high school during the worst blizzard on record. Lots of good interpersonal conflicts abound in this tale of survival.
For boys who enjoy reading books about the supernatural or books that have a fantastical theme, look no further than Doug TenNapel's Ghostopolis. When Garth, who suffers from a incurable disease, ends up on the "other side," he finds himself in possesson of powers that ghosts don't have, and these powers are exploited by the evil ruler of Ghostopolis. Eventually, Garth meets the ghost of his grandfather, and together they work to help Garth return home. Boys love the colorful, graphic-novel format.
Finally, Nothing but the Truth by Avi is a documentary novel that tells the story of a boy who hums during the Pledge of Allegiance in order to get out of homeroom and, hopefully, out of his English class, but ends up finding himself at the center of a national controversy. The novel cleverly unfolds through diary entries, school memos, newspaper articles, and transcripts of speeches, and it addresses issues of patriotism, freedom, and respect.
Summer reading shouldn't be a chore. Kids shouldn't have to slog their way through boring, pedantic books. Instead, summer reading material should be chosen with regard to the interests of teens. Done this way, summer reading helps kids realize that reading is not just something done in school. Rather, they'll realize that reading is a lifelong habit, and that few things are as enjoyable as reading a good book on a warm summer day.
Here in Revere, we have 32 more days till summer vacation (and yes, I'm regretting those five snow days now). Let the countdown to summer begin!