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High School Summer Reading Assignment

PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 threads Senior Member
edited June 2007 in Parent Cafe
S2's summer (Honors English) reading assignment was just posted on school website. They have to read two books and do a written project on each.
This is to be handed in the first week of school and there are activities/tests on the books to follow during class.

S2 (not a big reader to put it mildly) almost fainted when he saw the first book is "Pride and Prejudice". I was almost on the floor beside him. He will never make it through that book.

We will be renting the movie for sure. Does anybody know if there are "simplified" versions to help with understanding the story? I don't mean Cliff Notes but just an easier to read version.

The other book he has to read is "The Curious Incident of the Dog at Nighttime".
I haven't read it but have been told the general storyline. I think S2 will have an easier time with this one just because it is written in simpler modern language. He just finished AP Psyc. so will prob. find the story of the autistic 15 year old much more interesting than Pride and Prejudice.

If the goal is to keep non-readers reading through the summer, I wish they would assign books they might enjoy. I can't imagine many 18 year old boys thinking Pride and Prejudice would be a great read! How about Harry Potter?

Just when you think school is over and you can relax....ugh

Do your kids all have summer assignments?
edited June 2007
122 replies
Post edited by PackMom on
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Replies to: High School Summer Reading Assignment

  • jmmomjmmom 8916 replies168 threads Senior Member
    If he is in Honors English, I wonder why he would need a simplified version. While choosing something he'd be more likely to *expect* to enjoy is one idea, exposing him to a true classic has its value as well. Maybe you're thinking summer isn't the best time for that.

    I wouldn't rent the movie. Not at all. Have him read a few pages. Then a few more until he's up to about age 25. He might be into it by then.

    If not, I still wouldn't rent the movie or choose a simplified version. Not a great message, imho.

    I admit I truly loved this book. Perhaps it appeals more to females. But I read my share of books I didn't "take to" at all, throughout high school. Ivanhoe anyone?

    I just don't think giving him crutches when he's faced with things he won't enjoy is wise. If he can get the reading for AP Psych, he can handle Jane Austen. Maybe he should focus on figuring out the psyches of the characters.
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  • MarianMarian 13230 replies83 threads Senior Member
    Have him read a few pages. Then a few more until he's up to about age 25.

    This is a lot funnier than you intended. But perhaps true. ;)
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  • jmmomjmmom 8916 replies168 threads Senior Member
    I could fix it, Marian. There's still time to edit. But maybe I should leave it :D.

    Page 25, people. Page 25 is what I meant to say. But Freudian slips do have their value, don't they.
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  • PackMomPackMom 7650 replies17 threads Senior Member
    LOL, it would probably take him until age 25 to read the whole book. He is not in honors english because he is a great english student. He is in it due to the nature the make-up of our high school.

    The regular English classes at our school are filled with kids who can barely read and write. Ours is a very diverse school with fights ocurring daily, students have been held up at knife point in the restrooms, teachers have been assualted. Four teachers have had their cars stolen out of the faculty parking lot this year. At least 10 students cars (including my S's) have been vandalized. The list goes on and on. The majority of the kids involved in all these activities are also in the regular Eng. class.

    Hence to avoid that situation, students like my S who are not great English students but don't want to be a part of all the mayhem all sign up for Honors Eng. That's just how it is.

    My H is a very successful Nuclear Engineer but has never been a big reader, certainly never read much in the way of classics. I have known him since high school so I know this for fact. My S will prob. go to Comm. College after high school, more than likely for a trade of some sort. He is very gifted mechanically. I don't think reading this one book will make or break his life but just know he has to find a way to get through this assignment. That's why I was asking if anyone knew of a simpler version. BTW, as far as I know he did no reading for AP Psyc. except whatever was done in class. Don't think they even used a book. He loved that class.

    I knew I would be criticized as it seems like I'm looking for the easy way out but in this circumstance, we are just looking to survive and advance.
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  • MarianMarian 13230 replies83 threads Senior Member
    You didn't hear it from me, but

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  • dmd77dmd77 8597 replies66 threads Senior Member
    The high school where I sub has everyone read P&P. I was stunned to find out how many of the boys really liked it. (If I have a few minutes left at the end of whatever lesson plan I've got, I usually ask about what they're reading, what they like about it, that kind of thing.)

    I wouldn't assume P&P is too hard for your son. Spark notes are certainly useful, but Jane Austen really isn't that hard.
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  • cathymeecathymee 2350 replies34 threads Senior Member
    I don't see the poblem with renting the movie.Maybe it will spark his interest.The latest version was beautifully filmed.
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  • jmmomjmmom 8916 replies168 threads Senior Member
    Context is everything, PackMom. And now that I hear more about the school and your son's plans, I see where you're coming from.
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  • TheAnalystTheAnalyst 2801 replies13 threads Senior Member
    PackMom, you won't hear any criticism from me. I think there should be some effort to let kids find books that they might actually enjoy, particularly during the summer. Let the kids pick their own books. It hurts me to see my boys assigned book after book in school that they hate, leading to the sad mistaken belief that all books are boring and/or incomprehensible. The older one (age 19) thankfully does now read frequently for pleasure. The first book I remember him actually enjoying was Timeline by Creighton in about 10th grade. He now reads nonfiction almost exclusively, having just finished Honeymoon With My Brother. I'm still working to find titles and genre the 16 year old would read without a gun to his head, but will not give up as long as he lives at home. However, I feel like the school system is my enemy in this effort rather than a partner.
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  • parabellaparabella 532 replies1 threads Member
    If you are planning to rent a movie, I recommend the BBC miniseries, rather than the movie( there is no Kira Knightley there, but more of the spirit of the book IMHO) .
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  • scansmomscansmom 1534 replies19 threads Senior Member
    I think there is a Puffin Classics series version that is designed for young readers, you might want to try finding that one.
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  • fendrockfendrock 2945 replies302 threads Senior Member
    A dissenting opinion here -- I would not have him watch the movie without at least first attempting to read the book.

    It is much harder to read a book when you've already seen the movie and have removed all elements of suspense.

    And it's also a useful exercise to discuss how the book differs from the movie.

    Are you willing to read the book? Maybe it would be helpful to read it together.

    I love this book, so give it a try.
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  • PrincedogPrincedog 736 replies4 threads Member
    I think he can probably get through it and he should probably try, because oftentimes Sparknotes isn't quite enough. Even half reading with help from sparknotes is better.

    He should read the real chapter first and then follow up with the Sparknotes chapter. Or sparknotes chapter first, and then try to read the "real" chapter. Even if he wants to skip through, he'll get a better sequence and "feel" for the book. The thing is, most assignments are going to ask him to point to literary techniques the author uses to achieve an effect. You don't really get that from reading Sparknotes necessarily. Learning to basically cope with the reading even if you decide you can't read the whole thing, but coming up with a technique where you more or less skim it is good practice, because he will likely have to fulfill a general english requirement in college, plus many other classes like in history may contain challenging readings. If you aren't trying to achieve a super A plus and be the best person ever at it, then I fully endorse just doing whatever you have to to get through it enough to achieve minimum competancy. However Sparknotes is not available for a lot of texts and even when it is, on it's own it isn't the best tool. The movie is even worse containing no info at all about the author's literary style and often cuts out large portions.

    Basically coming up with some sort of style and strategy for getting through the reading now, is fine, and a good idea. However that strategy should probably not be Sparknotes and the movie if he hopes to come away with a B. In the high school arena, it may get a low B or a high C, but as things become complicated and sparknotes and a movie are not available, a different strategy will be necessary.
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  • jcll2002jcll2002 1113 replies46 threads Senior Member
    pride and prejudice for the loss...i had to read that last summer

    WELL, I have to do this


    Kite Runner
    the tortilla curtain (essays on both)

    4 chapters of US history book and essay

    havent gotten anything for other classes....yet
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  • doubleplaydoubleplay 3433 replies117 threads Senior Member
    It is ridiculous to assign a book that is obviously more geared toward women than men.
    I'd get the spark notes or cliff notes, have him read a chapter or two of the real book, then read the synopsis so he can understand what he read.
    Tell him not to cheat. It's in his best interest to at least try. Even if he doesn't understand 90% of the real book, he can read the chapter by chapter synopsis in the cliff/spark notes afterwards.
    That's what I did when my sons had to read feminine literature. What's with these teachers??? They can at least find a couple/three choices!!!
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  • PrincedogPrincedog 736 replies4 threads Member
    Well, we have a syllabus that has to get approved by the IBO so there aren't any choices. I didn't like reading Ernest Hemingway but that was life and we read it multiple times. Actually the worst book ever was A Room With a View, which I suppose was geared towards women, I doubt most high schoolers regardless of gender will like P&P all that much but it is a classic and a lot of schools eventually get around to few books like this in their advanced curriculum. Mainly because it provides some overlap in the lessons with history.

    We usually had to read two English books. Between junior and senior year we finish our history internal assessments, which involves reading two books from historians (mine was on Vietnam - A Soldier Reports, and this book by the head of the CIA CORDS operation, I forget what it's called). Actually it got easier because we got new philosophy teachers and we didn't have to read Sophie's World. Our english books weren't too bad because our curriculum is not so Eurocentric esp in the junior year and I prefer that...we did 100 Years of Solitude and Pedro Paramo. This year in the summer we just read Annie Dillard's An American Childhood, they used to do Portrait of the Artist too but for some reason we didn't.
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  • SkieSkie 491 replies6 threads Member
    My son, who is not a big reader, loved The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. You should read it -- it's really wonderful and a very quick read.

    My son had to read P & P for school and belly-ached through the whole first half. When he couldn't take it any more, he rented the movie. But then felt like going back and reading the rest. Ya never know.

    Another vote here for the mini-series over the recent film version.
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  • TooRichForAidTooRichForAid 1018 replies1 threads Senior Member
    Usually the summer reading list has a few books that one can choose from, pick one that he will be able to read. I think renting the movie is defeating the purpose of summer reading list.
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  • garlandgarland 16546 replies206 threads Senior Member
    Definitely the mini-series over the movie, if you're at all interested in the story that JA told.

    I really, really, hope this doesn't degenerate into another girl school/boy school thread! that's been done to death.

    For the record, the biggest fan of P and P in my graduate school class was a guy. As I've said here before, it's only chick lit if you choose to only read it at that level; as a social satire and commentary on the class and economic systems of the time, or as a great psychological study of all kinds of eccentric/neurotic characters, etc, etc, it offers a lot of alternate ways to read it.

    I do understand why he is taking refuge from the bulk of the school by being in Honors (had a similar HS), but once there, he really does need to try to read like an Honors student, whatever his reason for being there, I think.

    I like the idea of reading along with him.
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  • citybirds27citybirds27 445 replies83 threads Member
    im a 16 yearold boy and I didnt even start reading the book before i watched to movie and I got the book after watching it and for the confusing sections just look at sparknotes.. but anyway....

    The curious incident IS AMAZING.. one of my favorite books EVER
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