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Topic: Back to School

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Subject: Back to School
Date Posted: 9/10/2007 10:16 AM ET
Member Since: 7/17/2005
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The kids have all headed back to school for another exciting year of learning. We all remember getting the Summer Reading Lists, usually with mixed emotions. What book really stands out as one that had a big impact on your young life, or on the other hand, what book made you wonder "Why in the world are they making me read this!?"

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Date Posted: 9/10/2007 1:08 PM ET
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I never had a summer reading list...I will say that I think teachers and school districts need to update their required reading.  I understand that kids should read classics but many of them are just so hard to get through when you are younger...I have reread some of the books that I was forced to read in school and I've found that they are much better the second go round - I just didn't get them back then.  I think that by picking more current books teachers may also have a shot at getting the kids to actually read the book instead of the cliff notes - just my $.02

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Date Posted: 9/10/2007 1:12 PM ET
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I remember having to read The Outsiders. It made a huge impact on me. I still own a copy. My teacher also made us read Sounder. I remember thinking "WHY?"--Jody

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Date Posted: 9/10/2007 1:20 PM ET
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The school we enrolled our son in for high school has a great summer reading list, can't wait to see it next summer.  But what I really love about his new school is that the whole school reads for an hour everyday!!  I mean everyone does.  the cooks, the janitors, vistors, the principle, and the super ( his office is at the high school).  It is so cool that everyone does.  Most of the schools in the Valley do that, it is good for the students of all ages to see people reading.  It does not have to be books, it can be comics, graphic novels, magazines, ect.  I am glad that they encourge the kids to do that.

My  why? book,  The Jungle!!  I had to read that book from 8th grade until I was in 11 th grade, every summer.  We would complain we read it the summer before but always a different teacher made us read it.   Mom made me read it every summer.

Last Edited on: 9/10/07 1:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
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Date Posted: 9/10/2007 7:04 PM ET
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I never had a summer reading list.  Wished I did have a list when I was younger.  Even as a child I enjoyed reading.  When my kids were in school, they had reading lists.  The books always looked so good that I read them also.  The book that really stayed with me is: On The Beach.  I don't remember the author's name.  That book really made you think and was a little scary.  I will never forget that book.

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Date Posted: 9/10/2007 9:26 PM ET
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I remember that book "On the Beach".  Wasn't that about a nuclear holocaust with Australia being one of the last places where humans could survive?  If it's the same,  I haven't thought of that book in years but would love to read it again. 

I don't remember having summer lists personally, but both my sons have had summer reading lists every year from middle school on.  My youngest hates to read.  I wish there was a way to get him to actually enjoy it.  He won't read for enjoyment (except for Harry Potter).


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Date Posted: 9/10/2007 9:58 PM ET
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We didn't have summer reading lists, so I had to make do with what I could find around the house...I remember reading The Outsiders in HS more than once...I really loved it and I also remember reading In Cold Blood -it really made an impact on me


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Date Posted: 9/11/2007 12:37 AM ET
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We never had summer lists either, but they just said they would like us to read.  I suppose for some kids that was a pain, but I always liked to read.

I really loved it when we were made to read The Pigman.  The teacher really talked about being different and turned it into a lesson.

As for why books,I felt that way about most of them. lol

ETA: I'm enjoying reading with my son for school, even though he's 8 and hasn't started reading the bigger books yet.  It's fun to see through his eyes how he feels about certain stories and his feelings about them.  He is really into anything funny.


Last Edited on: 9/11/07 12:39 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
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Date Posted: 9/11/2007 12:55 AM ET
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No summer reading lists, where I come from either but I LOVED reading from when I was a toddler and I had to be literally pried loose from books all year around. Since there was no list, I read whatever I could lay my hands on. I was 11 and about 50 pages into volume I of Winston Churchill's war memoir when I asked myself why I was reading it. :) I never did go back and read that.


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Date Posted: 9/11/2007 10:17 AM ET
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The book that really stood out for me was "Are you there God, it's me Margaret" was one of my favorite books that I read over and over by Judy Blume. After reading that book, she immediately became my favorite author and I've read almost all of her books. I recently read it again and my friend gave me a copy of it to keep. Now it's on my bookshelf.

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Date Posted: 9/11/2007 11:21 AM ET
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I remember Catcher in the Rye and I wonder why they make kids read it. The book is so depressing and I truly believe it is a bad choice for teenagers who are already going through one of the most angst-filled periods of their lives. I know at least one person who was almost pushed over the edge into suicide after reading it and I'm sure she wasn't the only one. Actually I don't like anything Salinger has written and I certainly don't believe any of his books are appropriate for young people.

The Hobbit/The Lord of the Rings and the Pern books by Anne McCaffrey were probably my favorite books as a teenager, but they weren't something we ever studied. In fact I got in trouble with my senior English teacher for writing an essay on The Hobbit, just because it wasn't on the required reading list.

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Date Posted: 9/12/2007 7:27 AM ET
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Never had a summer reading list but I drove my Mother crazy wanting to go to the library.  We'd go and I'd bring home a stack of books.  Just a few days later I needed to go back for more..........

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Date Posted: 9/12/2007 10:37 AM ET
Member Since: 9/1/2007
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The one book in my school times that stood out the most for me in my younger school years was "To Kill a Mockingbird".  I can still read it today and enjoy it.

The one that stood out in high school was "1984".  Unfortunately I believe this book is becoming more and more relevent in our current society.


Stacy in Indiana

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Date Posted: 9/12/2007 11:34 AM ET
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Weird double post...and I can't read my own posts....odd...

I didn't have a "reading list" either. Seems to be the consensus that it is a "current generation" thing. I didn't have any trouble being told to read, though.

My WHY??? book was THE ODESSY BY HOMER.  I still think that.    Funny thing is:  I got JOHNNY TREMAIN from

Last Edited on: 9/14/07 8:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Stacelito avatar
Date Posted: 9/12/2007 11:34 AM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2006
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I didn't have a "reading list" either. Seems to be the consensus that it is a "current generation" thing. I didn't have any trouble being told to read, though.

My WHY??? book was THE ODESSY BY HOMER.  I still think that.    Funny thing is:  I got JOHNNY TREMAIN from PBS last year and my 8th grader SCREAMED that I needed to get it out of the house. HAHA...apparently, that is her WHY book!

Last Edited on: 9/14/07 8:21 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
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Date Posted: 9/12/2007 2:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2005
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I read The Lord of the Rings over & over & over, it was the perfect escape from real life.

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Date Posted: 9/12/2007 7:53 PM ET
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Okay----On the Beach is by Nevil Shute, and it is the book about the submariners who survive a nuclear holocaust.

My high school age grandson had When the Emperor Was Divine, by  _____ Otsuka, as the last book on his summer reading list.  His lit class began this school year (Tuesday after Labor Day) with discussion of it in class.  I read the opening pages of it one evening waiting for supper, and have asked him to hand it on to me when he has finished with it.  It's 160 pages, only, and is an account of the removal of Western U. S. Japanese-Americans to "relocation centers" (internment camps) during W W II.  A different member of the family is the narrative voice in each of the sections of the slim book.

I went to school so long ago (the 1930s and 40s) that a required reading list didn't figure in our scholarly tasks.  But, we were required to write book reports in the upper elementary grades, on books of our own choosing.  However, there was not the wealth of junvenile literature back then that there is now.  Anyone remember that little prig, Elsie Dinsmore?  The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew?  The  Bobbsey Twins?  The Poor Little Rich Girl?   Heidi?  Lassie-Come-Home?

Later on, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' The Yearling was a required book.  It was made into a movie with Gregory Peck as the hard=scrabble farmer father.

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Date Posted: 9/12/2007 9:38 PM ET
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We didn't have reading lists, though I did read everything I could get my hands on as a kid.  For the 5th grade, instead of a reading list, our teacher gave us a poem to memorize,  Down to the Sea in Ships. Being from a fishing port, it was relevant to her teaching plan for the year.   It's still my favorite poem, aside from a few of Frost's.


Last Edited on: 1/18/09 6:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
drewsmom avatar
Date Posted: 9/12/2007 11:19 PM ET
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I didn't have summer reading lists growing up, and my son doesn't either, or at least he hasn't up to this point.  I really don't remember any required reading in school.  I know we had it, but nothing really made a lasting impression on me.

I do, however, read with my son during the school year, whatever he's reading in school.  It just gives us something else to converse about. 

However, this year he has to read Romeo and Juliet.  I get why, but ugh!  Kids just don't get into Shakespeare.  They just don't!  My thought is that you will have a much more engaged class if you pick something else, like someone else here already said, something relevant to recent history (in their minds), or relevant to them.  Then they'll be much more responsive and excited, and they will actually read, and not just the cliffs notes.

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Date Posted: 9/13/2007 3:34 PM ET
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I never had summer reading lists either - but I read constantly nonetheless.  My step-mom was a great thrift store shopper and I spent all those hours she shopped picking out 10 cent books.... ten to twenty at a time.... I was horse crazy as a kid and remember the "King of the Wind" books were my very favorite.   I also loved the Island of the Blue Dolphins.   I don't every remember wondering why we had to read something.  I just loved to read. 

All four of my kids are avid readers too...and now that three are grown we swap our favorites back and forth...easier with the girls than with my son.   My youngest (8th grade) always has summer reading lists...and usually she complains about them and waits until the last possible moment to read them.  This summer though, she read and really totally enjoyed "Tom Sawyer", to my pleasant surprise.  They're even doing the play in school and she will play Tom.  

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Date Posted: 9/15/2007 10:11 AM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2005
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We didn't have summer reading lists when I was in school but I took many classes where we read and discussed books.  Some of my favorites were:

How Green Was My Valley-Morgan Llewellyn

The Diary Of Anne Frank

The Hunchback Of Notre Dame-Victor Hugo

Watership Down-Richard Adams

The Cask Of Amontillado-Edgar Allan Poe

Many more I'm probably forgetting! 

The books I absolutely loathed were The Cherry Orchard and Tess Of The D'Ubervilles.  They were so dreary and hard for a junior to get through!  I also did not enjoy Frankenstein, but want to give that one a chance now that I'm older.  I think I'd enjoy it more now. 

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Date Posted: 9/15/2007 1:56 PM ET
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This isn't directly responsive to the question, but it's an interesting tidbit:  I was "required" to read Great Expectations for three different courses, never once made it all the way through the book, and scored no lower than a B in any of the three.  I guess as long as we could regurgitate the notes the teacher gave us back on the exam, that was good enough.

Mizzou - I read the Five Little Peppers and How They Grew over and over, along about 1970 I'd say.  I'll never forget how excited they all were when kind Mrs. Beebe sent home a pat of butter for them, or how suspenseful it was waiting to find out if Polly's eyesight was ruined by the measles.  There was a whole series of Pepper books, but How They Grew was definitely the best.

I'm glad they forced us to read Shakespeare in school, because I would never have attempted it on my own, and it is worth doing.  We did MacBeth, Romeo & Juliet, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.  I'm also glad for the inoculation we received of the English poets (Browning, Shelley) for the same reason.

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Date Posted: 9/15/2007 2:29 PM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2006
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The book that made the biggest impression on me and inspired my love of reading was The Hobbit.Our third grade teacher read it to us and I was hooked!!!


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Date Posted: 9/16/2007 7:42 PM ET
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One of  the greatest books I have read was not just The Outsiders but also Chasing The Dream by Joe Torre.It just made me realize that life can change at any time and if you have a dream you should put forth the effort to make come true.

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Date Posted: 9/17/2007 10:39 AM ET
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Speaking of Great Expectations, that was one of the few books I actually enjoyed reading in high school and made me want to see the movie- the one with Gwenyth Paltrow. It's a great movie if anyone hasn't seen it (not exactly like the book) and an even better soundtrack.