Maintaining Mental Integrity Over Summer


Photo courteous of Lawrence Santiago

Sophomore Lilyana Martorana reading “Bless me Ultima.” This book is a part of the Honors English 10 curriculum.

Summer readings are a critical part of the curriculum for many English classes. Students are required to immerse themselves in books from To Kill a Mockingbird to Of Mice and Men, often finishing accompanying assignments to enhance their understanding. Studies have shown that students suffer “summer brain drain,” in which students lose their academic skills over extended periods away from school. These summer readings are a great way to enhance the English class while countering the consequences of “summer brain drain.”

AP Lang places heavy emphasis on understanding and analyzing pieces of literature. As a result, students are required to annotate and read the book Outliers by Malcom Gladwell over the summer. From the beginning of classes to the final AP exam, Outliers becomes a pertinent portion of the AP Lang curriculum.

The book Outliers and its associated assignments provide a great supporting basis for the analysis and writing required for the AP English curriculum. AP Lang teacher Mara Schultz, explains “[Outliers] gives students a great introduction to rhetoric with something that’s not incredibly complicated; it helps [students] read non-fiction…and it gives students a good foundation of knowledge to use for the rest of the year.” Utilizing these skills and knowledge gained from similar summer readings is critical to the coursework of all English classes.

Now, when doing these summer reading assignments, it is highly recommended that students pace themselves. There are many ways of doing this, but some are more effective than others. Junior Jason Thorpe recommends, “Don’t start reading early because by the time that you have finished the book and you have finished the assignment, when the due date comes you’re going to have forgotten all the book ” There are many ways of pacing a summer reading; what’s most important is finding a method that works best for you. 

As previously mentioned, these readings provide much needed mental stimulation over the extended mental break. Summer readings offer a solution to “summer brain drain,” which can negatively impact a student’s academic performance at the beginning of the year. Sophomore Emma Balbarin explains, “[Summer readings] help me get back in school and everything make sure that I’m not just completely draining out everything that I’ve learned over the course of the school year”

These readings, while somewhat dreaded, provide great benefits to students over the summer and over the course of their English classes. Furthermore, they enhance the English curriculum by providing context and baselines for the structures of assignments. So, before you dread your next summer reading, perhaps consider how this will affect you and your brain in your English classes.