College-bound seniors are just days away from complete freedom. For the first time in their lives, they won’t be studying for SATs/ACTs, taking community college classes, or immersing themselves in projects and extracurricular activities to build strong portfolios for college admissions. Phew! And they deserve this break in pressure so they can decompress before heading off to college in the fall.
Some colleges give incoming freshmen summer reading assignments to discuss when they arrive on campus. Most books are meant to stimulate philosophical thinking, and in an ideal world, it could be just what the students need.
But, I’ve noticed that students who were voracious readers in elementary and middle school often stopped reading for pleasure in high school because they were inundated with required reading and homework overload. When applying to college in 12th grade, these students create lists of their favorite nonfiction read during high school — as part of their college applications – many gasp at the thought that they hadn’t read anything for fun since 8th grade.
While I don’t support mandating that college-bound students read a laundry list of required books during the summer before heading off to college, I do believe that they’ll enjoy reading some of the books on colleges’ lists.
Here’s a list of books required by some colleges:
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, assigned by Sienna College
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, assigned by Goucher College
Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson, assigned by Seton Hall
The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, assigned by Smith College
Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequity and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil, assigned by SUNY Binghamton
The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde, assigned at Moravian University
This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, assigned at the University of Louisiana at Monroe
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, assigned at New York University
Junaluska: Oral Histories of a Black Appalachian Community, edited by Susan E. Keefe, assigned at Appalachian State University
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, assigned at Bucknell University
The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, assigned at Saint Michael’s College
Dig by A. S. King, assigned at SUNY Oswego
Or, maybe college-bound kids could immerse themselves in some of those books that they just never had time to read during high school.