For college students throughout the country the end of the school year is a welcomed break from research papers, quizzes, tests and group projects. Students gleefully leave campus physically and emotionally exhausted dreaming of warm summer breezes, sleeping late, enjoying time with friends or watching television. Some students will spend intense hours working in a lab, corporate office or traveling abroad. Enjoying the summertime offers college students the opportunity to exhale, reflect and establish career goals. Personally, I had the chance to participate in a variety of programs aimed at strengthening the academic skills of new college students and teaching young students via the CDF Freedom Schools. Each enriching experience taught me the importance of giving back to my local community. Despite my busy schedule I identified a few books to read prior to the end of the semester. I spent the last few weeks of school talking to classmates, family, friends and professors narrowing the list of books. It was not always any easy process but I felt it was important to spend some time reading to prepare for the rigors of the fall semester. The decision to read during the summer occurred because of my struggles following my freshman year of college.
After my first year I realized it was important to read something challenging during the summer break. The first few weeks of my sophomore year were difficult. I had a hard time focusing, staying motivated and completing assignments. At some point I read an article about summer reading loss. Although the article focused on students in PreK-12 settings it mentioned that the problem could impact college students. I realized that my struggles in the classroom maybe connected to not taking time to read throughout the summer.
Prior to starting my junior year, I took time to read as much as possible. Reading during the summer was not easy because I was tired from taking classes and participating in extra curricular activities. Although I spent time reading books that were not required by professors during the fall and summer semesters; learning to read consistently during beautiful summer days required a lot of discipline. However, once the fall semester began I realized (a) reading and completing assignments was easier than the previous year; (b) I could focus for longer periods of time; (c) I was more engaged during class and (d) I tutored classmates when they needed help. While my renewed focus could have been connected to my growth as a person, reading during the summer played an important role.
Taking time out of your busy schedule to read during the summertime is difficult. College students wait all year to email or post their last assignment, wave goodbye to classmates and take some time to relax. I learned that reading a good book can help prepare you for the next semester. For most students the biggest challenge will come from choosing a fiction or non-fiction book. Surprisingly, once you find a book that is interesting, reading will not become a chore. Instead of spending time on social media (we are all guilty) you may choose to enjoy a recently downloaded eBook. Taking time to unplug and read has a major impact on how you feel.
Developing a list of books was difficult. I spoke to variety of people to find out which books they enjoyed reading. It is not a comprehensive list, some of the books may be familiar while others will strengthen your library. Feel free to add to the books below by using #summerreadinglist.
Summer Reading List
- Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
- The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As told to Alex Haley by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
- The Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
- The Wake of the Wind by J. California Cooper
- The Between by Tananarive Due
- Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Minion by L.A. Banks
- Kindred by Octavia Butler
- A Little Yellow Dog by Walter Mosley
- Banker to the Poor: Micro Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty by Muhammad Yunus