Written by Hayley Andros, Staff Writer
It comes to no surprise that participation in summer reading has begun to decrease. In order to fight this issue, Bethel High School has created a new outlook on summer reading, with a brand new name, a variety of books to pick from, and the much appreciated update: there’s no grade attached. Even with all of these changes, it’s challenging to get some students to participate.
When asked what the biggest struggle with the new approach to summer reading, Ms. Jessica Wismar, BHS media specialist stated, “As always, the biggest challenge is how do you motivate? People who like to read will read, and people who don’t like to read probably won’t, so that can be a challenge.”
The hardworking BHS reads committee, made up of various faculty members and students has found a way to combat this issue.
“The way that we responded to it a little bit differently this year, is that we added in groups that were specifically for non readers. Those groups actually tackled excerpts from some of the books that were on the list, and we kind of did that as a way to give them a flavor, so that they maybe felt enticed to read the book in its entirety, ” Wismar says.
Giving students who usually struggle with reading a chance to explore excerpts of books opens the opportunity for more reluctant readers to complete their summer reading. It’s incentives like these that are making summer reading participation grow.
Even with these added groups for reluctant readers, it still can be a struggle to have an in depth discussion regarding the book. With different grade levels in each group, it makes it harder to have intellectual discussions that each grade level can actively listen and converse in.
“The biggest challenge (in the discussion) was getting freshman and even sophomores to contribute to the discussion when there were juniors who were less shy to share their perspectives,” said Emily Quader (17’), a discussion leader. “There was a noticeably deeper understanding of the book from juniors opposed to freshman. The juniors in more advanced classes definitely took into account different literary elements and writing structures used, while the younger students took more of an interest in the overall plot of the story”.
When it comes to summer reading, there will always be struggles with completion levels and there will always be challenges when attempting to have discussions regarding these books, but, the change to summer reading is most definitely a good one.
“We’re actually trying to get away from the title ‘Summer Reading’, were trying to make it rebranded, that’s why we’re calling it ‘BHS Reads’. We don’t want it to be seen as that punishment that people usually perceive”.