To require, or not to require: that is the question

To require, or not to require, that is the question:
Whether 'tis safer for the child to tackle
The tomes and texts of summer reading,
Or to rest after a year of standards,
And by resting be just fine?  To bore: to make tedious:
No more; and by saying no required reading we end
The heart-ache and the hundreds of pages down
That eyes are following, 'tis a consummation
Urgently to be wish'd.  To bore, to make tedious
To read: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
for in required reading what dreams may come
When they are reading not what they chose,
It must give us pause: there's the worry
That makes calamity of so long a summer;
For who would otherwise bear the scores of tests,
The teacher's wrong, the greater authorities correct,
The pangs of summer fun, the sandlot game's delay,
The insolence of NCLB and the spurns
That patient scoring of the unworthy tests,
When the grader himself might his intellect make
content with a book? who would a library visit,
To read and turn pages under a flickering light,
But oh that dread of something after Labor Day,
No matter the undiscover'd book in whose pages
No child is lost, or left behind
And indeed makes us happier for we have
played with others and enjoyed the sun!
But required reading make cowards of us all;
Teachers and parents unresolved
Are sicklied 'oer with the pale cast of thought,
Is casual fun of greater import and meaning
In this regard than our children's future?
And so we go --- required summer reading all!
The fair child!  Innocent, in our eyes
Be all our beliefs --- read required, read.


Filed under Reading, summer reading, Teaching

18 responses to “To require, or not to require: that is the question

  1. Excellently put. Though I fall against required
    summer reading, mine is but a single opinion.


  2. David,

    Your post on this was wonderful. I’ve been thinking for a few days how to piggyback on it, but ended up with this. (I’m also not a fan of homework:)


  3. I dare say, your’s is the classier take.


  4. My school requires that the Middle School kids read two books, but aside from “The Chosen” for 8th graders (the discussion of which starts their Jewish Social Studies unit in September) we don’t mandate specific titles (I provide a bunch of recommendations and links). When they first started requiring summer reading several years ago, the Humanities teachers assigned books to each grade. I’m kind of proud of working on them to open up the selection.


  5. Rose K

    Love this!

    May I suggest teachers “bestow” as opposed to “require” the gift of free, enjoy however you want, preferably with a snack in hand reading on students?

    If it’s packaged that way, maybe, just maybe it will be an accepted gift. …


  6. Brilliant, Monica! And eloquent, too!


  7. In my rush to get the above comment out before nighttime chores kicked in, I neglected to say:

    Brilliant! Brava!


  8. Very nice, Monica!!

    Against homework and reading logs, I must say. My daughter clocks 90-120 minutes of reading a day, yet I have to sign seven lines each week assuring the teacher she reads 15 minutes a day. Plus, every friday she has to read aloud to me from some awful SRA-type hand out. She reads better than most grownups. Already by September, I was signing, sight unseen.

    I think we should GIVE every child 2 books as a gift each year. And hope they’ll read them if they’re their own.


  9. OH, that 2 books came from the Middle School Lit listserv. Let’s face it. Two books a difference doesn’t make anyway.


  10. Very clever! I think a lot could be done to make the choices more appealing, in opening up the list to huge variety. And what about the parents? Could we require parents to read in the summer? Or support book clubs? Tree houses full of books? Shady hammock-filled glades with wheeled book nooks? Pool-side book mobiles? Camp libraries? Snack machines that also offer books?


  11. just did an interview on this topic with reporter in Newark. Wish I had seen this first so I could direct her to it. Love this.



  12. Miriam Lang Budin

    Well put, Monica!!!

    May I quote passages to our patrons this summer?

    We don’t have required reading in Chappaqua. (We do have lists of suggestions.) Still, some parents get wrought-up about what their children choose to read during the summer…


  13. Just remembered it, Teri! Miriam, by all means!


  14. delzey

    nice to see this again!


  15. Pingback: My Take on Summer Reading « educating alice

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