Various reactions to DHS Summer Reading 2016


When you’re on vacation, what is the last possible thing you want to be doing? Work. After months of slaving over textbooks and essays, summer vacation is a breath of fresh air that grants a much needed reprieve from stress. However, with each end of a school year comes the need to read an assigned book during the treasured hiatus.

Each grade level’s English honors classes were given a novel to read and analyze, guided by a critical question to be answered in the early fall. English 9 Honors read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, English 10 Honors read Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, English 11 Honors read a fiction book of their choice, and English 12 Honors read Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Fahrenheit 451 received mixed reviews. An anonymous freshman thought the book was overall “boring and uninteresting,” with the plot and characters being particularly dull.

English Teacher Jessica Lassey dislikes dedicating class time to discussing it due to the disinterest in the students.

Freshman Jonathan Bacdayan, however, enjoyed the book. He said, “It was provoking and had some great dialogue.”

Into the Wild sparked two general opinions: absolute hatred or appreciation. Sophomore Nina Lamarre was strongly opposed to the author’s point of view. “Although he tried to be impartial,” she said, “he was very opinionated and self- centered.” During the book the author was often inserting his own thoughts on what he claimed Chris was thinking, as well as discussing his own adventures in great detail.

Sophomore Charlotte Correiro agreed. “It took away from the flow of the story,” she claimed.

However, Lamarre thought the book, at the very least, made her think. She said, “There were themes regarding identity and transcendentalism (such as finding truth in nature), which were interesting to think about.”

English teacher Marek Kulig found Into the Wild to be of material worth, while also regarding the writing as an “unbelievable example of journalism.”

English 11 Honors had the opportunity to choose their own book off The New York Times Fiction Bestseller list from the past three years. Junior Caroline Mello enjoyed the change of summer reading choice. She said, “Having a book I liked made doing summer work so much more enjoyable.” For this reading option, the students had the ability to choose a novel that appealed to their reading preferences. “If the goal is to get students reading over the summer, then this option is much better because it makes reading something they want to do rather than a task they are dreading,” Mello said.

English Teacher Ann Fifield also approved of this option. “Students enjoy and need choices in the curriculum,” she said. “Choice equals engagement.”

Animal Farm was received with a neutral reaction. Unlike Into the Wild or Fahrenheit 451, there wasn’t a large following of distaste around the book. Senior Rachel Jorge found the book relatively likable, especially compared to the previously assigned books. She said, ”It was more relatable, connecting to events in the past through animals.”

Senior Maddie Pfirrman did not find the characters relatable; however, she did enjoy the book overall. “I thought that it showed how messed up society is,” she said.

There have been different ideas as to how the summer reading program could be altered. Freshman John Correiro and English Teacher Will Higgins both think that it would be an improvement if the assigned book was recently published. Expanding on the subject, Mr. Higgins said, “A classic book needs a teacher’s help and guidance.” If the books are more recent, the student would find the material interesting enough to read. The challenging classics can be better explained by their teachers who are more experienced readers.

Ms. Lassey finds the concept of students being able to pick their own book to be a superior idea. As a potential project for the summer reading, she thinks it would be interesting if her students were to convince her to read their book. She said, “If they’re passionate about it, then I’ll want to read it.” This way it’ll be a more enjoyable experience for the students and her.

Sophomore Nina Lamarre thinks the summer reading program could be improved if there was a choice of a selected nonfiction and fiction book to decide between. Lamarre believes that since not everyone likes the genre chosen, more people would be pleased if they could choose the one they prefer. She said, “Using this method means that more people can enjoy the reading while also meeting the criteria.”