BY Emily Evans
Summer is here! Of my many memories of summer, one of the best is going to our local bookstore in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, with my dad to stock up on books to read. As an educator, administrator and English teacher, summer meant he had a more flexible schedule. We spent lots of time playing tennis, swimming, riding bikes, boating and reading, especially during the four weeks spent on a lake in Maine every summer.
I distinctly remember the summer before I started seventh grade and middle school when he introduced me to The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. I felt so grown up reading a more sophisticated novel and loved discussing it with my dad. I then read Travels with Charley and The Pear, also by John Steinbeck. I was so proud that I had broadened my reading repertoire and could discuss novels with my dad that I know he taught and admired.
Throughout middle and upper schools, in our English classes, we read novels by many iconic male authors such as George Orwell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Shakespeare, Mark Twain, J.D. Salinger, Nathaniel Hawthorne, among many others. I especially loved Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath.
As a parent, I have loved rereading and discussing some of my favorite books with my children as they have read them in school. It has been interesting to see which books they have enjoyed and which authors are now introduced to them today as opposed to in the 80s when I was in school. My three children have all had to read Catcher in the Rye and some Shakespeare and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Big Short by Michael Lewis. This summer, my rising high school junior is reading Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell, All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I am excited to see a diverse summer reading list for today’s students in addition to the many classics.
Most of us were introduced to countless authors in school, such as Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, James Joyce, Stan Lee, C.S. Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, and Leo Tolstoy. Furthermore, Sherman Alexie, Bill Bryson, Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, Harlan Coben, Pat Conroy, Michael Crichton, Clive Cussler, John Grisham, Stephen King, Kurt Vonnegut and Tom Wolfe. They are all incredibly talented authors whose books are widely read and loved.
Whether it is a classic book on a summer reading list or a debut novel, I hope you will find time this summer to enjoy expanding your reading repertoire and sharing the power of the written word with family and friends.