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High School Summer Book Lists Promote Lifelong Reading

Schools select titles that appeal to teens at North and South high schools.

We've reached the blistering apex of summer, and you know what that means -- time to start cracking the summer reading list. 

If you look at a Woodridge high school student’s bookshelf this summer, you’ll see plenty of contemporary favorites such as Ishmael and The Book Thief, as well as classics like Jane Eyre and David Copperfield.

Downers Grove North and South High Schools do summer reading a little differently. 

South High offers 10 book titles per grade. North offers a choice of three book titles per English class. 

North English Department Chair Linda Augustyn said the department chooses books that have a connection with what the students are going to work on first quarter. 

Augustyn said the books chosen teach college-readiness reading skills such as point-of-view bias, summerization and how voice and text affects the message of the piece. 

"We pick books that are interesting and are rich in opportunities for students to use those skills," she said. 

In the fall, students work on a variety of group projects with their book, from technology-based reader responses to research projects.

Augustyn said the department changes titles on the list if a book is unpopular or if it turns out to be too superficial for a more in-depth assignment. 

Downers South English Department chair Janice Schwarze said her teachers survey the students each year, removing the most unpopular -- and popular -- books from the list.

“We believe students will find [the popular] books on their own,” she said.

At least three teachers read a book before it makes the list, Schwarze said.

“We attempt to find books that they will enjoy and that they can understand without help from a teacher,” she said.

The work pays off. 

“Indeed, many of our students read more than the required one book on the list.”

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