Choice Encourages Reading


Students who read four to six books in a summer are more likely to maintain their reading skills between semesters. As a result, many schools develop summer reading programs to help stave off the inevitable intellectual decline students face during the summer months. However, assigning books to students might be less effective than allowing them to choose. Researcher Dr. Erin Kelly has been testing her theory by encouraging school districts to allow students to pick their own books. She argues that initial results with book-choice are successful enough to warrant rolling out a widespread program:

Tackling the academic achievement gap between the rich and poor is a staggering undertaking. This is a relatively simple piece of the puzzle. Many districts already have summer reading programs — we just have to let the children have a say in what they take home. And if that means a few of them pick “Frozen” rather than “Charlotte’s Web,” that’s a sacrifice we should be willing to make.

Ian MacAllen is the author of Red Sauce: How Italian Food Became American (Rowman & Littlefield, April 2022). His writing has appeared in Chicago Review of Books, Southern Review of Books, The Offing, 45th Parallel Magazine, Little Fiction, Vol 1. Brooklyn, and elsewhere. He tweets @IanMacAllen and is online at More from this author →