Summer reading meant to foster discussion, diversity

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Summer reading meant to foster discussion, diversity

Books & Pizza: Students and staff unite in September to discuss the 2018 Wildcat Read,  “Everything I Never Told You.”

Books & Pizza: Students and staff unite in September to discuss the 2018 Wildcat Read, “Everything I Never Told You.”

Carli DiNardo / Mayfield Yearbook Staff

Books & Pizza: Students and staff unite in September to discuss the 2018 Wildcat Read, “Everything I Never Told You.”

Carli DiNardo / Mayfield Yearbook Staff

Carli DiNardo / Mayfield Yearbook Staff

Books & Pizza: Students and staff unite in September to discuss the 2018 Wildcat Read, “Everything I Never Told You.”

Max Rollins, Guest Writer

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For the past three years, English teachers have chosen a Wildcat Read—a school-wide summer reading book with the goal of bringing together the community and spend time sharing ideas.

Kerry Rutigliano, a leader on the Wildcat Read committee, says that the main goal of the Wildcat Read is to connect Mayfield students. She said, “The benefits to a summer read, or a big read, is it really celebrates community and engages the community of Mayfield High School, 9 through 12. Reading the same title brings people together, diverse groups, and people from different backgrounds.”

Kara Zickes, the chairperson of the English department, believes this connection also fosters discussion, curiosity, and a spread of different ideas.

“We [English teachers] believe when we share in the reading experience, it ignites our curiosity, stimulates our intellect, intensifies our enthusiasm, strengthens our communities, and strengthens our story. We believe that life should be filled with great titles that elicit strong and fierce dialogue,” she said.

Senior Justin Arnold has seen all three years of the Wildcat Read and has witnessed the benefit to this discussion. He said “I think it’s nice that everyone’s reading the same book, because everyone can share what they think about the book, and if there’s a part that somebody doesn’t understand, other people can clarify that part. It’s nice that everyone can collaborate to understand the book.”

Part of the goal is also to gain an appreciation for reading itself.

Rutigliano said, “Reading is paramount in everything, whether it happens in the summer, the winter, or the fall. [Summer reading] probably is misnamed; it should be something entirely different, to pronounce and really accentuate the importance of reading, that a student, a human being, should be on a daily diet of reading. It just has a steroidal effect on so many other things, and not just exclusive to English class.” 

Zickes agrees with Rutigliano and added that reading over the summer will improve student performance in English class. She said, “The Wildcat Read aims to foster a respect and passion for independent reading as the research resounds that the time children spend in independent reading is the best predictor of gains in reading achievement.”

Arnold agrees with claims about the benefits of reading over the summer. He said, “I think [summer reading] is good because it keeps everyone’s minds sharp and everything, and I usually enjoy the book we’re reading over the summer, so that’s pretty cool.”

Picking a book that can be appreciated by the wide range of students at Mayfield isn’t easy, but the English department comes up with a short list of titles after sorting through multiple selections, with the final choice being made by a student vote.

“What we try to do is select a title that is accessible. It’s not just for a kid that perhaps is a very strong reader. It’s not just for a particular group, but it’s a book that’s accessible in terms of abilities, it’s readable, and that it has relevance and it has the opportunity to be celebrated in terms of its rich themes. Choosing a book is difficult,” said Rutigliano.

While this system has benefits, it is not perfect, as it is impossible to pick one book that appeals to everyone, according to junior Zack West.

He said, “I have mixed feelings on it… not everyone has the same interests in reading, so you’re going to have people that don’t enjoy it.”

Some would argue that different interests may not be much of an issue if the right book is chosen. Arnold said, “As long as the book is appropriate and seems to be a subject that many people can relate to, I don’t think it’s much of a problem.”

Whether or not every student enjoys the book, Rutigliano believes that there is something to gain from it. She said, “You can’t possibly please everyone. Some books are really going to light our intellectual fires, out creative fires; that’s what we live for. There are other books that we will still benefit from, even if they don’t appeal to us.”

The selection for next year is still being determined by members of the Wildcat Read committee.

 

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