Your Non-Endless Summer

School’s out for the summer and summer is here. You may be thinking of summer as a long haul from now to when school starts again, but summer isn’t endless; it’s quite short, actually. If you’re a rising senior, this summer shouldn’t be anywhere near endless for you. Your summer should already be underway and you should have at least some kind of plan in place that will allow you to add depth to your college credentials.

Summer arrived on June 21 this year. There are many summer opportunities if you know where to look. For most of you, summertime is probably work time. If you’re going to work, you most likely already have your job lined up. You may even be working one now and will just keep on working through the summer.

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If you don’t have a job, it may be a little late to start looking for one now. Most high schoolers start their summer job search in the early spring, around March or April. That’s when most businesses that depend on summer help start looking for applicants. Don’t be discouraged, though. Keep in mind that as you get to summer, desirable jobs become scarcer. Early prospectors pick them off.

If you’re a sophomore, junior, or senior-to-be, and you don’t have plans for summer work, you can still have a profitable summer. Though you may not want to hear it, the summer is an excellent time to get ahead for next school year. One example is the SAT. You can do this several ways.

First, you can improve the quality of your reading. Emphasize the word “quality.” Summer seems to invite students to turn off their brains and recline into three months of MTV, game shows, video games, and soap opera digest. Don’t be one of those. Go to the library and check out some classics or some poetry. Stimulate your brain. Even if you can make it through only one good book this summer, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Here’s a group of great suggested reading lists. Take your pick:

Recommended Reading Lists 2010
These lists of titles have been compiled by librarians at member schools of the Houston Area Independent Schools Library Network (HAISLN). The lists include both fiction and nonfiction books by some of the best authors for children and young adults. Lists presented for PreK-12.

Summer Reading Lists
Charlottesville (Virginia) Catholic School presents these lists or required and suggested reading. Separate lists for each grade K to 8.

Summer Reading for Kids
These books have been selected by Vermont public school librarians and are recommended for summer reading for children and young adults. Published on the Vermont Education Association’s Web page, Summer Reading offers separate lists for students in grades K through 4, 5 through 8, and 9 through 12.

2010 Summer Reading Lists
These lists, from the Mountain Brook City Schools in Birmingham, Alabama, recommend books for students in grades 1 through 3, 4, 5, 6, junior high school (grades 7 through 9), and high school.

Summer Reading Lists
Middlesex Middle School in Darien, Connecticut, provides reading lists for social studies and science, as well as English.

Summer Fun Reading List
These lists include books for students in K through 5. Book lists are divided by grade levels of students entering grades K and 1, 2 and 3, and 4 and 5, as well as into such categories as poetry, picture books, and classic fiction to read aloud to the whole family.

Elementary Summer Reading List
This list from the Wayland (Massachusetts) Public Schools includes fiction titles for beginning readers, students in grades 2 and 3, and students in grades 4 and 5, as well as lists of books of poetry, books of fairy tales, biographies, books for families to read aloud, and more.

Boulder (Colorado) Public Library Booklists for Kids
This list of lists from the BPL includes summer reading chapter books and summer reading picture books.

Fairfax County Public Library Books for School-Age Children
Though not specifically created as summer reading lists, these lengthy lists include great summer reading ideas. Individual lists are offered for students in grades 1 to 6.

Summer Reading Lists
This resource from Fairfax County (Virginia) Public Schools includes four separate lists — for students going into grades 6, 7 and 8, 9 and 10, and 11 and 12.

Boston Public Schools Summer Reading Lists
Four lengthy book lists — for students in grades K through 3, 4 and 5, 6 through 8, and 9 through 12 — offer titles sorted by genre. These lists, created in association with the Boston Public Library, include titles in Spanish for students in grade K through 8.

Each year the International Reading Association (IRA) invites 10,000 schoolchildren to read and vote for the best newly published books. This site provides the children’s list as well as a list of teachers’ picks for the best books.

Publish Your Book Reviews
Have children publish their book reviews on Web sites that offer readers the opportunity to share their opinions about books. This issue of Barbara Feldman’s Surfing the Net with Kids newsletter offers links to a handful of such opportunities!

Another summer option is to get one of those SAT study guides and slowly work your way through the chapters. Even if you don’t want to do the lessons, you can study the vocabulary lists that will help you prepare.

This coming summer: You can earn money, knowledge, or both!

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Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.