Reading literature should be intentional. The problem with much summer reading is that the intention is unclear. Increasingly, students are asked to choose their own summer reading from Web sites like ReadKiddoRead, where the same advanced Real World Fiction category includes “The Catcher in the Rye” and “Flipped,” by Wendelin Van Draanen, which centers on divorce and kissing. Both books can be enjoyed by middle schoolers, but how will the seventh grader determine which one to pick?
Adam Yauch, a founding member of the Beastie Boys who died of cancer last week, attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn. One of his teachers, Judith Berezin List, remembers having him in her class as a gangly freshman in 1979. She wrote this piece for the Murrow Network, the student newspaper. It has been lightly edited.