Summer Reading Choices Revealed

Hope Taques, staff writer

looking for alaska of beetles and angelsEach year Joliet West High School assigns all students, from incoming freshmen to incoming seniors, a book that must be read over the summer in order to kick start English class lessons for the fall semester. The books are listed in a poll that is voted on by students, parents, and administrators. Then, it is determined around March or April and announced to the students of JWHS. There is usually only one book chosen for each summer, but this year was a game changer. The books assigned for the summer of 2015 are Of Beetles and Angels, by Mawi Asgedom and Looking for Alaska,” by John Green. With these options at hand, many students are excited.

Sophomore Amy Gerwert said, “Summer reading is usually much more of a drag, because everyone is focused on being out of school and having fun, not still partaking in it. But, with options at hand, I feel like students might be more open to reading because they will be able to find what suits them.”

This year there was a harder time surrounding the decision of the books, and if “Looking for Alaska” should be chosen for all grades to read, due to its explicit content. So, it was decided that it would be assigned to upperclassmen, being sophomores, juniors and seniors if they chose. Meanwhile, incoming freshman will read “Of Beetles and Angels. The book is the tale of a young man as he travels from a Sudanese refugee camp, all the way Chicago, where his family thrives off of welfare. Throughout the book he learns his dream of obtaining a scholarship to Harvard University in order to provide a better life for himself.

On the other hand, “Looking for Alaska” revolves around a young boy named Miles who starts a new school and befriends a new crowd of edgy teens. Throughout John Green’s best-seller, there are ‘iffy’ moments and reviews even suggest the audience as grades nine and up. This, however, leaves many to wonder, why can’t freshman read it? Brian Conant, the English Curriculum Director explained, “We made this decision because we felt the content in Looking for Alaska was too mature for incoming freshmen.” Meaning, the books contents containing sex, drugs and adult language may be too risky for a younger crowd.

Sophomore Emily Rajkovac voiced her opinion of the school’s decision, saying, “I don’t think the age really matters, I mean high school is not the most censored place and eventually everyone is going to be exposed to it sooner or later.” Although this can be easily argued, some students agree with the school’s decision. Senior Homero Chavero said, “Even though high school is a place for students to grow and learn maturity, not many actually are able to grasp that as seniors, let alone as freshman. I mean, although is sort of wrong, it is understandable.”