It was not always thus. I didn't have summer reading lists when I was a boy. (OK, papyrus scrolls were very expensive... but still....)
Seriously, I have always read voraciously -- but no one ever forced a summer reading list on me as a child.
My own children have not been so lucky.
And every year we have a battle. I bought Youngest Son his required book early this summer. I placed it before him on almost a daily basis. I reminded him of it at every opportunity. I begged, I pleaded. I threw it at him a couple of times.
He did do better this year than last, though: This year he didn't have to stay up reading all night before the first day of school. He didn't finish until the last minute, though.
And what else did Youngest Son read this summer?
Sometimes he'd browse the Sports section in the paper. He'd look at Sports Illustrated. But a book? Never.
Nor is he the only one of my children to do this. In fact, with the exception of Older Daughter, none of my five children ever, ever reads books for pleasure. I don't remember whether Older Daughter had books assigned for summer reading (although I think she must have in high school). Certainly, though, all of the other ones have had summer reading assigned.
I see cause and effect here. Summer reading takes one of life's pleasures -- reading -- and, for most kids, turns it into an odious, resented chore. Maybe because it requires kids to think about school in the summer. And who would like that?
Because my children have all attended Catholic schools, they've been required to perform "service hours." Like summer reading is supposed to inspire reading for pleasure, service hours are supposed to turn kids into the next generation of volunteers.
That hasn't worked either. Not with my kids. But that's an heretical thought for a different day.