Summer reading may be a staple of elementary and high school education, but there’s no reason adults can’t have fun with summer reading, too. Many town or community libraries offer adult summer reading programs, and while some college students may have no desire to do extra work on their break, many would be glad to have recommendations from their professors on books to read over the summer.

Even better, many patriotic or fun classic books are available for free through Questia. If you’re looking to inspire your college students with some 4th of July themed patriotic reads or are just looking for a summer reading list to inspire your own picks during your off semester, consider these themes and selections for your reading pleasure.

Benefits of summer reading

Summer reading, and summer learning in general, is being advocated as a way to strengthen general education programs. According to a blogger for the UCLA Lab School website in the June 4, 2007 post “Parents–Why Summer Reading,” “Research shows that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not often slide backwards.”

It is not a stretch to apply this concept to college students and critical thinking skills. Summer reading selections for college students and adults should mix fun (because it is vacation, after all!) and intellectual challenge. Developing a summer reading plan can also be a great item for college students majoring in education to include in their curriculum portfolio, according to Jo Kinnard in From Crayons to Cyberspace: Creating a Professional Teaching Portfolio. (19)

Patriotic literature

The 4th of July holiday has everyone thinking about hometown America celebrations, with town bands playing John Phillip Souza marches before the fireworks begin. It’s a great time to pounce on American history. With the popularity of Hamilton on Broadway (and the soundtrack playing on the earbuds of many college students), you could pick up Ron Chernow’s 2004 biography, Alexander Hamilton, on which the musical was based. Other patriotic reads include:

Fun classic books

Beach reads are always a good choice for summer, but what about a classic you’ve meant to pick up and haven’t had the chance? Consider reading the Moss Roberts two volume translation of Three Kingdoms: A Historical Novel, University of California Press, rereleased from a previous edition in 2004. Other options include:

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston, 1937
  • Adventure by Jack London, 1910
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, 1958
  • After Dark and Other Stories by Wilkie Collins, 1875
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, 2003

Limited time new reads from Questia

If you want to step outside your comfort zone and grab a book that isn’t in your preferred field or genre, consider some of these books that have just been added to the Questia library. These are only available for a limited time at no cost, so summer is the perfect time to check them out.

Reference: Kinnard, Jo. 2007. From Crayons to Cyberspace: Creating a Professional Teaching Portfolio. Belmont, CA: Thompson Higher Education.

How do you design your summer reading programs for college students or for yourself? Let us know in the comments!