It can be so hard to start a study project (any project) in the heat of the summer. Between the beach, the pool, and the couch, studying is often the last thing on a student’s mind. But summer months present so much potential – from firming up your base knowledge in last year’s subjects, to getting in a little advance SAT prep, to making sure your basic reading and writing strategies don’t begin to slip.
As an academic and SAT tutor, this is why I often ask my students in New York – even if they don’t do anything else all summer – to read (and to read well) a great piece of historical fiction before school begins in the fall.
You can honestly choose anything, as long as it’s well written, and websites like Amazon and Good Reads -- or even most major newspapers -- keep lists of quality novels that make use of rich historical settings to choose from.
And to get the most out of this kind of summer reading, choose a book that relates to the material your history class will cover next year. For instance, if you’re entering AP US History, books like The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, or East of Eden by John Steinbeck can offer a really vivid introduction to Puritan Boston, the Civil War South, and the turn of the century American West, respectively.
Or for classes like AP European or World History, texts such as The Name of the Rose, The Poisonwood Bible, Schindler’s List, or Love in the Time of Cholera can bring to life everything from medieval Italy to nineteenth-century South America.
And reading books like these isn’t only good for your middle school or high school history prep – just by focusing on good literature you’ll solidify tons of transferable skills that will help in English class, they’ll be useful for PSAT or SAT verbal section, and they’ll also improve your writing.
Of course, you can really increase your analytical writing skills by giving yourself little weekly or chapter write-ups for practice – and if you’re having trouble with setting these objectives or with active reading techniques, you can always find a private writing or study skills tutor to help online, in New York, or in Boston through Cambridge Coaching. But the beauty of this reading and writing exercise is that you can do it anywhere and at any time. That's a little known verbal tip for you.
Remember, though, that summer should be at least a little fun, and that working your way through some high-quality historical fiction might be the most painless way to multi-task history, literature, and analytical writing study objectives while still managing to relax.