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Kenneth C. Davis Headshot

Summer Reading, Literary IQ and a Pop Quiz

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It's summer. Do you know where your IQ is?

For most school age kids, summer means vacation, camp, the pool. You know: A few months of fun. "No more teachers, No more books."

But that last part is not true. Summer also means the often dread Summer Reading List. Many parents spend the summer in an endless harangue, telling their kids to read.

But there is actually a good reason for that nag. A recent survey cited by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof supports the summertime enforced reading concept. Those who don't read during the summer apparently lose IQ. A few months of "Marco Polo" in the swimming pool or weaving potholders in arts and crafts are apparently not the equivalent of a few hours spent reading.

So reading is fundamental.

But here's the upside. When they actually do that reading, many kids discover the books that will stick with them for the rest of their lives.

I still remember books from my summer reading lists. The Pearl by John Steinbeck. 1984 by Orwell. And of course, To Kill a Mockingbird. Although I confess, when I went off to Camp Rainbow, I usually carried a cache of comic books as well as my required summer reading. There's a lot to be learned from "Daredevil" and "The Silver Surfer."

But the "forced reading" also gave me the summer reading bug back then. And I remember reading books I didn't have to read. Two in particular stick with me. In the summer of 1968, when I was 14, I read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. And Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Both of these books truly altered my perspective on the world.

But how about you? Do you read? Sure. "Beach reads" count. But there is no reason that kids should have to do all the "serious" summer reading. It's a great time to toss a couple of those books you've been "meaning to read" into the backpack or beach bag. You know, that classic that you skipped in high school. Or that recent prize-winner that everybody is talking about.

Just in case you want to check out your literary IQ, I put together this quick Pop Quiz on some of the books you should have read--but maybe never did. Take the quiz. See how you do. Then, go out and find a great book. Then you can not only show off that tan. You can show off that buff new IQ.

If you are looking for some other suggestions here are three reading lists I posted earlier this summer on the Huffington Post:

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