Summer Learning, for Free

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beach scene

Free learning a stone’s throw away

Summer vacation is a great time for students and lifelong learners to read for pleasure; I’ve posted here before on a few good college-prep book lists available online:

Summertime to Read (2012)
Libraries List Books for the College-Bound (2011)
How to Create a Summer Reading List with Teeth (2011)

Another tip: if you’re on the go this season and looking for a great source for e- and audio-books, try Open Culture (billed as “The best free cultural & educational media on the web”). Your reading needs will be fulfilled: the site boasts 550 free audiobooks, “mostly classics,” for free download! It’s also a good place to go for free movies (catch up on your classic films); an impressively long list of free language-learning resources; and even college lectures and MOOCs in a wide array of subjects.

Image via / pedrojperez

Libraries List Books for the College-Bound

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English: The reading room of the library of th...

Regular readers have an enormous advantage in college. College-level work requires advanced reading comprehension skills, and reading more will help you by

-giving you practice reading and digesting complex works, and
-imparting to you the knowledge and wisdom that books tend to impart.

To enhance your reading, check out these lists from libraries:
“Outstanding Books for the College Bound”
From the Young Adult Library Services Association, this site lists books by academic discipline. The site mentions the list “offers opportunities for independent reading and lifelong learning.”
“College Bound Reading Lists”
From the Arrowhead Library System in Wisconsin, this list includes titles in American Literature, World Literature, History/Biography, Science, Social Science, Drama, and Poetry.

See related posts on creating quality book lists here and here.

Image credit: Wikipedia — “the reading room of the library of the Wisconsin Historical Society, designed by Ferry & Clas and constructed 1896-1900, was restored in 2009-10.”


How To Create a Summer Reading List with Teeth


Reading statue

Image via Wikipedia

You’ve realized since second grade that “reading is fundamental.” You realize reading anything is arguably better than reading nothing.  But you don’t wish to read just anything.  You’re preparing for college, and you need to read (at least some of the time) books that will build your mind muscles. 

In an age of Tweeting, what’s a reader to do?

Create a good summer reading list, of course!  (And then read the books.)

Below are two websites with excellent suggestions:

1)       “101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers” from College Board (they publish the SAT test):
UPDATE 6/5/14: the link above no longer works.  See this page from

2)      “The Big Read” books (literary fiction recommendations from the National Endowment for the Arts’ “Big Read” program):

…And a final tip:

3)      Visit your local library and talk to a librarian.  (Librarians also are available electronically nowadays, but human interaction is sometimes nice.)  Tell him or her that you’re seeking out classics and/or challenging books.  Explain that you’re preparing for college.  I guarantee you will get a delighted librarian and some great suggestions.

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