Middle School

Book Summaries

So much controversy surrounds sites that summarize the chapters of books, such as Sparknotes, BookRags, PinkMonkey, etc. Many schools ask their students to sign a contract that they will under no circumstances use these sites. The problem is that many of us tend to look for a quick way out of our work, and these summaries get used in place of reading the book. I actually think that these summaries can be a critical tool, particularly for those with weaknesses in reading comprehension and memory. If my students who struggle with retention are assigned a chapter of reading, I typically ask them to read the online summary first. Then they must read the chapter to get the details and soak in the author’s style of writing. By reading the summary first, the student has a better understanding of the plot and can now follow along in the book without feeling lost or confused. These summaries are not meant to be a replacement to reading; however, I think that certain middle schools and high schools are actually doing a disservice to their students by banning an important learning tool.