A user on Slashdot asked yesterday for summer science fiction reading suggestions for his preteen kids. There were, of course, plenty of great thoughts from other Slashdot members that included all of the usual suspects from Bradbury to Asimov to Pratchett to Douglas Adams.
However, the Slashdot set tends towards Gen X and older, from the days when people still read books. One reader unfortunately, but accurately, observed,
At first I was going to suggest The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and the Foundation series -- you know, the classics. Then I got to thinking a bit and the sad thing is that I'm not sure the kids today would appreciate those works as much as we did when we were their age. If they were to read those when they're slightly older or maybe even as adults, then maybe they might appreciate them more. But now? Probably not so much. I mean, we're talking about a generation that's grown up on a style of television and film different from that that we grew up with. Today, a camera angle rarely holds for more than 10 seconds before it cuts to another angle.
I could kill entire summers plowing through stacks of books; so could most of my peers. From Tolkien to King and everything in between, I read nonstop. The real question is, what do we need to do to get kids buried in books again? If we put the classics on a Kindle, will they read them? Our honors and Advanced Placement classes have extensive summer reading assignments, but these don't tend to be the sorts of books that could have absorbed long summer days or painful roadtrips. My oldest son is making his way through Huckleberry Finn right now and taking notes on themes of evil, racism, and friendship and analyzing Twain's view of Southern society. Fun. Don't get me wrong, the book is actually pretty good and he doesn't mind it, but it's not exactly Neuromancer, right?
So what should we have them read that is relevant, cool, timeless, exciting, and engaging? What can capture the elusive attention spans of the YouTube set? I'm not as ready to give up on getting kids to read as I am to abandon 35mm photography; reading is just too fundamentally important and should extend beyond walkthroughs and FAQs for the latest console games.
So what's on your required summer reading list?