There are two mistakes students make with summer reading--doing it right away to "get it done" and then forgetting the book by the time starts, or throwing it under the bed and scrambling to read it days before school starts. Use these tips to survive and enjoy summer reading.
First, check your mindset. If you begin believing that summer reading is going to ruin your summer--it will. But if you read the book with an open-mind, you might just find that it has some important lessons or interesting characters. You might even like it (gasp!).
Second, read with a purpose. If your teacher assigned an essay, then take notes on the essay as you read. If you are looking for a certain theme, write down any quotes and their page numbers that you might want to reference later. Taking these notes as you go will make writing your essay much easier when you are all done.
When I was in middle school, they did not give us an essay. Instead, we took a test sometime during the first week of school. For this, I recommend taking the following notes:
Choose 5 major characters and give them each a sheet of paper. Write down any important information about them: their beliefs, their conflicts, their interests, their education level or job, and any other major point about them. This will help you determine each character's role and help you remember the major points of the story. This will also be a helpful study guide if you have to take an in class assessment.
Third, use online summaries as a guide, not a replacement. When I was in 9th grade, I switched school districts over the summer. My new school had us reading To Kill a Mockingbird, The Old Man and the Sea, and Briar Rose. I'd only ever been asked to read one book before, and it was usually a much easier book than these heavier topics. I was in over my head. I would read a chapter of the text and then check in on a site like SparkNotes to check my comprehension and reinforce my learning. However, reading only the online summaries will leave you out of some of the more major moments that might change your viewpoint or help you complete that assessment.
Ultimately, if you want to be successful with your summer reading, start about 4 to 6 weeks before you return to school to complete the assignment. Set aside a little bit of quiet time each day--about 30-45 minutes each day in a comfortable spot--mine was always outside on a blanket--and read, ready to take notes on the purpose you chose above.
Use these tips and enjoy your summer and your reading!