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Summer Reading 2020

Information on the Books for 2020 Summer Reading



The most important thing is that you read your book this summer, and are ready to discuss it.

All of the other guiding questions, additional material, etc. contained on these pages are meant to give you tools to help you understand, or go deeper into, your book and prepare you to discuss it in relation to our school theme.

General Questions for Reading any Book

These are General Guiding Questions that can be used to help you understand any book.

  1. What kind of world does the author build in the story (e.g. time period, location, culture)? How does that world impact the plot? Character development? Conflicts? Theme?
  2. Choose one character who seemed particularly compelling in the story. How does the author describe him or her? Think of direct physical description (e.g. “She had short brown hair”) as well as indirect description--the way he/she reacts to conflict, for example, or the way he/she interacts with other characters.

  3. What are some of the key conflicts in your book? Are those conflicts ever resolved? If so--how? If not, why not? How might you have solved those particular conflicts if you lived in the world of the book, keeping in mind any constraints placed on the characters from the world which they inhabit?

  4. Think about beginnings and endings. How did the author open this particular book, and what kind of mood or tone did that beginning establish? Did you like the way it opened? Why or why not? Did you feel satisfied by the way things were resolved at the end? Why or why not? How might you have ended the book differently?

  5. If you were to choose a single quote that represents this book for someone who has never read it, what would that quote be and why? What does it show about this book that you feel represents it well? (If you really can’t just choose one, feel free to find a few interrelated quotes.)

Theme-based Questions for Any Book on the Reading List

Guiding Questions for All Books

Consider these questions as you are reading your book. Having answers to them, with quotations from the book (cite the  page number) as supporting evidence will be very helpful when it is time to discuss and assess your reading.

We respond to setbacks with renewed determination

Identify at least two instances where a character demonstrates resilience.

  • In which situations does a character in the novel show resilience?

  • In what way does a character show resilience?

  • How would the story have changed if thatcharacter lacked resilience?

Consider also:

Are there instances in the story where a character lacks resilience?

  • Why did they make that choice?

  • What were the effects of that choice?

  • How could a show of resilience have changed the story?


We are generous and considerate of others

Identify at least two instances where a character shows kindness. 

  • What is the situation where a character chooses to show kindness?

  • How does the character demonstrate kindness?


Consider also:

Are there instances where a character lacks kindness or is unkind?

  • What drove a character to be unkind?

  • What effect did this choice have?

  • How might the story have been different if a character had been kind at that moment?


We do the right thing even when no one is watching

Identify at least two instances where a character shows integrity.

  • How does a character act with integrity?

  • What is the result of their action?

  • In what way is that integrity tested in the story?

Consider also:

How might the story have changed if a character acted without integrity?

  • What is an instance where a character does act without integrity?

  • What is the result of this action?

  • In your opinion, why does the choice to act with integrity matter to the overall story?


We value hard work and are deliberate in what we do

Identify at least two instances where a character shows conscientiousness. 

  • How does the character show a desire to be conscientious?

  • To what goal is the character striving as they demonstrate conscientiousness?

Consider also:

Are there instances in the story where the character does not remain conscientious?

  • How did the character not choose to do what was right?

  • How did this affect the story?

  • If the character had been more diligent and conscientious, how would the story have changed?



Faith, Honesty, Responsibility, Courage: (Year 1 Character Virtues)

    Identify at least two instances where a character demonstrates any of these virtues.

  • How does a character demonstrate Faith, Honesty, Responsibility, or Courage?

  • What was the result of the action?

  • How might the story be different if this virtue was not demonstrated?

Get More out of What you Read

5 Ways to Make Summer Reading Less Painful* (or More Effective)

*(if you don't already love reading)


1. Pick a the Right Book for You.  (and actually read it).

There are 6 books to choose from this year, including Short Fiction, Graphic Memoirs, Essays, and a Novel, in hopes that by letting you pick your book, you'll be more likely to enjoy it.  Ask around (Librarians are a good choice) if you want a recommendation. If you like what you pick, you won't need the rest of this list.

Of course, for some of you, even a book entitled Book that is About Your Exact Favorite Thing in the Entire World is going to seem like homework (or a chore, or a punishment). In that case, read on...

2. Think of it as an opportunity, rather than homework. 

I mean, yes, we are asking you to read a book, and that may not be a choice you'd normally make for vacation, but simply having a positive mindset about doing it will make it less painful.  


If you have any questions at all as to WHY we want people to read over the summer, just ask.


3. Pick a pace that works for you. Pick a place that works for you

Rather than trying to read the whole anthology at once,  try to read a story per week.

If reading's not your favorite, try to spread it out over time;  read a little bit each day instead of putting it off and having to do it all at once.  5 pages (or 15 - 20 minutes) per day will get most readers through any book on the list. 


If reading isn't a normal activity for you, find a comfortable "reading spot" and associate that place with the activity of reading.


If visual reading is a struggle, listen to an Audiobook, or have a friend do a read-aloud.


If you can overcome Phone Separation Anxiety, set your mobile devices aside (unless you're reading on one, in which case, do your best to prioritize reading and minimize other features that may be distractions).  If you really want to involve your device, there are lots of links on this site to help you with your book.



4. Talk with people about what you are reading.   

Reading doesn't have to be a solitary activity.  Even if you aren't reading the same books, you might be able to share ideas about the themes, or someone may be able to help you understand what you are reading. You, and your friend, will get more value out of a discussion than you would if you just Schmoop. Another option: engage via GoodReads.


5. Remember what you've read, so you are ready to discuss it in the fall. 

On that note (ha ha... puns), here's some suggestions about  annotating (the additional act of taking notes on your text as you read...


WHO annotates?

  • You do, whenever you mark your thoughts about what you have read onto a text.

WHERE do you annotate?

  • Directly on to your text.
    • If you don't own your book, use sticky notes, bookmarks, or note cards, or keep a notebook.
    • If it's an audiobook, maybe notecards/journal
    • eReaders usually have great annotation features

WHAT should you annotate?

  • Quotations or passages related to themes and/or details you might need later
  • Words that are unfamiliar to you might need to look up to understand a sentence
  • Questions  that you have about the text, or that you might want to discuss with other people
  • Literary Techniques  similes, metaphors, analogies, etc.

HOW do you annotate?

  • Underline or highlight significant passages, .
  • Circle important words
  • Doodle in the margins
  • Use "?"s to mark stuff you don't understand
  • Whatever works for you

WHEN should you annotate?

  • Any time something really stands out to you as being significant.
  • Any time that it helps you answer a guiding question about the book or our theme.
  • NOT all the time -- the more notes you make, the less useful they eventually become.