Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Curtis High School Summer Reading List

Isn't it pretty?
In my second year of teaching at Curtis High School I was asked to be a part of pretty incredible program where I had the opportunity to teach the same group of students for three years of high school. It changed everything about me as a teacher and as a person. I connected with those students in a way that just isn't possible when you have a class for one semester and then they are gone. Even though I was their math teacher, I wanted to know about what was going on during their entire day. Jokingly, when they would ask why I was so interested, I would tell them to just think of me as their "in-house mommy," which, over the years, is exactly what I became.

Anyway, it was because of this desire to be a part of their everything, that I grabbed a copy of the school's summer reading list. I talked to my freshmen about what they would read for their sophomore year and asked them what they read the year before. The responses lacked enthusiasm. The students did not take this list seriously. They said all they had to do was "take a test" and "it didn't count that much, anyway," so they what they read, if anything, didn't really matter. Now, I was wise enough to know to take everything they say with a grain of salt, but the fact of the matter was, whether the grade did have a major impact or not, this assignment didn't count that much to them.

I looked at the list and there was little I could do in the ways of offering advice, since I had only read a few of the titles provided, so I made a decision: I was going to read these books.

I had a new class of freshmen coming in, this group was going to be sophomores, and the year after that they'd be juniors: I would read through as many of the books as I could, so I could bug them about these books in September! (Yes, I occasionally moonlight as an evil genius!)

As was the case for most of my "big lessons," this started out as something for my students and ended up being a wonderful gift to myself. I never read as much as I did that summer. I plowed through books - some were wonderful, some were typical "school" books, but every one had something to offer. I loved that experience. In fact, reflecting upon it now a decade later, I can not remember what the ultimate impact of this project was on my students, but I know it forever changed me.

This year I am going to attempt to do it again. This time with no students (unless I get some virtual volunteers via the Internet!!), and with the new Summer 2012 Summer Reading List that has changed so dramatically it includes TWENTY-SIX books I have not read and only eleven that I have!

So, without any further adieu, I give you the:


For the general population of Curtis High School students, not in IB, SIS or AP classes (which have their own instructions), the assignment is to read one book from Category A and one book from Category B.

Incoming Freshmen
Category A
Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
Game by Walter Dean Meyers
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
Cut by Patricia McCormick
The Heroes of Olympus Book One by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Theif by Rick Riordan

Category B
Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
The King Must Die by Mary Renault
The Afterlife by Gary Soto
The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
Sea Monsters by Rick Riordan

Current Freshmen (entering Sophomores Sept. 2012)
Category A
The Running Dream by Wandelin Van Draanen
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Catching Fire (Book Two) by Suzanne Collins

Category B
Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Color of Fire by Ann Rinaldi
Days of Obligation: An Argument With My Mexican Father by Richard Rodriguez
The Pearl by John Steinbeck
Mockingjay (Book Three) by Suzanne Collins

Current Sophomores (entering Junior year Sept. 2012)
Category A
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
Dangerous Angels by Francesca Lia Block
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson

Category B
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
The Usual Rules by Joyce Maynard
The Chosen by Chaim Potok
Sold by Patricia McCormick

Current Juniors (entering Senior year Sept. 2012)
Category A
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Little Bee by Chris Cleave
The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green

Category B
Lush Life by Richard Price
What Happened to Lani Garver by Carol Plum-Ucci
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau by E. Lockhart

Here comes the crazy part: Are you with me? How many of these books have you read? If you took on this challenge, how many books would you have to read this summer? Do you want to follow the assignment and just select one book from each category? Do you want to tackle one grade? Do you go to Curtis? If so, which books are you reading this summer?

Let me know in the comments and we'll make up a fun summer reading party!

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