Summer Reading

Summer Reading

Years of research on the phenomenon of summer learning loss confirms that reading is important over the summer break. Summer learning loss has gained national attention in major media, all of which highlight student consequences beyond simply losing a few months of knowledge. Over time, these lost months add up to years, making summer learning loss a driving factor in the achievement gap. Summer reading programs can reduce, prevent, and even reverse summer learning loss.

The intent of The Phelps School Summer Reading Program is to allow students to continue to enrich their reading and writing skills over the summer in preparation of the next school year. Students have an opportunity to select books based on their own personal and academic interests. The summer reading lists offers a range of reading choices based on grade-level, topics of interests, and genre. In addition, the selections suggested may also have study guides, audio books, and other supplemental materials available to assist the student in comprehension. Additionally, the assessments provided for the students allow them to check their own understanding and make meaning of their reading through creative and written projects.

Grade Incentive/Extra Credit:

While summer reading is strongly encouraged, there is also an opportunity for any student to earned extra credit in their English class. Completion of one of the options below will earn a student extra credit. There is no limit on how much extra credit can be earned through summer reading. All summer reading assignments are due to their English teacher within seven days of the first English class meeting unless otherwise noted.

Summer Reading by Grade

Middle School students may read books of their own choosing. (There are no specific recommendations for Middle School students.) Students can consult several websites (see below) or your local library for book suggestions. Extra credit will be given to Middle School students who bring a list of books read over the summer to their English teacher by the end of the first week of school with a half-page typewritten “review” of each book they read. The review should have a summary of the plot and main characters, and a full paragraph about whether you would recommend this book to others and why.

There is a list of book recommendations below for students. Students may choose from one of the lists or select books reflecting their own interests. There are several options outlined below that allows students to show what they have learned during their summer reading. Students that wish to receive extra credit should select ONE of the options for the book they read.


Option A: Journal

The purpose of a journal is to record your interactions with the text as you progress through the book. It is a way of recording your responses, positive or negative, and to track your reading. The idea is not to simply summarize what happens in the story, but rather respond, reflect, and track your thoughts.

Select a minimum of ten passages or quotations from your book to respond to, either in a notebook or in a computer document;

Copy the passage/quotation and the page number it is found;

Respond to passage/quotation; try using the prompts provided below:

“The imagery reveals…”

“The setting gives the effect of…”

“The author seems to feel…”

“The tone of this passage is…”

“The character feels…”

“This is ironic because…”

“Something I noticed and appreciated about this part is….”

“This reminds me of…”


Option B: Rewrite the Reading

Your assignment is to rewrite the last chapter for the book you have chosen to read. Rewrite the ending of the story, changing what happens. Your new ending must be original, credible, and realistic for your book. For example, if your book is about the American Revolutionary War, you cannot suddenly introduce space travel or characters who would not have been alive at that time.

Your new ending must be written in the same style and tone as the author;

Include use of dialogue

Be at least 2-typewritten, double-spaced pages using 12-font

You must include a final paragraph explaining why you chose to change the ending the way you did and why this new ending is plausible for the book.


Option C: Character Diary

Your assignment is to choose a character from the book you have chosen to read an to create diary entries for your chosen character. The diary entries for that character depict events happening in the story – both seen and unseen in the book itself. You are writing it as if you were the character, from their point of view and perspective, in the first-person narrative form. Each entry should be a paragraph in length and the diary should be two typed-written pages, double-spaced. Diary entries should be in three categories:

Descriptive: This style of writing will use visual and sensory images to create a lasting impression on your reader. You can describe a place, a room, an object, a person, or any event significant to your character;

Reflective: This style of writing will describe in detail what a significant event meant to your character personally, how it has changed them personally, what lessons were learned, and how will they apply the experience in the future.


Option D: Book Report Essay

The assignment is to analyze the plot, characters, and setting of the book you choose to read. Here are questions that will to be addressed in your essay:

What was the story’s major conflict? Identify and describe the protagonist and antagonist in the story and what problem existed. What did you learn from the conflict and the resolution of the story?

Describe the main characters in the book – their personality, behaviors, and relationships with other characters. Which character did you most identify with and why?

What was the story’s setting? Describe when it took place and where. Describe ethe story’s mood or attitude. Is it cheerful, pessimistic?

Would you recommend this story and why/why not?


Option E: Oral Presentations

Students may choose to make an oral presentation to their English class at a time convenient for the teacher. The oral presentation must be approximately five minutes in length and include the following components: a summary of the plot, a description of the setting, a description of the main characters and an explanation of the theme. The conclusion must include the student’s personal opinion of the book. Students must submit a written outline of the presentation to the teacher three days prior to the scheduled presentation. Students must make arrangements with the English teacher to schedule a date and time for this oral presentation. Students may use Power Point slides with appropriate graphics as part of their oral presentation. Students need to inform their teacher by the end of the first week of class that they wish to make a presentation.


Option F: Technology/Media Presentations

Students may choose to make a presentation using technology and other available media. Students may complete a videotaped presentation and submit it to their English teacher. A video presentation must be approximately five minutes in length and include the following components: a summary of the plot, a description of the setting, a description of the main characters and an explanation of the theme. The conclusion must include the student’s opinion of the book.


Sites to help you find books:

https://www.ala.or  Summer Reading Lists from the American Library Association School Library Journal Book Recommendations Project Gutenberg (free downloads of over 60,000 books) Thousands of e-books for Kindle, tablet, or online reading

Note: There are sites for purchase of new and used books, such as,, to name but a few. Students should consult their local libraries or sites that have free downloads of books.

Book List Suggestions

*Students may choose from the list or select their own  books to read

Grades 9 and 10:

Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Riggs

Rocket Boys, Hickam

The Good Earth, Buck

Kindred, Butler

The Outsiders, Hinton

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Smith

The Fault in Our Stars, Green

Speak, Anderson

Life of Pi, Martel

Black Boy, Wright

The Blind Side, Lewis

Hillbilly Elegy, Vance

A Raisin in the Sun, Hansberry

The Scarlett Letter, Hawthorne

Revolutionary Summer, Ellis

The Other Wes Moore, Moore

Hoops, Myers

Miracle on 49th Street, Lupica


Grades 11-12

Invisible Man, Ellison

Brave New World, Huxley

Sense and Sensibility, Austen

The Natural, Malamud

The Book Thief, Zusak

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, Bruni

The Boys in the Boat, Brown

The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain

The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Haley

A Confederacy of Dunces, Toole

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Stevenson

Fahrenheit 451, Bradbury

Prep for SAT/ACT

Summer is a good time for students to start preparing for standardized tests like the SAT and ACT. There are many useful resources on the Internet to help students, many of which are free. Students going into grades 10,11, and 12 are encouraged to use some time over the summer to prepare for these tests, whether you intend to apply to a “test-optional” college or university.

Resources: for SAT and ACT Preparation

There are several online sources for students to prepare for the SAT and ACT. Below are some free online sources that students could consider. There are also study guides that can be purchased at several online vendors if a student wished to have a hard copy of practice tests.

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