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Summer Reading

PJA MIDDLE SCHOOL SUMMER READING 2020 LIST

Finding One’s Voice  ~  Books about Personal Identity
Click here for a pdf of the info below. 
Click here for the Summer Reading Notes sheet.


  • Choose at least one book to read from the following list; the book should be one that you have not yet read|
    (Please note that in a few cases, two books are listed together--these should be treated as if they are a single title and both books should be read.)
  • IMPORTANT: Read with care and take notes using the template provided at the end of this handout or something similar that allows you to thoughtfully address all the categories listed. . Be sure to complete your Summer Reading Notes prior to the first day of school.
  • If possible, bring a copy of your book/s to Humanities class during the first week of school.
  • Films are optional; feel free to watch one or more of the films listed below.
  • Picture books are also optional; they are a quick read and a wonderful way to expand your understanding
  • An asterisk (*) next to a title indicates it is recommended for advanced readers due to mature content and/or challenging reading level.

Fiction Books:
*The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
*The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams 
Heaven by Angela Johnson
New Kid by Jerry Craft AND White Bird by RJ Palacio
The Outsiders by SE Hinton
*On The Come Up by Angie Thomas (Recommended audio version by Bahni Turpin) 
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
Totally Joe by James Howe

Nonfiction Books:
*Almost American Girl by Robin Ha AND *I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Garib
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
The Circuit AND Breaking Through by Francisco Jimenez
*I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
Stamped: Racism, Anti-racism and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds
Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin
This Promise of Change by Jo Allen Boyce
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

Films:
Akeelah and the Bee (PG)
Bend it Like Beckham (PG-13)
*Dead Poets’ Society (PG)
The Goonies (PG)
Lion (PG-13)
Mad Hot Ballroom (PG)
Rabbit-Proof Fence (PG)
Real Women Have Curves (PG-13)
The Secret of Roan Inish (PG)
Whale Rider (PG-13)

Picture Books:
A Day’s Work by Eve Bunting
After The Fall by Dan Santat
Before She Was Harriet by Lesa Cline-Ransome
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
Drawn Together by Dan Santat
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Emanuel’s Dream by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls
The Girl Who Buried Her Dreams in a Can by Tererai Trent
Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story by Leslea Newman
Going Home by Eve Bunting
Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match by Monica Brown
Midnight Teacher: Lilly Ann Granderson and Her Secret School by Janet Halfman
Morris Mickelwhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima
On the Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Red: A Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall 
So Far from the Sea by Eve Bunting
So Tall Within by Gary Schmidt
Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o
Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
Yard Sale by Eve Bunting

SUMMER READING 2020 DESCRIPTIONS
 


Descriptions are a compilation of information taken from various book review sites and personal recommendations. 
An asterisk indicates the title is recommended for advanced readers due to mature content and/or challenging reading level.

FICTION

*The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation, is determined to take his future into his own hands.  He leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. This book chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

Twelve-year-old Crow has lived her entire life on a tiny, isolated piece of the starkly beautiful Elizabeth Islands in Massachusetts. Abandoned and set adrift in a small boat when she was just hours old, Crow's only companions are Osh, the man who rescued and raised her, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbor across the sandbar.  Crow has always been curious about the world around her, but it isn't until the night a mysterious fire appears across the water that the unspoken question of her own history forms in her heart. Soon, an unstoppable chain of events is triggered, leading Crow down a path of discovery and danger.

*The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. Although gifted with a superbly logical brain, Christopher is autistic. Everyday interactions and admonishments have little meaning for him. Routine, order and predictability shelter him from the messy, wider world. Then, at fifteen, Christopher's carefully constructed world falls apart when he finds his neighbor's dog, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork, and he is initially blamed for the killing.

Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams

There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant--even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence.This deeply sensitive and powerful debut novel tells the story of a thirteen-year-old who must overcome internalized racism and a verbally abusive family to finally learn to love herself.

Heaven by Angela Johnson

At fourteen, Marley knows she has Momma's hands and Pops’s love for ice cream, that her brother doesn't get on her nerves too much, and that Uncle Jack is a big mystery. But Marley doesn't know all she thinks she does.  When the truth is revealed, Marley must struggle with what it means to be adopted, turning to the family she no longer trusts to help her through the dark period of deception and, ultimately, self-discovery.

New Kid by Jerry Craft and White Bird by RJ Palacio

New Kid: Seventh grade African American boy Jordan Banks dutifully travels from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale private Riverdale Academy Day School. As one of the few kids of color in his new school, Jordan feels out of place. He doesn't really fit in with his new classmates, and it begins to feel like his neighborhood friends live in a different world. Jordan finds comfort in his art as he tries to navigate both worlds.

White Bird:  In Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian's grandmother, GrandmÈre. Here, Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with GrandmÈre's heartrending story: how she, a young Jewish girl, was hidden by a family in a Nazi-occupied French village during World War II; how the boy she and her classmates once shunned became her savior and best friend. Sara's harrowing experience movingly demonstrates the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives. 

*On The Come Up by Angie Thomas (Recommend audio version by Bahni Turpin) 

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri's got massive shoes to fill. But it's hard to get your come up when you're labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral . . . for all the wrong reasons. Insightful, unflinching, and full of heart, On the Come Up is an ode to hip hop. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; and about how, especially for young black people, freedom of speech isn't always free.

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

Jude never thought she'd be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven't quite prepared her for starting school in the US--and her new label of "Middle Eastern," an identity she's never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises--there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is. This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton

Ponyboy is pretty sure that he's got things figured out. He knows that he can count on his brothers and he can count on his friends. And when it comes to the Socs—a vicious gang of rich kids who enjoy beating up on "greasers" like him and his friends—he knows that he can count on them for trouble. But one night Ponyboy's world is turned upside down.  S. E. Hinton's classic story of a boy who finds himself on the outskirts of regular society remains as powerful today as it was the day it was first published over 50 years ago.

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

Jade is a 16 year old high-achieving African-American high school student on scholarship at an exclusive, mostly white Portland, Oregon, private school. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. But some opportunities seem to limit Jade’s options rather than expand them. Piecing Me Together explores identity, self-image, bias, privilege, the power of art, and Jade’s ability to speak out and make change

Totally Joe by James Howe

The novel’s innovative format reveals the “alphabiography” of 13 year old Joe Bunch, the gay member of what his group of friends describe as the Seventh Grade Misfits. In this alphabetical survey, assigned by his English teacher, Joe shares his heartfelt, snappy reflections revealing someone mostly comfortable with himself but still struggling with common adolescent issues including his sexuality.
 

NON-FICTION

*Almost American Girl by Robin Ha AND *I Was Their American Dream by Malaka Garib

*Almost American Girl: For as long as she can remember, it's been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn't always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation--following her mother's announcement that she's getting married--Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn't understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn't fit in with her new stepfamily, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to--her mother. Then one day Robin's mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.  

*I Was Their American Dream: A coming-of-age story and a reminder of the thousands of immigrants who come to America in search for a better life for themselves and their children. The daughter of parents with unfulfilled dreams themselves, Malaka navigated her childhood chasing her parents' ideals, learning to code-switch between her family's Filipino and Egyptian customs, adapting to white culture to fit in, crushing on skater boys, and trying to understand the tension between holding onto cultural values and trying to be an all-American kid.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank's remarkable diary has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit. In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding.  In her diary, Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period.

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

At one time, Lew Alcindor was just another kid from New York City with all the usual problems: he struggled with fitting in, with pleasing a strict father, and with overcoming shyness that made him feel socially awkward. But with a talent for basketball, and an unmatched team of supporters, Lew Alcindor was able to transform and to become Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. From a childhood made difficult by racism and prejudice to a record-smashing career on the basketball court as an adult, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's life was packed with "coaches" who taught him right from wrong and led him on the path to greatness. His parents, coaches and others inspired Abdul-Jabbar and sparked him to become an activist for social change. This memoir reveals his drive to find his own path in life.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson shares in vivid poetry what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s. Touching and powerful, each poem reflects her unique experiences as well as her joy in finding her voice through stories, despite being a struggling reader. 

The Circuit AND Breaking Through by Francisco Jimenez 

These two books are collections of easy-to-read autobiographical short stories by Francisco Jimenez, now an established professor at Santa Clara University.  Born in Mexico, Jimenez entered California illegally as a very young child and spent his boyhood alternating between migrant farm work and the classroom. Circuit focuses on Jimenez's early years while Breaking Through is about his teen experiences.

*I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou 

In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These very lessons carried her throughout the hardships she endured later in life. Marvelously told with honesty and Angelou's gift for language and observation.


Maus I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History  by Art Spiegelman 

Told with chilling realism in an unusual comic-book format, Spiegelman relates the effect of the events of the Holocaust on the survivors' later years and upon the lives of the following generation. In addition to revealing his father's painful experiences, Art tries to come to terms with his own life and the burden he bears as a child of a Holocaust survivor. 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

The construct of race has always been used to gain and keep power, to create dynamics that separate and silence. This remarkable reimagining of Dr. Ibram X. Kendi's National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning reveals the history of racist ideas in America, and inspires hope for an antiracist future. It takes you on a race journey from then to now, shows you why we feel how we feel, and why the poison of racism lingers. It also proves that while racist ideas have always been easy to fabricate and distribute, they can also be discredited.  Through a gripping, fast-paced, and energizing narrative written by beloved award-winner Jason Reynolds, this book shines a light on the many insidious forms of racist ideas--and on ways readers can identify and stamp out racist thoughts in their daily lives.

Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin 

Temple Grandin is a gifted animal scientist who has designed one-third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She also lectures widely on autism--because Temple Grandin is autistic, a woman who thinks, feels, and experiences the world in ways that are incomprehensible to the rest of us. Writing from the dual perspectives of a scientist and an autistic person, she tells about her experiences and how she has managed to breach boundaries to function in the outside world.

This Promise of Change by Jo Allen Boyce

In 1956, one year before federal troops escorted the Little Rock 9 into Central High School, fourteen year old Jo Ann Allen was one of twelve African-American students who broke the color barrier and integrated Clinton High School in Tennessee. At first things went smoothly for the Clinton 12, but then outside agitators interfered, pitting the townspeople against one another. Uneasiness turned into anger, and even the Clinton Twelve themselves wondered if the easier thing to do would be to go back to their old school. Jo Ann--clear-eyed, practical, tolerant, and popular among both black and white students---found herself called on as the spokesperson of the group. But what about just being a regular teen? This is the heartbreaking and relatable story of her four months thrust into the national spotlight and as a trailblazer in history.

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

This is the underdog story of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School football team which under the leadership of coach Pop Warner and player Jim Thorpe became known as "the team that invented football." This book highlights the systematic governmental persecution by the government and the players determination and grit, on and off the field, that led them to defeat more privileged schools like Army and Harvard. This is an astonishing underdog sports story—and more. It’s an unflinching look at the U.S. government’s violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures.

FILMS

Akeelah and the Bee (PG)
Akeelah Anderson, a precocious and courageous eleven-year-old girl from south Los Angeles with a gift for words, enters various spelling contests despite the objections of her mother, eventually earning an opportunity to compete for a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (2006)

Bend it Like Beckham (PG-13)
Jesse, a young Indian girl living in London, must choose between adhering to family traditions and attaining super-stardom on the soccer field. (2002)

*Dead Poets' Society (PG)
Shy Todd is sent to boarding school where he meets his room-mate, Neil, who suffers under the thumb of his overbearing father. The two, along with their other friends, meet Professor Keating who inspires in his students a love for poetry and encourages them to seize the day.  Each, in his own way, does this, and is changed for life. (1989)

The Goonies (PG)
A group of kids set out on an adventure in search of pirate treasure that could save their homes from foreclosure. (1985)

Lion (PG-13)
A five year old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, far from his home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia. As an adult, he sets out to find his lost family. (2016)

Mad Hot Ballroom (PG)
In this entertaining documentary, eleven-year-old New York City public school kids journey into the world of ballroom dancing and reveal pieces of themselves and their world along the way. (2005)

Rabbit Proof Fence (PG)
In 1931, three aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their homes to be trained as domestic staff and set off on a trek across the Australian Outback. (2002)

Real Women Have Curves (PG-13)
Ana, a first generation Mexican-American teenager on the verge of becoming a woman, realizes that leaving home to continue her education is essential to finding her place proudly in the world as an American and Chicana. (2002)

The Secret of Roan Inish (PG)
Ten-year-old Fiona is sent to live with her grandparents in a small fishing village in Donegal, Ireland. There she learns the local legend that an ancestor of hers married a Selkie -- a seal who can turn into a human. Years earlier, her baby brother washed out to sea in a cradle, and some think that he is being raised by the seals. When Fiona catches sight of a little boy on the abandoned isle of Roan Inish, she takes a more active role in uncovering the mysteries which abound. (1994)

Whale Rider (PG-13)
A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize. (2002)