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Summer Reading

Middle School Summer Reading 2018

“If I am only for myself, what am I?”

Listening to the Voices of Others

  • Choose at least one book to read from the following list; the book should be one that you have not yet read.
  • Complete your reading prior to the first day of school.
  • Jot down thoughts or questions that come up when you are reading. You will be using these notes and in-class discussion to complete your first Humanities assignment of the year.
  • Films are optional; feel free to watch one or more of the films listed below.
  • An asterisk (*) next to a title indicates it is recommended for advanced readers due to mature content and/or challenging reading level.

Click here for descriptions of the books

Fiction Books:
Amal Unbound by Aisha Saaed
Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez
Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth
*Cry of the Giraffe: Based on a True Story by Judy Oron
Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet by Andrea Cheng
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisnero
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
The Misfits by James Howe
*Refugee by Alan Gratz
Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples|
*A Step from Heaven by An Na

Nonfiction Books:
*The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
*Being Jazz, My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
*Black Boy by Richard Wright
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
Drawing from Memory by Allen Say
El Deafo by Cece Bell
Facing the Lion: Growing up Maasai on the African Savanna by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston
Gay America: Struggle for Equality by Linus Alsenas
A Young People’s History of the United States, Volumes 1 or 2 by Howard Zinn

Films:
The Help (2011, PG-13)
Hidden Figures (2016, PG)
The Imitation Game (2014, PG-13)
Philomena (2013, PG-13)
Radio (2003, PG)
Right Footed (2015, not rated)
Skin (2008, PG-13)
Stand and Deliver (1988, PG)
Temple Grandin (2010, not rated)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, not rated)
Under the Same Moon (2007, PG-13)

Descriptions

Descriptions are a compilation of information taken from Amazon.com and personal recommendations.

*An asterisk indicates the title is recommended for advanced readers due to mature content and/or challenging reading level.

FICTION

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saaed
This easy-to-read true-to-life modern-day story of Amal, a Pakistani girl, who fights to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude, celebrates the power of literacy and community building. As Amal navigates an unfamiliar social hierarchy in the landlord’s lavish estate and comes face to face with the family’s nefarious dealings, she joins together with the other servants to fight the status quo.

Before We Were Free by Julia Alvarez
Anita de la Torre never questioned her freedom living in the Dominican Republic. But by her 12th birthday in 1960, most of her relatives have emigrated to the United States, her Tío Toni has disappeared without a trace, and the government’s secret police terrorize her remaining family because of their suspected opposition of el Trujillo’s dictatorship. From renowned author Julia Alvarez comes an unforgettable story about adolescence, perseverance, and one girl’s struggle to be free.

Boys Without Names by Kashmira Sheth
Eager to find work after his hungry family arrives in Mumbai, 11-year-old Gopal ends up locked in a one-room "factory" making beaded frames with five other boys. Gopol tries to do the right thing but suspense mounts as it becomes clear that escape from the sweatshop will not be easy; the other boys need to be convinced. Storytelling is the key to winning them over, and Sheth includes bits of tales both familiar and new.

*Cry of the Giraffe: Based on a True Story by Judy Oron
One girl's harrowing trek from exile and slavery to hope in a new land -- all based on a true story. In the early 1980s, thousands of Ethiopian Jews fled the civil unrest, famine and religious persecution of their native land. Wuditu and her family risk their lives to make this journey, which leads them to a refugee camp in Sudan, where they are separated. Only her dream of one day being reunited with her family gives her strength -- until the arrival of a stranger heralds hope and a new life in Israel.

Etched in Clay: The Life of Dave, Enslaved Potter and Poet by Andrea Cheng
In this novelized biography in verse, Cheng reveals the life of Dave (his only name), an enslaved nineteenth-century potter and poet. Owned by various members of the same family, Dave became a master potter as a young man. Equally significant is the fact that Dave could read and write. He blatantly defied South Carolina’s slave-literacy laws by often signing his pots, jugs, and jars, or adding simple verses to them.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisnero
Told in a series of vignettes – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous – it is the story of a young Latina girl growing up in Chicago, inventing for herself who and what she will become. Acclaimed by critics, beloved by readers of all ages, and translated all over the world, The House on Mango Street is the remarkable story of Esperanza Cordero first published in 1984.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
For all the ten years of her life, Ha has only known Saigon. But now that the Vietnam War has reached her home, Ha and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls. In America, Ha discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape and the strength of her very own family. Told in captivating verse, this is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing.

The Misfits by James Howe
A high spirited cast brings James Howe's book about junior high school politics and name calling to life with narrator Bobby Goodspeed leading the way. He belongs to the Gang of Five, which (ironically) is made up of four kids who consider themselves misfits. The effects of stereotyping and labeling are revealed in an upbeat, reassuring way that ultimately celebrates individuality.

*Refugee by Alan Gratz
Gratz presents three interrelated and truly harrowing stories about survival in this emotional novel. Josef is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany, Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994, and Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. Filled with devastating loss and ample evidence of resilience, these memorable stories give voice to current refugee crises.

Shabanu, Daughter of the Wind by Suzanne Fisher Staples
Life is both sweet and cruel to strong-willed young Shabanu, whose home is the windswept Cholistan Desert of Pakistan. The second daughter in a family with no sons, she’s been allowed freedoms forbidden to most Muslim girls. But when a tragic encounter with a powerful landowner ruins the marriage plans of her older sister, Shabanu is called upon to sacrifice everything she’s dreamed of in order to uphold her family's honor.

*A Step from Heaven by An Na
When four-year-old Young Ju first hears the words Mi Gook-Korean for "America"-she is sure that they mean "Heaven." But when her family moves to Southern California the following year, she finds her transition from life in Korea far from easy. Then her father crosses a frightening line in his cruelty, and Young Ju must take action that sets her mother, younger brother and herself on the path to yet another new life in America.

NON-FICTION

*The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime that Changed Their Lives
by Dashka Slater

With a journalist’s eye for detail, Slater artfully unfolds a layered true story about two teens whose lives intersect with painful consequences. Sasha is a white teen living in the middle-class foothills and attending a small private school. Richard is a black teen living in the crime-plagued flatlands and attending a large public one. Their paths overlap daily on Bus #57, but one afternoon a single reckless act changes everything.

*Being Jazz, My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
Jazz Jennings is one of the youngest and most prominent voices in the national discussion about gender identity. At the age of five, Jazz transitioned to life as a girl, with the support of her parents and has been in a public spotlight ever since. In her remarkable memoir, Jazz reflects on these very public experiences and how they have helped shape the mainstream attitude toward the transgender community.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
In 1942, with Nazis occupying Holland, thirteen-year-old Anne Frank and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. Anne’s remarkable diary, discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, has since become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

*Black Boy by Richard Wright
Black Boy, written in 1945, is Richard Wright's memorable account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human suffering.

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 writing stories, despite being a young struggling reader.

Drawing from Memory by Allen Say
Part memoir, part graphic novel, part history book, Drawing from Memory chronicles the experiences of cartoonist and Caldecott medalist Allen Say (who now lives in Portland) as an artist during World War II. In the book he describes his relationship with his mentor Noro Shinpei, Japan's leading cartoonist.

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.

Facing the Lion: Growing up Maasai on the African Savanna by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton
Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton gives a firsthand look at growing up in Kenya as a member of a tribe of nomads whose livelihood centers on the raising and grazing of cattle. His mischievous antics as a young Maasai cattle herder, his coming-of-age initiation, boarding school escapades, soccer success, and journey to America for college are all included in Lekuton's riveting text which combines exotic details of nomadic life with the universal experience and emotions of a growing boy.

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston
Jeanne Wakatsuki was seven years old in 1942 when her family was uprooted from their home and sent to live at Manzanar internment camp--with 10,000 other Japanese Americans. This book tells the true story of one spirited family's attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention . . . and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States.

Gay America: Struggle for Equality by Linas Alsenas
This eminently readable work written for middle and high school students highlights the history of gays and lesbians in the U.S. Beginning with the Victorian period and following with five more chapters covering the 20th and 21st centuries through 2006. Profusely illustrated with archival images, the groundbreaking Gay America reveals how gay men and women have lived, worked, and loved for the past 125 years.

A Young People’s History of the United States, Volumes 1 or 2 by Howard Zinn
A Young People's History of the United States brings to US history the viewpoints of workers, slaves, immigrants, women, Native Americans, and others whose stories, and their impact, are rarely included in books for young people. Volume 1 covers the time period from Columbus to the Spanish-American War; Volume 2 covers Class Struggle to the War on Terror. Both are designed for students 11 and older and are immensely readable.

FILMS

The Help (2011, PG-13)
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.

Hidden Figures (2016, PG)
The story of a team of female African-American mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the U.S. space programs.

The Imitation Game (2014, PG-13)
An intense and haunting portrayal of a brilliant, complicated man, mathematician Alan Turing, who during World War II tries to crack the enigma code with help from fellow mathematicians.

Philomena (2012, PG-13)
A political journalist picks up the story of a woman's search for her son who was taken away from her decades ago after she became pregnant and was forced to live in a convent.

Radio (2003, PG-13)
The story of a high school coach and the developmentally challenged man whom he took under his wing.

Right Footed (2015, not rated)
Jessica Cox was born without arms as a result of a birth defect, but managed to overcome many physical and emotional challenges to become fully independent. This documentary follows her journey from motivational speaker to advocate for people with disabilities.

Skin (2008, PG-13)
Based on the true story of a black girl who was born to two white Afrikaner parents in South Africa during the apartheid era.

Stand and Deliver (1988, PG)
The story of Jaime Escalante, a high school teacher who successfully inspired his dropout-prone students to learn calculus.

Temple Grandin (2010, not rated)
A biopic of Temple Grandin, an autistic woman who has become one of the top scientists in the humane livestock handling industry.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962, not rated)
Atticus Finch, a lawyer in the Depression-era South, defends a black man against an undeserved rape charge and his kids against prejudice.

Under the Same Moon (2007, PG-13)
After his grandmother passes away, nine-year-old Carlitos embarks on a journey in a desperate attempt to reunite with his mother.