Literary summer: Titles to make students lifelong readers

Published: Saturday, July 13, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, July 12, 2013 at 2:54 p.m.

Reading is not for the faint of heart.

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Summer reading lists should include a variety of book choices.


Sunshine State Young Readers Award Program

Recommended reading for third to fifth grade:
“Double Dog Dare” by Lisa Graff
“The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook” by Joanne Rocklin
“Glory Be” by Augusta Scattergood
“The Year of the Book” by Andrea Cheng
“Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O'Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind” by Tom Angleberger
Recommended reading for middle school students:
“Chomp” by Carl Hiaasen
“One for the Murphys” by Lynda Hunt
“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer
“The False Prince” by Jennifer A Nielsen
“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio


Alachua County Schools

Recommended reading for high school students:
Ninth grade
“Divergent” by Veronica Roth
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
“The Call of the Wild” by Jack London
“A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon
“The Fellowship of the Ring” by J.R.R. Tolkein
10th grade
“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie
“The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini
“Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins
“Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” by Frederick Douglass
“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
11th grade
“The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
“A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry
“Invisible Man” by Ralph Ellison
“The Handmaid's Tale” by Margaret Atwood
“Candide” by Voltaire
“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
“The Red Badge of Courage” by Stephen Crane
12th grade
“Animal Farm” by George Orwell
“The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde
“Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontė
“Macbeth” by William Shakespeare
“Anthem” by Ayn Rand
“The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” by Michael Lewis
“The Fire Next Time” by James Baldwin

With every turn of the page, readers fight dystopias, dark powers and death. Each year, students must face these challenges as they take on their summer reading lists.

While some classics like "Pride and Prejudice" and "Call of the Wild" remain summer reading list staples, new books are added.

Summer reading lists should include a variety of book choices, said Jane Townsend, a University of Florida associate professor of English education.

"A lot of kids don't know how to go to the library and choose a good book, so they need help with choices," she said. "Books with different characters and backgrounds make it more likely that kids can see themselves in the characters they're reading about, and [they] become more engaged in the reading."

Sunshine State Young Readers, a reading-motivation program, offers a list of recommended books for middle school and elementary school students.

On the list this summer is "Double Dog Dare" by Lisa Graff for students in third to fifth grade.

In "Double Dog Dare," two fourth-grade enemies begin a dare war only to find they have something in common.

"Wonder" by R.J. Palacio, which is about a boy with a facial deformity who just wants to be treated like everyone else, is recommended for middle school students.

Gainesville High School freshmen are expected to read Veronica Roth's dystopian novel "Divergent," which follows the story of a teenager as she finds her place in a society divided by virtues.

The novel will be making its film debut in 2014.

While some students may yearn for a summer without schoolwork, summer reading is important, said Karen Clarke, director of secondary curriculum for Alachua County Public Schools.

"Anytime you have to go two or three months without doing something, you lose a little bit of skill," she said. "It's always important to work on your reading skills."

Sixth-grade world history students attending Michele Milinkovic's class at Howard W. Bishop Middle School are required to read "The Red Pyramid" by Rick Riordan.

Milinkovic said she chose the book, based in Egypt, so her students would better understand the country.

"It will give us something more in-depth to talk about once we get to the Egypt unit," she said.

Juniors in Eastside High School's Advanced Placement-International Baccalaureate English Literature class are required to read "Invisible Man," "Candide" and "The Handmaid's Tale."

Reading these classics will help students better understand themselves and the world, said Sarah Reynierson, the school's AP/IB English Literature teacher.

"It's good for them to encounter these books in the summer before we get together so they can form their own opinions," she said.

Although elementary school students do not have required summer reading, the Alachua County Library District provides reading suggestions. Some of the recommended books for elementary school students include "The Aviary" by Kathleen O'Dell and "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo.

Diana Lagotic, the director of elementary curriculum for Alachua County Public Schools, said summer reading will improve students' fluency, vocabulary and comprehension skills.

"We want them to read as much as they can, and read for enjoyment," she said. "We want them to develop a love for reading."

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