AIS Middle School Summer Reading Assignments for English Classes 2016

As you all go off for a summer of relaxation and fun, be sure to take along some good books to fill in the quiet spots of your days. We’ll return in the fall with books to discuss and experiences to share. We strongly encourage you to read for fun this summer and to take the time to discover some new worlds in a good book. If you would like more information about the books on this list, please go to There you will find a synopsis of each book and perhaps some editorial reviews that may be helpful in determining whether this is a book you might enjoy. If you like a particular book, please feel free to read other books by the same author. As you will note, many of the books on the free-choice list are recently published. If you want to read more classic literature, please feel free to do so. Parents, we encourage you to read along with your daughters and to discuss the books with them.

All Middle School students are required to read one grade-level assigned book and a minimum of four free-choice books from the list of recommended titles on the AIS Summer Reading Wiki (any list), books by authors on those lists, or works of classic literature. At least one free-choice book must be non-fiction.

Summer Assignment for all Students:
Prepare a typed or neatly written (blue or black ink; 5th graders may use pencil) letter to your future class, explaining four of your self-selected summer reading books. Include the following in your letter:
  • The title and author of each book that you read (list your non-fiction selection first);
  • What your favorite reading selection is from among your four books and why;
  • Your ideas on books that should or should not be on the list and why;
  • Optional: Share your experience with other books you read.

Be prepared to hand in your letter on the first day of school.

Assigned Book For Students Entering 5th Grade:
Out of My Mind (Sharon M. Draper) – ISBN # 978-1416971719

Assignment: Born with cerebral palsy, ten-year-old Melody has never spoken a word but has a photographic memory. Her brain records everything as she uses her five senses to experience the world around her. As you read, find a sentence or a phrase that appeals to one of the five senses—taste, touch, sight, hearing, or smell. Mark the phrase and note the page number. Find one more. Mark that one, too, and note its page number. (Post-It notes are perfect for this task.) When you return to school in September, you will be asked to do an assignment on using the senses.

Assigned Book For Students Entering 6th Grade:
Fever 1793 (Laurie Halse Anderson) – ISBN # 978-0689848919

Assignment: As you read this book, think of what gift you would give Mattie and at what point in the story. It should be a gift that you think you really could give her if you lived in 1793. Create the gift or a picture of the gift and write a short (2-4 sentence) caption of (1) why you would give it to Mattie, (2) when you would give it to Mattie, and (3) how you think she would respond to it. Include a page number. Please bring this with you on the first day of English class.

Assigned Book For Students Entering 7th Grade:
Walk Two Moons (Sharon Creech) – ISBN # 978-0060560133

Assignment: As you read the book, be aware of the two stories being told and how they connect to one another. On three different large index cards, write the following titles: Love, Tragedy, Memory. Then, on each card, write at least 4 page numbers where you see an example of love, tragedy, or memory affecting a character. Beside each page number, jot a note about what the character is doing or thinking because of love, a tragedy, or a memory. It is okay to use some (but not all) of your page numbers on more than one card. You will be using these cards to help you on your first assignment of the year.

Assigned Book For Students Entering 8th Grade:
Hungry Hearts (Anzia Yezierska) – ISBN # 978-0141180052 or Kindle edition

Assignment: The short stories in this collection allow us to understand the difficulties immigrants faced living in New York’s Lower East Side in the early 1900s. As you read, note their living and working conditions as well as the way the non-immigrant community treated them.

Part 1: Many Jews left Russia and Russian-occupied Poland in the late 1800s because of poor treatment from the Tsar and other government officials. Before you start reading this collection of stories, find the answers to the following questions:
•What is a tsar?
•What is a Cossack?
•What is anti-Semitism?
•What is a pogrom?

Part 2: Take notes on five stories. You may consider focusing on some of the following questions:
•What challenges do the characters face?
•What are their daily lives like? (Living conditions, working conditions, community support.)
•How do non-immigrants see them?
•What kind of lives are they looking for?

Part 3: Immigrants like Anzia Yezierska and the characters in her stories have shaped this country, and the experience of immigration or migration shapes people’s lives. (Immigration means moving to a new country, emigration means moving away from a country, and migration means moving from any place to another, even within the same country.) What do you know about the story of YOUR past? Interview a family member or family members from either side of your family. Investigate your family’s immigration to the United States, OR your family’s migration from any one place to another in the past (as far back as you can). Find out any information you can about the migration of your own family. You might use some of the following interview questions: When did they move? Why? Who went, and who didn’t’? What did they bring? What or whom did they leave behind? What difficulties did they face? How did they travel? What jobs did they have? What did they do for fun? What traditions were important to them? What kind of food did they like? What were they like – what were their characters?

Make notes about what you discover. You do not need to type these notes, and they can be sloppy, but you should collect plenty of detailed information. Also, find at least one artifact about what you learn: a family photograph, letter, passport, postcard, etc. Bring your interview notes and your artifact (or a copy) to class when your English teacher tells you to do so.