Summer Learning


These optional summer packets will help maintain previously learned skills and prepare your child for next school year. 

New students: You will receive your iXL account once school starts. If you would like to participate in the optional packets, you may contact iXL to create your own account.

Middle School - required

Grade Level: incoming fifth graders
Book Title: Hatchet by Greg Paulsen (ISBN 9781416936473)
Guidelines for Reading: Students are required to annotate given the guidelines on this bookmarkA bookmark and instructions for this process were provided during the school year. Fifth grade will start the year with this novel and a mini project focused on Hatchet, so plan to read the book during the latter part of the summer so students can remember the book.

Grade Level: incoming sixth graders
Book Title: Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (ISBN 9780545846615)
Guidelines for Reading: Sixth graders at Brownell Talbot are asked to read Save Me A Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan for their summer reading. This will be the first novel unit, so reading the book closer to the time school begins is encouraged.  

Annotating while reading will become a staple in sixth grade. Annotations are interactions with the text as you read. Students are encouraged to write down their thoughts in the margins and spaces of the pages. Here are two YouTube videos you can watch to assist with annotations: 

In Save Me A Seat, you will find that a new friend could be sitting right next to you - and you don’t even realize it. Over the course of the first week of school at Albert Einstein Elementary, two boys in Mrs. Beam’s class will find how much alike they really are and how there really is more than meets the eye.

  • Joe and Ravi, our protagonists (or main characters), come from different home lives and backgrounds and bring different experiences to their classroom. What are their differences? How do the two protagonists view one another at the beginning of the novel? In the middle? At the end of the novel?
  • Each event in the novel is told from both Joe’s perspective and Ravi’s perspective. How can the same event be seen so differently by two people who were both there? How does this apply to our daily lives?

Joe and Ravi share an antagonist (or adversary) in a boy named Dillon Samreen. How does their need to overcome this shared adversary lead Joe and Ravi to team up and overcome their difficulties with Dillon?

Grade Level: incoming seventh graders
Book Title: The Giver by Lois Lowry (ISBN 9780544336261) and Wreck This Journal by Keri Smith (ISBN 9780143131663)
Guidelines for Reading: Students should follow the specific, detailed directions from Mrs. Vetter. General annotation guidelines on this bookmark should also be followed.

The Wreck This Journal activity will help students prepare for journaling assignments by stimulating and developing creativity. This should be a fun exercise that encourages students to think outside the box. View an example journal.

Grade Level: incoming eighth graders
Book Title: Hiroshima by John Hershey (ISBN 9781684116881), The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (ISBN 9780142407332), and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (ISBN 9780060935467)

The following considerations and questions are provided to guide the students’ reading to give some direction to their efforts toward annotating the texts. 

Hersey wrote Hiroshima after visiting the Japanese city one year following the dropping of the first atomic bomb. The work is identified as one of the best examples of “new journalism” that allows a reporter to go beyond the limiting fundamental journalistic principles of reporting the who, what, where, and why of stories and to explore the human component. Hiroshima is an account of seven bombing survivors and their distinct stories. Because it exposes the lasting horrific effects of atomic warfare it was not warmly received by the military industrial complex.  

When reading this novel consider:

  • The individual experiences of each of the seven principle characters. How are they different? How are they the same?
  • What glimpses do readers get of Japanese culture, values, and attitudes?
  • John Hersey admits to having felt both “despair and relief” when he heard that the bomb had dropped on Hiroshima, but we do not know how he felt after he researched and wrote the book. Based on information in Hiroshima, be prepared to make a case for Hersey’s either being for or against the decision to drop the bomb.

The Outsiders was published in 1967 when the author was 17 years old. Its appeal stems primarily from the 15-year-old narrator whose narrative voice is starkly genuine. When reading this novel consider: 

  • Which events and scenes in the novel support the idea that the book is about the loss of innocence? 
  • How do the characters in the novel help the reader to reimagine the definition of family?

To Kill a Mockingbird will be treated in a four-week unit of study. I recommend that, of the three books required, you read this one last. To Kill a Mockingbird was published in 1960 during the Civil Rights Movement and is credited with helping raise awareness of racial injustice in America. 

When reading this novel consider: 

  • What scenes/events in the novel connect it to the Civil Rights Movement? 
  • If the novel teaches lessons, what lessons can be drawn from it?

UPPER SCHOOL - required

Grade Level: incoming ninth - twelfth graders
Book Title: Arriving Today by Christopher Mims (ISBN 978-0062987952) and this documentary by the Wall Street Journal 
Guidelines for Reading: All incoming ninth - twelfth graders are being asked to read the same book. This is an intentional step to bring all Upper School students' attention to engage around the global shipping process and the complex system that moves products all over the world. Students will have the opportunity to work with this theme in their English and math classes. Details regarding the assignment and response questions can be found here.   

Grade Level: incoming eleventh grade students in AP United States History
Book Title: A Larger Memory (A History of our Diversity, with Voices) by Ronald Takaki (ISBN 978-0316311625)
Guidelines for Reading: Mr. Coffey will reach out over the summer to assign selections from the book, to begin the process of studying American History.

Grade Level: incoming tenth grade students in both AP European History and Modern World History
Book Title: 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C Mann (ISBN 978-0307278241)
Guidelines for Reading: Mr. Smith will assign each student one section of the overall book to read. Notes, big ideas, and interesting factoids will be compiled and be used in our early studies of the Age of Exploration in the fall of 2021.