Gooroo Summer Reading List
As the summer approaches, it is time to begin planning our summer reading lists! This time of year can offer a beautiful opportunity to enter new worlds and discover new voices. Whichever grade you are, I hope that in June you will prioritize reading.
The summer is an optimal time to get a break from your coursework reading list. It’s time to break free from your routine and embark on journeys to new physical and emotional landscapes. Given the pandemic outbreak, most of us are going to be spending more time at home this summer. Reading can offer escape and inspiration. Here are some books that you should add to your summer reading list.
For elementary school readers
We are all living through a time of uncertainty. Some books for younger readers that could provide comfort and spark wonder are From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. E.L. Konigsburg’s timeless, acclaimed novel follows two siblings, who run away from home and hatch a plan to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It is a riveting read for young students, because it highlights the resourcefulness and ingenuity of young minds and also promotes collaboration and compromise between siblings. In addition, it takes readers through the museum and introduces them to historical pieces of art. During a summer when museums may not be accessible, this book could be a wonderful substitute.
Island of the Blue Dolphins is another delicious summer read. It too promotes independence and creativity. When the main character Karana, a twelve-year old girl, is marooned on an island, she must figure out how to survive on her own. O’Dell based the story on the true story of Juana Maria.
For middle school readers
Two books that are important for all middle schoolers to add to their summer reading lists are The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. The House on Mango Street tells the story of twelve year old Esperanza Cordero and her experiences growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago. Cisneros’ lyrical vignette style is sure to inspire and change the way that middle school readers conceptualize the possibilities of language. The book explores coming of age in an environment of uncertainty, the promise of life beyond, and our relationships with the past.
Mildred D. Taylor’s incredible work is a must read for all middle schoolers. There are sequels to Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry so readers can look forward to continuing their relationship with the compelling, young narrator of Cassie Logan, after they have finished the last page. Cassie details life in southern Mississippi, during the Great Depression. She illuminates the treacherousness of land and the horrifying realities of racism.
For high school readers
During this summer, I hope that many high schoolers will delve into My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. My Brilliant Friend is the first novel of the Neapolitan Series. It explores the landscape of 1950s Naples through the retrospective gaze of narrator Elena. Ferrante is a pseudonymous author, and her work explores the complexities of friendship, class, education, and gender. The whole series follows Elena and her best friend Lila through the entireties of their live.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a book that everyone should read in high school and reread at various stages of life. It is an essential addition to the summer reading list. In her stunning autobiographical debut, Maya Angelou explores her early years, illuminating trauma, racism, and the power of language. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a stunning entryway to Angelou’s illustrious catalogue. I encourage teenage readers to additionally delve into Angelou’s poetry and the six other works in her autobiographical series.