Closer Readings Commentary

Summer Reading for Teachers: Staircase to College and Career Readiness

"Books are lighthouses erected in the great sea of time." E.P. Whipple

There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs. —Henry Ward Beecher

The lazy days of summer are here. The work of the school year lies behind.

You are about to enter another dimension … next stop, the Summer Reading Zone!

When I was a high school media specialist, each June after completing my contractual duties and putting the school library into a dormant state, I would reward myself with a sojourn from all-things-school. No lessons, no clock, just two weeks of sunning in the backyard as the trials of the school year evaporated in the summer breeze. Such blissful vegetation was short lived. Around the second week in July, an old stirring would come upon me. While still glued to my lawn chair, I would pluck a book from atop my towering stack of summer reading and happily enter the zone.

This month, as you surface from the rigors of the past school year, dive into EDSITEment’s new portal College and Career Readiness Text Exemplars: Summer Reading for Teachers.

Enjoy a great selection of exemplary authors and texts itemized in Appendix B of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy. Though a number of these exemplars will have crossed your radar at some point in your education, how refreshing it will be to discover them again! This time your encounter with great books will be as teachers with a mission to implement the Common Core. These readings form a spiral staircase for your students as they make the climb to the next level and ascend to college and career readiness.

You’ll find no dull reading here, only examples of fine stories, poetry, drama, and informational texts, including foundational documents of American history and works of great thinkers. Divided into Grades 6–8; Grades 9–10; Grades 11–CCR there are resources under each text to support your efforts to teach reading and writing, and speaking and listening across the curriculum.

Reacquaint yourself with casts of characters that never grow old—friends and favorites that inhabit these readings: High-spirited Jo March and her sidekick Laurie as they engage in adolescent antics, which later evolve into mature affection (Little Women); soft furry Aunt Beast as she extends her healing balm and song of peace to restore an injured Meg (A Wrinkle in Time); resolute Ma and Pa Joad and family as they journey along the Mother Road toward California’s golden promise (The Grapes of Wrath). Rediscover a community of fructifying ideas that still inspire—ideals and concepts that shaped our democracy and contribute to its legacy: Frederick Douglass’s oration delivered on July 5, 1854, which both praises the principles of the Founders and challenges his audience to extend them to black people; FDR’s ambitious statement of the Four Freedoms that people of all nations ought to enjoy; silver-tongued Linda Monk’s engaging commentary on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights ...

Heady stuff to while away the long summer afternoons …

And when you are ready to think about how you will teach these books come fall, EDSITEment’s portal supplements each author and exemplar on this list with a host of resources: related lesson plans; reviewed websites; NEH features; interactives; as well as entries from our Closer Readings blog. You’ll find strategies galore in support of your curriculum. Tap the lessons for challenging activities and the websites for rich resources as you consider how to apply these classic texts to the Common Core State Standards for your grade level students.

Happy Reading!