Closer Readings Commentary

Spiraling up with Summer Reading Selections from EDSITEment!

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

As the old song goes: the “lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer” are upon us. 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 teacher-librarian, each June after completing my contractual duties and putting the school library into a dormant state, I would take a much-needed sojourn from all-things-school. For two weeks—no lessons, no papers to grade, no clock—just blissful vegetation, soaking in the backyard sunshine as the trials of the school year evaporated in the summer breeze.

Then after the 4th of 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, and find yourself looking for good reading material open EDSITEment’s 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 classics will have crossed your radar at some point in your education and teaching, you may find it is refreshing to discover them again! Your encounter as a teacher with a mission to open young minds brings them into new focus. These readings are intended to form a spiral staircase for your students as they make the climb to the next level and ascend to college and career readiness.

Nothing dull here; instead, find many examples of literary masterworks of fiction, poetry, drama, along with some non-fiction informational texts, including foundational documents of American history and works of great thinkers. Heady stuff to while away the long summer days. The portal is divided into three sections: Grades 6–8; Grades 9–10; Grades 11–CCR with engaging resources under each text that will 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—all manner of good guys, villains, brave heroines, and supernatural beings, as well as historic figures that inhabit these readings.

Among these you’ll find a number of fictional friends: 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) among others…

Rediscover a community of fructifying ideas that still inspire. You’ll encounter 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 and much more…

When you are ready to think about how you will teach these books come fall, EDSITEment’s portal supplements each author and exemplary text 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.

EDSITEment’s parent organization, the National Endowment for the Humanities, offers lists of additional title selections of summer reading in both fiction and non-fiction.

Summertime Favorites intended for K–8 readers, this list has proved enormously popular over the years. It can also be viewed by the following age groups:

Non-fiction Booklist” intended for the youngest readers through high school, this list is broken down into five groups of age-appropriate titles:

Happy Summer Reading!