Assigned summer reading has been a (sometimes unwelcome) staple of summer for students for decades, and each year Arlington Public Schools carefully select a series of books that students are required to read over the summer.

The purpose of summer reading is to ensure that students are continuing to build their reading skills during the summer break, and studies have shown that students who do not read over the summer are more likely to see a decline in their reading ability than students who do.

So what books are Arlington students reading this summer?

The books for middle school students range from modern science fiction and fantasy stories, to classic tales that have entertained young readers for more than a century.

The summer reading program for AHS students vary depending on what courses the students plan on taking during the upcoming school year. In addition to honors-level courses and standard courses, rising seniors have a wider variety of options.

“Poetry as Art” is a course centered around, you guessed it, poetry, while “Missing Voices” is centered on contemporary world literature and emphasizing a greater diversity among its authors.
The following is a list of selected literature options for summer break:

Book: The Girl Who Drank The Moon Author: Kelly Barnhill Who’s Reading: sixth-graders

The Girl Who Drank The Moon centers around 13-year-old Xan, who as a child was raised by a witch after being abandoned as an infant. As a baby, the witch accidentally gave Xan moonlight to drink, which grante her extraordinary powers. As she enters adolescence, Xan must learn to harness her power and use it to unite two different worlds.

Book: Treasure Island Author: Robert Louis Stevenson Who’s Reading: seventh-graders

The classic by Robert Louis Stevenson follows young sailor Jim Hawkins who ends up in a quest for treasure aboard the high seas while battling the treacherous sea captain, Long John Silver.

Book: The Boy Who Harnessed The wind Author: William Kamkwamba Who’s Reading: eighth-graders

William Kamkwamba grew up in Malawi on a family farm that was left destitute by drought and famine. Determined to bring electricity and running water to his family, Kamkwamba developed homemade wind turbines that were eventually able to power his home. Kamkwamba’s story of persistence and engineering is detailed in this autobiography.

Book: The Crossover Author: Kwame Alexander Who’s Reading: ninth-graders

The Crossover is a book of poems coming from the perspective of Josh Bell, a 12-year-old basketball star who also embraces rhyming and poetry. The book follows Josh and his twin brother Jordan, as the brothers begin to drift apart socially as they enter adolescence.

    Book: Station Eleven     Author: Emily St. John Mandel     Who’s Reading: 10th-graders

Station Eleven follows an acting troupe who travel from town-to-town in a post-apocalyptic America that has seen most of the population wiped-out by a deadly virus. Young actress Kristen Raymonde finds herself battling a religious zealot, known only as The Prophet, who is bent on controlling what remains left of modern civilization.

    Book: Let the Great World Spin     Author: Colum McCann     Who’s Reading: 11th-graders

Let the Great World Spin centers around a single day in New York City in 1974. While New Yorkers gaze up at French tight-rope walker Philippe Petit who navigates a tight-rope between the recently constructed World Trade Center towers, the novel examines the various stories of the city’s residents, from mothers grieving over the loss of their sons in the Vietnam War, to young prostitutes.

    Book: The Underground Railroad     Author: Colson Whitehead     Who’s Reading: 12th-grade Advanced Placement Students

The Underground Railroad follows Cora, a slave on a Georgia Plantation, and her quest for freedom through the Underground Railroad, depicted in the novel as a literal railroad located underneath the American South. The novel follows Cora across the country as she searches for freedom and a chance to pursue her dreams.

    Book: First They Killed My Father     Author: Loung Ung     Who’s Reading: 12th-grade “Missing Voices” Students

Loung Ung was the daughter of Cambodian government official whose family is disrupted when Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge army gained control of the country. From that point on, Ung would be trained as a child soldier while her siblings were sent to forced labor camps. They Killed My Father depicts the horrors of the Democratic Kampuchea through the eyes of a survivor.