Summer reading assignments for middle school students is nothing new. Schools provide a list of books and the students select a few to read or are assigned one required book to read to prepare for the upcoming school year. Unity Charter School took a deeper dive into their summer reading assignments and made them more diverse and inclusive than ever.
Ezra Hyland, teacher educator at the University of Minnesota and responsible for the University's African-American Read-In (AARI) program notes, “When you have children in school and the literature doesn’t look like them, it doesn’t sound like them, it does not deal with their issues, you’re pushing them out rather than inviting them in…We need diverse books because diverse books reflect the world as it is, not the way the world never was and the way the world never will be….Literature and language are life, you know.” With this statement in mind, middle school teachers, Michael Dellvechio and Zoe Camp, looked at their students as individuals first and reflected on their learnings from the LGBTQ+ pilot program that Unity participated in this year as they reworked the summer reading list. “The pilot program was more than a curriculum, it was a new approach to teaching that asks teachers to pause and view their content with a broad lens and make sure everyone’s voice is heard in the content they are delivering,” said Connie Sanchez, Unity’s Executive Director. With that in mind teachers asked themselves if the book options resonate with the students? Were there books that had a wide range of topics and genres? Were the books at varied reading levels? And most importantly, were there characters that they could connect with? Through these guiding questions, the summer reading lists were compiled.
Unity Charter School invites you to read along with them this summer. Unity’s Middle School summer reading lists consists of the following books: Lifting as We Climb, by Evette Dionne, Refugee, by Alan Gratz, Marcelo in the Real World, by Francisco X. Stork, Lily and Dunkin, by Donna Gephart, A Monster Call, by Patrick Ness, Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli, The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods #1), by Rick Riordan, The Thing About Jellyfish, by Ali Benjamin, Booked, by Kwame Alexander, The Running Dream. by Wendelin Van Draanen, The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles), by Amy Spalding, The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, Under the Mesquite, by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Invisible Emmie, by Terri Libenson, Rainbow Revolutionaries, by Sarah Prager.