Freedom and Wonder

Posted by Shelly Harriman - 26 April, 2013

“The seeds of reading and school success are sown in the home, long before the child ever arrives at school.” Jim Trelease, The Read-Aloud Handbook

GeorgieSummer reading is so important! We want our children to return after the summer ready to read, write and learn. When students see that parents and teachers believe in the value of reading, they are more apt to feel the same way. Students who love to read will see success in school. This begins at home where students are encouraged to read, their parents set an example of reading in front of them, and their parents read aloud to them. Becoming a good reader takes practice. Offer your children quiet times and good places to enjoy reading. Read aloud to them on a regular basis - students whose parents do so perform better on standardized tests, have larger vocabularies, and find more success in all subjects.

We believe students enjoy reading more when allowed to read books of their choice. Having this freedom, especially in the summer, is a great way for kids to explore interests. We would like them to read age-appropriate material, and realize that some families would appreciate suggestions, which are below.

If I had to sum up the Middle School reading lists in two words, they would be freedom and wonder.

Maybe three words: freedom, Wonder and Georgie. This summer, Randolph’s Middle Schoolers and their advisors will read a book about adversity. The summer read will then be a common point of reference next year in advisory. Rising 5th graders will read The Thing About Georgie, by Lisa Graff, while 6th-8th graders will read Wonder, by R.J. Palacio


Listen to the author explain how she got the idea for the book.

We think parents will enjoy these books, too. There are lots of great messages and topics for discussion, including the role that parents play in both of these books. Here are some questions about Wonder that you might want to think about and discuss together.

The narrators/protagonists of both books have a physical hardship, but they also have and deal with challenges that will resonate with all students, such as friendship troubles, sticking up for people, being a good friend, learning empathy and self-advocacy, even starting a new school year or being a new student.

A shared summer read will give us common reference points as we start the new school year, but we also believe that summer reading should give students choices and freedom.

What follows are suggested summer reading books for all four grades. Many of these books will be available for purchase at the Barnes & Noble book fair, in both the Lower and Middle School libraries, Wednesday-Thursday, May 1-2, 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and on Friday, May 3, 7:30-11 a.m.

Students in 6th-8th grade are required to read and to bring Wonder to class on the first day of school. We will use Wonder in our advisory discussions. Expectations for written assignments and reading logs for all four grades can be found on the School website.

Additional 7th and 8th Grade Summer Reading Requirements:

  • Any book from the Suggested Reading List
  • Any book of your choice (including any from Suggested Reading List)
  • Students are asked to log their summer reading
  • 8th graders need to write a critique of a book from the Suggested Reading List.
  • 7th graders are asked to write a reflection on a book of their choice.

Additional 6th Grade Summer Reading Requirement: Two additional books, from suggested list or not.

5th Grade Summer Reading Requirement: The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff and two other books of the student’s choosing, one fiction and one non-fiction or poetry.

Suggested reading

8th Grade

Watership Down by Richard Adams
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Jurassic Park by Michael Crighton
Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
Travel Team by Mike Lupica
Rocket Boys: A Memoir by Homer Hickam
Mort by Terry Pratchett
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Am the Cheese by Robert Cormier
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
The Maze Runner (series) by James Dashner
Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper
Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

7th Grade

Countdown by Deborah Wiles
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
Down the Rabbit Hole (trilogy) by Peter Abrahams
Downriver by Will Hobbs
Ender’s Game (Series) by Orson Scott Card
Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston
Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Last Shot by John Feinstein
Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin
Nothing but the Truth by Avi
Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Peak by Roland Smith
Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan
Tangerine by Edward Bloor
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
The Dark is Rising (Series) by Susan Cooper
The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery by Steve Sheinkin
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
The Revealers by Doug Wilhelm
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
The Wizard of Earthsea (trilogy) by Ursula LeGuin
Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements
Under the Persimmon Tree by Suzanne Fisher Staples

6th Grade

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop
Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
Flush by Carl Hiassen
Football Genius by Tim Green
Isabel of the Whales by Hester Velmans
Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass
Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by John Feinstein
On the Court with Venus and Serena Williams by Matt Christopher
Pharaoh’s Boat by David Weitzman
Saavy by Ingrid Law
Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret
The Big Field by Mike Lupica
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
The Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
The Mysterious Benedict Society (Series) by Trenton Lee Stewart
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
The Red Pyramid (Series) by Rick Riordan
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
The Unwanted by Lisa McMann
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

5th Grade

Guidelines for Non-Fiction Reading:

The non-fiction book selection for summer reading may include: History, Nature, Geography, Technology, Current Events, Biography, or Poems.

Choose a non-fiction book:

  • Which you are interested in – please don’t choose something to impress parents or teachers!
  • Connected to an activity you enjoy or have experienced.
  • Which has good pictures, tables, graphics, and captions.
  • Which seems readable – not too simple, nor too complicated.

Reading a non-fiction book is a different process, so please remember…

  • It is okay to just read some sections of the book.
  • It is okay to read the chapters or sections out of order.
  • It is okay to read the Table of Contents in the front to decide which sections you want to review/read.
  • It is okay to check the glossary in the back of the book (or a dictionary) if you don’t know the meaning of a word.

Popular Series/Fiction

Balliett, Chasing Vermeer, The Wright The Calder Game
Banks, The Indian in the Cupboard
Barry, Peter and the Starcatchers
Buckley, Sisters Grimm
Colfer, Artemis Fowl
Funke, Inkheart
Henry, Misty of Chincoteague
Horowitz, Stormbreaker (Alex Ryder series)
Hunter, Warriors, Seekers
Jacques, Red Wall
Kessler, Philippa Fisher’s Fairy Godsister
Lewis, Chronicles of Narnia
Lindgren, Pippi Longstocking
Lofting, Dr. Doolittle
Martin, Main Street Series, The Doll People
Naylor, Shiloh
Riordan, Lightning Thief
Rowling, Harry Potter
Snicket, Series of Unfortunate Events
Stewart, The Mysterious Benedict Society
Van Draanen, Shredderman series
Various Authors, 39 Clues Series, Dear America, My Name is America, Girls of Many Lands


Anderson, Fever, 1793
Appelt, The Underneath
Armstrong, Sounder
Avi, Crispin
Birdsall, The Penderwicks
Brink, Caddie Woodlawn
Burnett, The Little Princess, The Secret Garden
Choldenko, Al Capone Does My Shirts, Al Capone Shines My Shoes
Cleary, Dear Mr. Henshaw, Strider
Clements, Lost andNew Found, Report Card, Janitor’s Boy
Codell, Sahara Special
Creech, Absolutely Normal Chaos, Ruby Holler
DiCamillo, Because of Winn-Dixie, The Magician’s Elephant
Eager, Half Magic
Farley, Black Stallion
Funke, Dragon Rider, Thief Lord
Giff, Nory Ryan’s Song
Gutman, Satch and Me, Million Dollar Shot
Haddix, Just Ella
Hiaason, Scat, Hoot
Hoeye, Time Stops for No Mouse
Ibbotson, Island of the Aunts
Levine, Ella Enchanted
Lowry The Birthday Ball, Mass, 11 Birthdays, Finally 12, Every Soul a Star
O’Brien, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Paulsen, Hatchet
Riordan, The Red Pyramid
Sachar, Holes
Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sperry, Call it Courage

Learn more about the Middle School advisory system:
See what they're reading in the Upper School.

Topics: 5th grade, 6th grade, 7th grade, 8th grade, Academics, advisory, English, family, friends, library, Middle School, summer reading, teachers

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