For high school students, summer reading selections have always had themes or content intended to connect them with societal issues in the changing and complex world they are growing up in, as well as with serious personal and cultural issues explored in fiction and memoir alike. We try to appeal to all students, so that everybody will have something to read that they enjoy, have an interest in, want to read to explore something new, or to challenge themselves. To that end, we chose titles on topics such as growing up, coming of age, gender, science, nature, history, young adult experiences, fantasy/science fiction, sports, and others. Some titles provide a way into the academic work for the coming school year, and others allow students to follow up on a topic introduced across disciplines during the year that just ended. We’ve always known that summer reading prevents “summer slide,” and we want our students to be ready for the literacy challenges that exist both in their classes and out in the world.
But this is a very different season. We come to Summer 2020 having been apart from our students for three months due to the coronavirus pandemic; we are also working our way as a country through a period of great racial and social unrest. Either one of these alone would have given us pause as we approach the summer break. Experiencing them both at the same time has caused many of us to stop and reflect on how we are living our lives and what we can do for our loved ones and each other to help us negotiate these times.
We strongly suggest, then, that as students and parents, you read through this list together to select titles that suit your interests, and suggest that you might even enjoy reading a book together as a family. We have always encouraged students to discuss the stories and content with parents or guardians before reading, but this year it seems more important than ever to share that experience of reading together.
Given the uncertainty of what the fall will look like for schools, there is no official summer reading “requirement” this year. But we do expect that our students will read something to make sense of what’s on their minds. So we’ve taken last year’s lists, removed the grade leveling, which can be limiting and artificial at best, removed some titles, and added some new ones. The Humanities Faculty and Mrs. Sue McHugh, our HHS librarian, have been involved, as always, in compiling this list. We’ve provided a brief description of each book and recommend goodreads.com and amazon.com for more detailed information. Please also watch for the reopening of the John Curtis Free Library in Hanover, part of the Old Colony Library Network of the South Shore, to assist you in finding titles. You can also register for a Boston Public Library eCard, free to all Massachusetts residents, which grants you access to thousands of downloadable eBooks and Audiobooks. (Instructions)
We are available to answer any questions you might have. Please also know that we are, as always, reading right alongside you this summer, while we continue the work of preparing for what school will look like in the fall.
We wish you happy, relaxing, inspiring, and thought-provoking reading.
Dr. Sheila Walsh