HWRHS Summer Reading…a new twist!

At the end of last school year, Curriculum Leader Robert Hickey presented a new concept of summer reading to the curriculum leaders.  After a few questions, the group overwhelmingly supported the project and Mr. Hickey had a new load of work to do!

In June, Mr. Hickey and Mrs. Wilson started the project in motion by soliciting adults throughout the school system to read a book and agree to run a book group with students at the start of school.  By they time we were ready to have the students sign up, there were 57 different books that the students could choose!

Students now had the job of choosing one book to read during the summer with the understanding that they would participate in a non-graded book discussion group.  The task was tough for them, but 550 sign ups were complete by the end of the school year.

On September 1st, we scheduled the book groups to meet for 90 minutes at the end of the day.  The English department graciously put together some basic guidelines and ideas to help drive the discussions.  Initially, the adults were concerned that 90 minutes would be too long.  It didn’t take long to realize that 90 minutes wasn’t enough time.

My group of 15 students read “Defending Jacob”, by William Landay.  Everyone in the grouped like the book so the discussion was easy to keep going.  We talked about the student’s feelings and thoughts related to the twists and turns of the book and the well-developed characters.  The discussion was so rich that we almost didn’t have time to finish the one assignment we were all asked to do.  Each group was asked to think about the theme or themes of the book they chose and to draw or write a visual of their result.  All 53 themes were posted on the walls of the cafeteria and the front lobby for others to view and ponder.


All in all, the idea was a great success.  Fifty-seven adults reading along with 570 students, some who read more than one book, for the pleasure of reading and the idea of truly reading across the curriculum!

Here’s a list of books we read:

Orbiting Jupiter
The Goblin Emperor
A Short History of Nearly Everything
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
The Martian
Fever Pitch
Slaughterhouse Five
A Walk in the Woods
A Thousand Splendid Suns
The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea
Code Name Verity
Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
One Shot at Forever: A Small Town, an Unlikely Coach, and a Magical Baseball Season
Serial Podcast
The Boys of Winter: The Untold Story of a Coach, a Dream, and the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team
Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage
It’s Kind of a Funny Story
The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Ready Player One
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind
Outliers: The Story of Success
Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream
11 Seconds: A Story of Tragedy, Courage, and Triumph
The Invention of Wings
Enrique’s Journey
The Book Thief
Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer
Ready Player One
Defending Jacob: A Novel
Snow Crash
The Glass Castle: A Memoir
Steal Like an Artist
Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different
The Empty Space
A Man Called Ove
The River Why
Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be
Your Inner Fish
Esperanza Rising
Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in WWII
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Station Eleven
Ines of My Soul
The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency
The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens
Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, From Missiles to the Moon to Mars
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism