Female characters, the power of words, and breakfast food; the English Department is throwing plot twist after plot twist into the Summer Reading Program. During the summer, each incoming grade will
be required to read a book chosen specifically for their class. All students enrolled in an Honors English class will also be required to read a second book.
Although this is different than in past years when the whole school read the same book, teachers are confident this new system will be a big hit. “I think it will be very successful to have each grade read its own book, the reason being we have handpicked from a pile of books what we think is a really perfect read for each specific grade,” English teacher Ms. Adie Magistro ’09 said.
Magistro was able to correspond through e-mail with the author of
the sophomore book, Meg Wolitzer. Wolitzer will Skype with the sophomore class at the beginning of next school year.
The English teachers rallied together after researching and reading their hearts out to decide on books. Ms. Megan Piernicky and Mrs. Amy Bauman attended a panel at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention to listen to the junior author, Elizabeth Wein. “[Wein] said she was interested in writing stories about young women where they are the hero of their own story and trying to rewrite the standard definition for how wom- en fit into literature,” Piernicky said.
The English Department will give each student sticky notes adorned with “#MarianReads” to encourage annotation and involve social media. The Summer Reading Program aims to actively engage students in a community of readers.
Despite these changes, classes will still bond together through book talk breakfasts and interesting speakers. During the first week of school, each grade will have a morning to meet in the Performing Arts Center.
The freshmen and sophomores will Skype with the authors of their books, Michele Weber Hurwitz and Wolitzer. A female Air Force member working at Offutt will come speak with the junior class, whose book is about two women involved in World War II. The seniors will listen to Dr. Lydia Cooper, Assistant Professor of English at Creighton, who is an expert on western literature. A character in the seniors’ book writes her own western story about a cow- boy. Then, the class will reconvene in the cafeteria and discuss what they learned over breakfast.
Although each grade will be reading different books, all the stories contain certain truths that overlap and mingle.
“In some way, all of the books have to do with the power of writing, the power of language, the power of words. They all really speak to that trans- formative nature of literature, how a book can kind of change your life. I think that’s powerful,” Ms. Susie Sisson said.
The English Department hopes to offer students relatable and impactful stories. “… the literature we choose to teach to women are the messages and roles they are going to apply to their lives. Why not find someone who is really, really bold, or fierce, and have students try to emulate that in their lives?” Piernicky said.
Armed with #MarianReads sticky notes, word power, and inspiring, female-driven stories, incoming Marian classes will be a force to reckon with.