Summer: the time for Marian students to cut loose from the constant stress of classes, relax, hang out with friends and, of course, read! With the introduction of a new and improved summer reading program in April, students were eager to begin the vacation and start flipping some pages.
From an enticing murder mystery to a heartwarming coming-of-age novel, this year’s summer reading books brought exciting adventures to students during their time off.
The English department spearheaded the program this year, unveiling that each graduating class would be assigned a different book to read over the summer. This change was sparked by the constant struggle of past years to find a book that was suitable and enjoyable for all grades.
The English department, along with Ms. Michelle Delisi, also organized book talk breakfasts for each class during the first full week of school.
These breakfasts, complete with muffins and orange juice, helped to further enhance students’ knowledge and appreciation for the books they read over the summer.
The senior class read “Peace Like a River”, a compelling western novel by Leif Enger. At the senior breakfast, Dr. Lydia Cooper, an Associate Professor of American and Native American Literature at Creighton University, talked to students about what makes up Western Literature, and why “Peace Like a River” is considered as such.
Seniors listened intently as Dr. Cooper presented an array of new and interesting information to them. Senior Brooke Huerter said, “I enjoyed Dr. Cooper’s talk. I didn’t really know that “Peace Like a River” was considered a western, but now I definitely see why it is. She also explained the symbolism in the book and added more meaning for me to think about.”
The junior class read “Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein, over the summer. At their book talk breakfast, students listened to two female Air Force pilots talk about their passion for flying, and the reality of working in a male-dominated field. Students enjoyed relating the reality of being a pilot back to the events that unraveled in the book.
The junior class also utilized this experience as an opportunity to talk with each other about the book. Junior Olivia Tate said, “My favorite part of the book talk breakfast was getting to hear all of my classmates’ different opinions on the book.”
As for the freshmen and sophomores, their book talks got a little more technical–each class had a Skype chat with the authors of the books they read over the summer.
For the freshmen, the book was “The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days” by Michele Weber Hurwitz, and for the sophomores, “Belzhar” by Meg Wolitzer.
Skype proved to be a convenient means of connection for these two classes and the authors of the books they read. Students were eager to ask questions and listen to what these two authors had to say about the ideas and processes that went into writing the books.
All in all, the new summer reading program prevailed as a fresh change to years past. The book talk breakfasts were successful in helping students better understand their summer reads, and of course, fueling them for the day ahead.