Daily Archives: August 16, 2011

Summer reading lists – and why they’re important

The end of summer is quickly approaching and where would we be if we didn’t have a great summer read to talk about in the fall?

Summer reading is a wonderful way to take time for you, on vacation or while at home, while still learning and staying brushed up on educational – and fun – reading.

Even more importantly, summer reading lists are a great way for students to keep the momentum going on their yearlong reading habits. Unfortunately, reading levels are nowhere near where they should be in the U.S. – a recent report from ACT found that only about half of high school graduates (who took the ACT exam) were at the College Readiness Benchmark for reading.

The ACT report also suggests that many high school teachers are not incorporating higher-level reading materials – “the types of texts that students will encounter in college and in the workforce” – into their classes.

These dangerous statistics are one of the many reasons icouldbe.org was born. Our e-mentoring programs have been shown to help students as they transition from junior high to high school and out into the adult world, aiming to address issues like high dropout rates and poor guidance counselor-to-student ratios in at-risk communities. Mentoring a student online can give them needed support for confidence and success, college and career advice, and the ability to set goals for their future.

So here at icouldbe.org we decided to compile a list of summer must-reads. Some of these are great reads for adults, and some for middle and high school students – they might even be on school’s required reading lists, along with some of the classics. For the mentors out there, maybe one of these books would be a great suggestion for your mentee’s reading list.

Take a look! Have you, or a student you know, read any great books this summer?

The Help

“The Help, written by Kathryn Stockett, is about a young girl who returns home after graduating from Ole Miss (a college/university in Mississippi) set in 1962. The young woman, Skeeter, would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women – mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends – view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.”

This best seller listed with the Top Summer Reads at Goodreads.com is also in the process of being released as a major motion picture.

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West

In Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West, Dorothy Wickenden tells the “all-true adventures” of two Eastern debutantes setting out for Colorado in 1916 – one of which happens to be her grandmother.

Not only is Wickenden the author and granddaughter of a Society Girl, she’s the Executive Editor of The New Yorker and her book lands on Oprah’s 16 Books to Lookout for in August 2011.

Recommended Reading Lists

About.com has a list of reads for students entering 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. Some books you might mention to your mentee(s) are:


“Flight is about a teenager in a new foster home who wrestles with the anger and injustice of his own situation and contemplates violence before taking a jolting time travel journey to examine the conquest of Native Americans and the consequences of hatred from various viewpoints.”

The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century

“The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman is a journalists’ take on whether or not the globe is “flattening” with technology binding more and more countries together.”

New York Times Bestseller List

What list of books to read wouldn’t be complete without including the New York Times Bestseller list?

  • Reckless Endangerment We checked out the non-fiction section for print and e-books and found Reckless Endangerment, written by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner that accounts the Wall Street implosion and highlights individuals in crucial roles of responsibility – very relevant to the times right now, and could be a great read for you – or your mentee.

GOOD Books

GOOD Books is a weekly round-up of what we’re reading and what we wish we were reading.”

  • Even though they’re offering up a sneak peak at fall’s must-reads, we wanted to include this GOOD Books book in our list for the end of summer. If you’ve read Orwell’s 1984, this book is the opposite of it. In 1Q84 (October), Haruki Murakami explores the possibility of what-if with an alternative past featuring alternate realities, newfound moons, and German Shepherds with a fondness for spinach – if you’re looking for quirky, this is your book.