Vacation Reading

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In school districts across the country, officials are turning the typically voluntary summer task of reading books into a requirement. And in the fall, some schools test students on the books they've read and take into account those tests when grading students.

For example, at Randolph (Mass.) Junior/Senior High School, students entering grades 7, 8, 9, and 10 are required to read two books from a list of six. Tests are given in the fall and count for 10 percent of students' English grades. The books listed below and their descriptions are taken from the school's summer reading program.

Grade 7:

Child of the Owl: Casey, a savvy street kid, finds her roots in San Francisco's Chinatown.

Hatchet: Thirteen-year-old Brian attempts to survive alone in the wilderness with only a hatchet.

Plain City: A vibrant portrait of a girl of mixed race in search of her identity.

Singularity: When twin brothers explore an abandoned farmhouse, they discover a passageway to another universe.

The Crossing: Manny Bustos, a Mexican orphan, plans to cross the border through the muddy shallows of the Rio Grande River.

The Giver: Jonas wonders why he was chosen to receive special training from The Giver in a world where there is no war or fear or pain.

Grade 10:

The Andromeda Strain: A five-day American crisis involving an organism from outer space.

Bless the Beasts and Children: Six adolescent "misfits" are determined to free a herd of buffalo and free themselves from dependence on unjust adult authority.

A Raisin in the Sun: An honest, compassionate, humorous prize-winning play about an embattled African-American family.

Summer of My German Soldier: Family problems ensue when a 12-year-old Jewish girl befriends a German prisoner of war in a small Southern town in the 1940s.

Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush: Tree knew that she had to follow Brother Rush back in time to help her retarded older brother and come to terms with her mother's absence.

Where Are the Children?: Nancy Harmon looks in the back yard for her little boy and girl, finds only one red mitten, and knows that the nightmare is beginning again.

Vol. 15, Issue 41

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