Sweet Summertime Reads: School Reading Lists

summertime books for people to read

For a lot of us, it’s been a few years since we’ve received a mandatory summer reading list. If you’re like me, you may even glance at the Summer Reading tables at the bookstores and be surprised by the titles that are there. Some are so modern! In my high school much of our summer reading was filled with classics.

Who knows? Maybe I was lucky because I remember really enjoying a lot of these books and I even still have a few of them sitting in my bookcase to this day. I can’t remember hating any of them so that’s a good sign right? But I’ve been racking my brain to keep straight the books I was assigned in the summer and the books I actually read during class. Is this what getting old is like?

Since this is my blog post, I decided to just throw caution to the wind and talk about a few of my favorite school reads that may fit nicely in your beach bag, carry on luggage, or look good near a frozen margarita. While I’m pretty sure I read most of these during the summer way back when, I’m not entirely sure. Don’t sue me, okay?  – e

The Chosen by Chaim Potok (Goodreads)
> This was a summer reading title that I never thought I would grow attached it. But I really liked it a lot and it’s one of the ones I’ve kept over the years.
Description from Goodreads: It is the now-classic story of two fathers and two sons and the pressures on all of them to pursue the religion they share in the way that is best suited to each. And as the boys grow into young men, they discover in the other a lost spiritual brother, and a link to an unexplored world that neither had ever considered before. In effect, they exchange places, and find the peace that neither will ever retreat from again….


The Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene (Goodreads)
> Another book still in my bookcase from high school or maybe even middle school. (My memory is fuzzy.) I breezed through this one but really liked it.
Description from Goodreads:  When German prisoners of war are brought to her Arkansas town during World War II, twelve-year-old Patty, a Jewish girl, befriends one of them and must deal with the consequences of that friendship.


The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare (Goodreads)
> I couldn’t stop singing the praises of this book. I also remember having it in common with the “boy of my dreams” back in middle school/high school. I was really into witches and this one just stayed with me. I have a copy of it but it’s not the exact one I read back in school.
Description from Goodreads:  Orphaned Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives’ stern Puritan community, she feels like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world, a bird that is now caged and lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit’s friendship with the “witch” is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger. She herself is accused of witchcraft!

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (Goodreads)
> Still have the same exact copy I read during the summer at a Yankee game. Could not put it down. I reread it last year or the year before and it was just as good.
Description from NYT: A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one. It cuts right to the heart of life…If you miss “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” you will deny yourself a rich experience…It is a poignant and deeply understanding story of childhood and family relationships. The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919…Their daughter Francie and their son Neely knew more than their fair share of the privations and sufferings that are the lot of a great city’s poor. Primarily this is Francie’s book. She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francie’s growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

The Human Comedy by William Saroyan (Goodreads)
> I remember really really enjoying this book. It wasn’t my typical kind of read and I can still see myself walking through Disney World with my nose in its pages. I bought a copy a few years ago at a book sale but I cannot find it. It’s hiding from me!
Description from Goodreads: The place is Ithaca, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The time is World War II. The family is the Macauley’s—a mother, sister, and three brothers whose struggles and dreams reflect those of America’s second-generation immigrants…In particular, fourteen-year-old Homer, determined to become one of the fastest telegraph messengers in the West, finds himself caught between reality and illusion as delivering his messages of wartime death, love, and money brings him face-to-face with human emotion at its most naked and raw.

So help me out, friends, did you have required summer reading? What do you remember loving?

In the meantime, Sweet Summertime Reads feature is almost reaching its conclusion but we each (Tara, Ginger, us) still have giveaways going on! Please be sure to check out the details and enter if you haven’t!

10 thoughts on “Sweet Summertime Reads: School Reading Lists

  1. Ginger @ GReads! says:

    Ok wow. We definitely did not have any of those books for our summer reading. To be honest, it’s hard to remember what mine were. I think it was a list of the books we’d be reading the following year, but our teachers wanted us to get a jump start on it. Or maybe different books from the same authors, so we were introduced to that type of writing? You have to forgive me, my memory isn’t the best.. I graduated high school 13 years ago!! haha

  2. Brittany @ The Book Addict's Guide says:

    I still remember a lot of my summer reading books and since I was in honors classes, most of them were classics that I totally wasn’t into reading (Lord of the Flies, Frankenstein, The Scarlet Letter, etc) – My friend’s sister had Twilight on her summer reading list about 4 years ago. Sounds like they’ve changed a lot since I’ve been there!

  3. Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads says:

    OK, I’m going to sound like a TOTAL dork, but here goes. I never had a summer reading list from school — maybe it’s an American thing? But I’d always read books where kids were reading from their summer reading lists, and I always wished that I could have one. Perhaps that’s where my love of lists came from — the list that I never had 😉

  4. Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl says:

    I never had a required summer reading list, and I moved all over the country while I was in school. I’d moved 8 times before high school, and never had any homework over the summer. Haha! I guess I was lucky? I hated required readings when I was younger. I really liked Hatchet by Gary Poulsen, but that was it. Where the Red Fern Grows had me SO upset. Haha. So did The Outsiders and Of Mice and Men. Sadly, I loved reading as a little girl, and then I hated it until my freshman year of college. It was all because of the things my teachers made me read. Haha!

  5. VeganYANerds says:

    I haven’t read any of these and the only one I’ve heard of is A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and you’re not the first person I know to have enjoyed it so I definitely want to read it!

  6. Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books says:

    To be honest, summer reading lists were never something that happened in the Philippines. This of course did not mean that I did not do summer reading of my own, since I did. But I would have probably been a big fan if there was such a thing!

  7. Mary @ My Sisters Bookshelf says:

    I just did a post on probably my favorite school read ever – To Kill A Mockingbird – but it wasn’t summer reading. (Here that is: http://mysistersbookshelf.com/recommend-a-book-that-made-you-emotional/ It explains better than I can here all the reasons why)

    But for summer reading, hands down fave was The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. It was my favorite book for years after that – and I still like books about boxing? It’s a great read.

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