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Summer Reading Revealed

Calling all readers: here's what students read for the new UPrep summer reading program.

The scoop on the stories that captivated UPrep students 

What are UPrep students reading? Turns out, a lot. Knowing that the 2020–2021 school year placed so many limitations on students, the library staff opted to encourage student choice for this year’s summer reading program. Students were encouraged to read what they wanted and submitted their reading via a Google Form. Students could choose to read novels, nonfiction, poetry, audio books, newspapers, and beyond. They could choose print, digital, or audio media. The results reveal an enthusiastic and eclectic reading life among students from 6th through 12th grade. 

Middle School students read 487 titles. They chose overwhelmingly—83.5 percent—to read printed materials. Popular titles included Blended by Sharon Draper, Booked by Kwame Alexander, Nothing but the Truth by Avi, and The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson. Young-adult genre stalwarts, like books from the Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Percy Jackson series, retained prominence among young readers. Time-honored tomes like The Secret Garden, The Black Stallion, and To Kill a Mockingbird also made the list. Reading choices also included biographies, histories, and graphic novels.

Upper School students submitted 357 titles. They read more digital material than Middle School students, but still chose to read print materials 77 percent of the time. Upper School summer reading showed much less duplication than Middle School. As students develop their interests and identity, the possibilities for literary exploration broaden. The few books with more than one reader included a mix of dystopian doom, tragic introspection, and romantic escapism: 1984 by George Orwell, They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, and Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Other submissions were delightful and surprising. A couple of students read a biography of Elizabeth Taylor. Individual students read The Federalist Papers and books by Angela Y. Davis, Carl Sagan, Emily Dickinson, Isabel Allende, and Malala Yousafzai. One student read an experimental Canadian poet named Christian Bök who wrote a volume using univocalic constraints, where each chapter employs only one vowel. And y’all, learning about this poet was a blast and a half!

The most common question I get as a librarian is, “Do kids these days still read?” The answer, unequivocally, is yes. They read widely. They read authors of all races and genders. They read poetry, essays, classics, and raffish paperbacks. Sometimes they read voraciously, and sometimes they read sparingly, but they do read. Research into leisure reading indicates that student choice is the single most significant determinant of a student’s reading life. We encourage you to ask your students what they read this summer, especially if they are 6th graders or sophomores because they chose to read the most.

By Librarian Leah Griffin

Check out our UPrep head of school's summer 2021 reading list.

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