Summer Reading for Students- 2017

St. Louis Cathedral and General Andrew Jackson“Once you know how to read, then it is up to you to read and read well.  A learned man, a learned lady, is someone who not only knows how to read but who has read well.  This means that you will have to spend time by yourself with books, not just with machines of various sophistications lost in horizontal relationships of the now.” —James Schall, S.J. How are we to live in this broken world, Thursday, 25 May 2017. (1)

“Those of us who have been true readers all our life seldom fully realize the enormous extension of our being which we owe to authors…The man who is contented to be only himself, and therefore less a self, is in prison. My own eyes are not enough for me, I will see through those of others. Reality, even seen through the eyes of many, is not enough. I will see what others have invented. Even the eyes of all humanity are not enough. I regret that the brutes cannot write books. Very gladly would I learn what face things present to a mouse or a bee; more gladly still would I perceive the olfactory world charged with all the information and emotion it carries for a dog.” —C.S. Lewis, An Experiment in Criticism. (2)

As we prepare to open the doors of Ozark Catholic Academy in August 2018, I am pondering what could students and parents read over the summer that will begin laying the groundwork for this new adventure. This post focuses on what I would suggest students dive into if they are entering grades 7, 8, and 9 in August 2017.

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Seeing through the eyes of others or walking in their shoes, are phrases or notions that have been told to us by our parents, mostly our moms. In recent years, we’ve heard this from Everlast through the lyrics of “What It’s Like ” and more recently from Pope Francis when Roman Catholics meet sinners where they are. Opening and expanding our imagination through reading is a necessary step for us to be able to see reality for what it really is–reality.  C.S. Lewis understands that readers desire to see through the eyes of humanity, but even that is not enough for them.  For me, to walk in one’s footsteps, that is to understand or know someone, is to ask about what book he or she is reading and then be able to converse over it.

As your eyes peruse the list of books below, know that it is not meant to be “a list” but a spring board to inspire summer reading. The lists below are by no means dogmatic but do have a theme.  In Fr. James Schall, S.J.’s opening quotation a distinction is made between reading and reading well.  “Reading well” is an inference for possibly the following ideas.

First knowing how to read well, is about getting the most out of the fiction or non-fiction book you are engaged in.  An example of this, even with a novel for enjoyment, is to underline or highlight key lines that make you laugh, cry or leave you with wonder.  Mortimer Adler’s How to Read a Book, is the key text that can give you the tools to further enjoy what you read.

Second in Schall’s understanding of “reading well,” can be taken as reading books that are understood to be good.  Such a notion does not mean there is one list that you should read by the time you leave high school, or even pass from this life to the next.  But rather there are books that truly expand our sight or our experience by allowing us to see through the eyes of others or to walk in their shoes. The list below reflects just that. There are books worth reading that have been recently published, but perhaps the true enjoyment of such books can come about when one has read well those worthy of reading that have come before.

Of course, these books are only suggestions but I hope they will engage the imagination of students whether, it is poetry, fiction, or non-fiction. And by all means the lists below can be read and appreciated by adult readers.  Parents reading books along with their middle school or high school child is a step that we all can take and enjoy a hearty conversation over dinner, whether that dinner is around a camp fire, the beach or while visiting grandparents this summer. Just a reminder that this reading does not supersede any reading you have to do for the school you are currently attending.

Also, I know local libraries offer programs for children to read during the summer and even bookstores, like Barnes and Noble offer reading challenges to young readers.  Visit your local library or even better, a used bookstore and ask if they have such a program or that they might even begin one to bring in young readers.

Enjoy the summer and whatever adventure you have planned or those unplanned; either way, carry a book with you and you may possibly have two simultaneous adventures!

Entering Seventh Grade

  • Conan Doyle, Arthur. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
  • O’Dell, Scott. Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • Serraillier, Ian. The Silver Sword
  • Armstrong, William. Sounder
  • White, E.B.. Stuart Little
  • Currie, Eve. Madame Currie: A Biography
  • Alcott, Louisa May. Eight Cousins
  • Burnett, Frances Hodgeson. The Secret Garden
  • Speare, Elizabeth. The Bronze Bow
  • Fitzgerald, John. The Great Brain series
  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. Treasure Island
  • Portis, Charles. True Grit

Entering Eight Grade

  • Stevenson, Robert Louis. Kidnapped
  • Verne, Jules. Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Wyss, J.D.. Swiss Family Robinson
  • Herriot, James. All Creatures Great and Small
  • Keller, Helen. The Story of My Life
  • L’Engle, Madeleine. The Austin Family Chronicles
  • Twain, Mark. The Prince and the Pauper
  • White, T.H. The Once and Future King
  • Morris, Willie. Good Old Boy
  • Tarkington, Booth. Penrod
  • McCullough, David. 1776
  • Orwell, George. Animal Farm
  • Hillenbrand, Laura. Unbroken (Young Adult Adaptation)

Entering Ninth Grade

  • Sienkiewicz, Henryk. Quo Vadis
  • Douglas, Lloyd C. The Robe
  • de Wohl, Louis. The Last Crusader: A Novel about Don Juan of Austria
  • Rawicz, Slawomir. The Long Walk
  • Austen, Jane. Emma
  • Austen, Jane. Sense and Sensibility
  • Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451
  • Cather, Willa. Death Comes for the Archbishop
  • Shaara, Michael. The Killer Angels
  • Sutcliff, Rosemary. Silver Branch
  • Buck, Pearl. The Good Earth
  • Lewis, C.S.. Space Trilogy Series: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra. That Hideous Strength

 

  1. http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/05/28/how-are-we-to-live-in-this-broken-world/ found on June 7, 2017.
  2. https://www.brainpickings.org/2014/11/26/c-s-lewis-literature-reading-books/ found on June 8, 2017.

 

Catholic Schools Week, the Afterword

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NWA-OCA 2.1 
February 3, 2017- Memorial of St. Blasé

For me, the week has been filled with a number of different activities celebrating Catholic Schools Week, both as a parent and in founding Ozark Catholic Academy.

I began the week releasing a short video celebrating Catholic Schools Week.  I would like to thank Trolly Line Bookstore for allowing us to film the video inside their store.  As we filmed in the a nook which was categorized as poetry and classics,  I did leave with three books in hand: One Man’s Meat by E.B. White, a hardcover novel by Dr. Samuel Johnson– Detector, and a hardcover of Henry Sienkiewicz’s Quo Vadis.

St. Vincent de Paul, in Rogers, and St. Joseph, in Fayetteville, both had school masses where students in uniform came together and participated in mass in numerous ways. At St. Vincent de Paul, board members had a table with our brochures. As parishioners left mass, they were handed the bookmarks we created for them this week. Many small conversations took place and the bookmarks were well received.

At St. Joseph’s in Fayetteville, they had the school mass at 9:00am followed by an Open House for the school.  I manned a table after the 9:00am and 11:30am mass in the narthex and handed out bookmarks as well.  Fr. Jason Tyler announced at the end of each mass that I was present in the back to answer questions concerning the high school. Parishioners were warm in their comments and thoughts and openly received bookmarks. Probably the most voiced comment from people was that they were glad to hear the high school was happening and have always been interested in having one. I stayed for the beginning of the 1:30pm Mass in Spanish and greeted parishioners as they were entering church.

One conversation with a mother focused on the importance of teachers and how her children’s teachers had really made a difference in their lives. But, she said that something was missing even then—it was not within a Catholic context. Meaning that she thought as good and personal as those teachers were, if their teacher-student relationship had happened within a Catholic school, the possibility of their relationship could have been even more rooted in Christ. She expressed her happiness about a Catholic high school coming, and she hoped her youngest daughter would be able to attend.

In the early afternoon, we published our latest video celebrating Catholic Schools Week.  I hope that if you have not had a chance to view it, you will.

Later this afternoon, the St. Joseph’s and St. Vincent ’s 5th and 6th grade basketball teams are competing against each other. OCA will host a few competitions during halftime. The winners will receive the very first Ozark Catholic Academy t-shirts. We hope to post pictures and short videos on our FB and web pages later this weekend.

Here is a link to my talk on St. Thomas More presented at St. Stephen’s on January 23, 2017.

In celebration of Catholic Schools Week, here is a link to all the images that were created to visually present, “Why a Catholic Education?”

My sincere thanks to Mrs. Katie Harris who has volunteered to help with the videos, audios, and images created for our social media.