2019 Summer Reading

Required Summer Reading for all Students 
(two books)

Each student is required to read one all-school selection (book one) and the summer reading book required for next year’s English class (book two).


Read one of these three books
(click on book cover to read more)



Students will have a choice of four exciting ways to respond to the 2019 Summer Reading. Click on the icons below to learn more about each option. Students will complete and submit one response by the end of the second week of fall term classes. Summer work is welcome but not required. A team of faculty members will review and evaluate each response.

Students may create a 10-12 minute podcast with the theme, “Women Telling Their Stories.”  It should include:

  • A 3-5 minute introduction that specifically references the book read and discusses the theme of “Women Telling Their Stories” as it relates to the book.

  • The student’s telling of a woman’s story.  Students should use their own voice and, if possible, the voice of the woman interviewed.  The podcast should answer these essential questions: Why this story? Why is it important to tell?  

  • Sample Podcast (link is external)

  • Check out this NPR guide to Podcasting (link is external), if you’d like a little more help getting started.

  • Apps that might help: Audacity, Voice Recorder on the iPhone/iPad, GarageBand on the Macbook/iPad

In the spirit of Mercersburg Academy’s “Inspired By” contests sponsored by the Writing Center, students may create a response that is inspired by the book.  A response could be a choreographed dance, an original short story or chatbook of poems, a piece of digital art, or any other creative work. When students submit the “Inspired By” response, it should include:

  • A one-paragraph “Artist’s Statement” that explains the project and process and comments on its connection to the book. 

The theme of social justice is at the heart of the 2019 Summer Reading selections.  Students may use this as an opportunity to effect social change where they think it’s needed in the world at large or within the Mercersburg Academy community.  Students may choose one of the following six ways to create an “Activist Response”: 

Reach out to an Elected Official and ask for the desired change

Reaching out to Congress (link is external)
Corresponding with U.S. Senators (link is external)
Finding Your Representative (link is external)

Create a documentary: (link is external)

Students will create a  documentary that engages with the summer reading will explore the issues in the books in a visual way and will include various interviews and/or sound clips. Documentaries should be between 10-15 minutes long and should show a clear relationship between the text and the subject of the documentary.
Example (link is external) 

Create a Public Service Announcement:

Students will create a  public service announcement video will be 1-2 minutes long and will include salient information about the topic of the summer reading. The PSA will include a “call to action.” When students submit their PSA, it should include a three paragraph “Director’s Statement” that addresses their process in making the PSA and how it relates to the summer reading.
Example (link is external)

Propose an Activist-themed “Brown Bag Lunch”

The “Brown Bag Lunch” is Mercersburg Academy’s Student Speaker Series.  Students deliver presentations to the school community on topics of choice during a scheduled lunch/Help period. Student will work with Trini Hoffman to complete a proposal for an activist-themed “Brown Bag Lunch” and to prepare a slide-show presentation.

Complete a Mercersburg Academy Student Government Form and Petition to Propose a Policy Change (link is external)

Students proposing a policy change should fill out this form, attach a list of signatures in support of the policy change (at least 25 student signatures and 1 faculty signature), attach a well written argument explaining the purpose of the policy change and how it will benefit the school community, and submit the form, list of signatures, and argument to the President of the Student Council.  Title the argument: “Rationale for Change.” Students proposing the change must be willing to attend meetings regarding the proposed change.

Other Activist Response


Read one of these three books
(click on book cover to read more)

As in former years, students will have an opportunity to write an in-class essay in response to a prompt issued a few days ahead of the writing period.

Prompt's include: 

Shoot Like A Girl

Mary Jennings Hegar shares her remarkable story in Shoot Like A Girl. She faced obstacles at every stage of her dream to fly and defend the country she loves, but she persisted with a warrior’s spirit. What in particular struck you about MJ’s story? What systems of power were at play and what character traits allowed her to navigate them? In your thoughtful response, refer specifically to the text and quote at least two passages. Minimum word count: 500 

Far From The Tree

By the end of Robin Benway’s novel, Far From The Tree, the three main characters have become more deeply rooted to their family tree and have found multiple places of belonging.  Choose one character from the novel and describe her or his places of belonging. Then, compare and contrast this character’s belonging to the places you belong. In your thoughtful response, refer specifically to the text and quote at least two passages. Minimum word count: 500 

The Woman’s Hour

Carrie Catt, “the Chief” of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, made this prediction about ratification in Tennessee: “‘No matter how well the women may work, or how effective their results may be, ratification in Tennessee will go through the work and action of men,’ she’d warned, ‘and the great motive that will finally put it through will be political and nothing else.’ Not justice, not fairness. Politics — Tennessee politics, presidential politics — might put ratification through, or it would kill it” (Weiss 305).

Catt suggests here that politics exist apart from ideals and that politics are a harder-driving force. Do you agree or disagree? Give examples from Weiss’s book as well as examples from today’s political landscape. Then answer the question, whose “hour” is it now? Explain your answer. In your thoughtful response, refer specifically to the text and quote at least two passages. Minimum word count: 500


Read the English book for your grade

The Summer Reading Challenge (optional: five books)

  1. One of the three required reads (see above)

  2. The English book for your grade (see above)

  3. Faculty sponsored read (see below)

  4. One fiction book of your choice

  5. One nonfiction book of your choice

Faculty-sponsored books

When you return to school, you will sign an honor pledge stating that you read the five designated books. You will also participate in a seminar led by the faculty member who sponsored your chosen book.

Any student who completes the challenge will receive an “I Took the Summer Reading Challenge” shirt that entitles the wearer to a jeans day on a designated date during the fall term. In addition, we will sponsor a Summer Reading Challenge event based on how many students take the Challenge. If 25 students take the Challenge we will sponsor an ice cream party. If 50 students take the Challenge, we will sponsor a trip to the movies. And, if 100 students take the Challenge, we will sponsor a trip to Hersheypark.

If you have questions about Summer Reading, email Alexandra Patterson (link sends e-mail), director of library services. 

Will you take the Summer Reading Challenge?