2021–2022 Community Read Selections Announced

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

For 2021-2022, Mercersburg Academy’s community reading centers around the theme of “health and wellness.” The theme was adopted by the Program Collaboration Group headed by Assistant Head of School for Student Life and Culture Chris Howes and Associate Head of School for School Life Dr. Julia Stojak Maurer ’90, P ’18, ’20, ’22, ’23. This year’s community read selections are Body Talk (edited by Kelly Jensen) and Between the World and Me (by Ta-Nehisi Coates).

“We changed the name last year to ‘community reading’ from ‘summer reading’ as we shifted to a committee model for choosing the books,” said Alexandra Patterson, director of library services and co-leader of the Community Reading Committee. “As a committee, we read nearly 40 books before narrowing it down to a short list of two titles.”

Michele Poacelli P ’24, the director of the Writing Center, co-leader of the Community Reading Committee, and a member of the English faculty, elaborated on the committee's selection process.

“The theme of ‘health and wellness’ guided our entire search for this year's books,” Poacelli said. “We interpreted the theme deeply and widely, considering not only the health of the physical body but also the health of society.  It was a great theme to work with, and we're excited for conversations in the community that explore the topic in a dimensional way.”

Students can choose to take the Summer Reading Challenge. To participate, they will read both community reads, the book assigned for their English class, and one of the faculty-sponsored reads listed below, plus a book of their choosing. Students who complete the challenge will take part in seminar discussions at the beginning of the fall term with faculty members and other students. 

The selection of faculty-sponsored books is:

Denise Dalton - Life in Motion by Misty Copeland
Nikki Walker P ’19, ’23 - The Black Friend by Frederick Joseph
Ali Hawk P ’24 - Running with Sherman by Christopher McDougall
Jim Malone P ’01, ’03 - I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Laura Nickerson P ’22, ’24 - Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
Michele Poacelli - Apple: Skin to the Core by Eric Gansworth
Jay Bozzi - The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianof

There will be virtual discussions throughout the summer to help students connect with others about the reading.

“This is a great way to meet and interact with people before the start of the school year,” Poacelli said. “These conversations are also helpful for pacing one's reading and checking one's understanding.  Read a portion and discuss, and then read some more and discuss again.”

“Last summer, we had a lot of incoming students take part,” Patterson added. “Additionally, as always, the whole school will discuss the books upon our return to campus in the fall!”

As in previous years, students will respond to the community reads by choosing from various prompts. They can learn more about a subject mentioned in the book, create a piece of art, or go in a completely different direction, as long as they demonstrate their inspiration and curiosity.

“We want students to tap into creativity to express their own interpretations and make their own meaning,” Poacelli said. “The responses options are designed as an invitation into the text, knowing that there's more than just one way in.”

For more information about the 2021-2022 Community Read (including a complete list of English class reads) and to learn more about the responses, visit the Community Read website