Mercersburg Academy Faculty Announce Summer Community Read

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mercersburg Academy’s 2020 community reading selection focuses on the theme of “bridging the divide.” This year’s community read selection is Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (click here to read an excerpt) — which is a required read in addition to reading a designated book depending on their English-course enrollment for 2020–2021.

"We've rebranded summer reading as community reading to make it clear that all members of our community are taking part in the reading and discussions,” said Alexandra Patterson, director of library services and co-leader of the Community Reading Committee. “We will have opportunities to engage with across the year and look forward to seeing how our community digs into the text."

“As with last year, we've focused on a part of the overall yearly theme for the summer. Our response prompts will all center around ‘bridging the divide.’ This felt like a natural way to start the conversation about ‘making a difference’ in a way that is authentic to the struggles the main character, Darius, faces in the book,” Patterson said. 

The required books for students corresponding to their specific English course include Going Bovine by Libba Bray OR We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (entering ninth graders); The Complete Persepolis (#1-#4) by Marjane Satrapi (rising 10th graders); Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (rising 11th graders); Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller; and The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien or How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez (additional book for 12th graders in Advanced Studies).

Students who choose to take part in the challenge will read the community read (Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram), the book for their English class, one of the faculty-sponsored reads listed below, plus a fiction book and a non-fiction book of their choosing. Students who complete the summer reading challenge will take part in seminar discussions at the beginning of the fall term with faculty members and other students. 

“Though most students will read the novel over the summer, we’ve changed the name from ‘Summer Reading’ to ‘Community Reading’ to underscore the idea that shared reading experiences build community that extends well beyond the summer months,” said Michele Poacelli, English faculty, director of the Writing Center, and co-leader of the Community Reading Committee. “We hope, too, that the new branding will serve as an invitation for all members of the Mercersburg community to read and discuss alongside us.”

Students can respond by writing an essay, creating a podcast, making an ‘inspired by’ response, or by completing an extension learning activity. More details and prompts here.

Optional virtual book discussions for students will be held on June 25 at 10 a.m. ET with host Molly Willis ’22 (discussion of pp. 1-90), on July 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET with host Maggie Betkowski ’21 (discussion of pp. 91-220), and on August 20 at 1:30 p.m. ET with host Mel Cort ’23 (discussion of pp. 221-end). For the Google Hangout link, please contact Patterson at

Visit the Community Read Page for more information and to see a video about the Community Read!