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Grade 7 & 8 Summer Reading List

This list was compiled by Linda Williams for the Connecticut State Department of Education. Each title listed below was selected, between 2001 and 2011, as an exemplary book by the American Library Association (ALA) and at least one professional education association. Education associations include: the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the National Science Teachers Assocation (NSTA). List can be downloaded as a .pdf here: Grade 7 to Grade 8.

FICTION

Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos
Fourteen-year-old Nadira, her sister, and their parents leave Bangladesh for New York City, but the expiration of their visas and the events of September 11, 2001, bring frustration, sorrow, and terror for the whole family.
ALA, NCSS

The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales
Sofia grows up in the close-knit community of the barrio in McAllen, Texas, then finds that her experiences as a scholarship student at an Episcopal boarding school in Austin only strengthen her ties to family and her “comadres.”
ALA, NCSS, NCTE

Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis
Teens Octavia and Tali learn about strength, independence, and courage when they are forced to take a car trip with their grandmother, who tells about growing up Black in 1940s Alabama and serving in Europe during World War II as a member of the Women’s Army Corps.
ALA, NCTE

Cuba 15 by Nancy Osa
Violet Paz, a Chicago high school student, reluctantly prepares for her upcoming “quince,” a Spanish nickname for the celebration of an Hispanic girl’s fifteenth birthday.
ALA, NCSS

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
In the not-too-distant future, when biotechnological advances have made synthetic bodies and brains possible but illegal, a seventeen-year-old girl, recovering from a serious accident and suffering from memory lapses, learns a startling secret about her existence.
ALA, NCSS

Nation by Terry Pratchett
After a devastating tsunami destroys all that they have ever known, Mau, an island boy, and Daphne, an aristocratic English girl, together with a small band of refugees, set about rebuilding their community and all the things that are important in their lives.
ALA, NCSS

Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby

ALA, IRA

The Great Death by John Smelcer
When thirteen-year-old Joey Willis, deaf since the age of six, meets Dr. Charles Mansell and his chimpanzee Sukari, who use sign language, her world blooms with possibilities but that of the chimp begins to narrow.
ALA, NCSS

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
During World War II, a light-skinned African American girl “passes” for white in order to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
ALA, NCSS

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Marcelo Sandoval, a seventeen-year-old boy on the high-functioning end of the autistic spectrum, faces new challenges, including romance and injustice, when he goes to work for his father in the mailroom of a corporate law firm.
ALA, NCSS

GRAPHIC NOVEL

To Dance by Siena Cherson Siegel
The author describes how she first decided she wanted to be a ballerina at the age of six, and how that dream carried her from her home in Puerto Rico to dance class in Boston to performing with the New York City Ballet. (BWI)
ALA, NCTE

FOLKLORE

Horse Hooves and Chicken Feet: Mexican Folktales selected by Neil Phillip
A collection of folktales from Mexican and Mexican American storytellers. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS

POETRY

The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle
Juan Francisco Manzano was born in 1797 into the household of wealthy slaveowners in Cuba. He spent his early years at the side of his owner’s wife, entertaining her friends. His poetry was his outlet, reflecting the beauty and cruelty of his world. Written in verse.
ALA, IRA, NCTE

A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson
This illustrated poetry collection eulogizes Emmett Till, an African American man who was killed in a brutal, racially motivated lynching in 1955. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS, NCTE

NONFICTION

Tasting the Sky: A Palestinian Childhood by Ibtisam Barakat
A memoir in which the author describes her childhood as a Palestinian refugee, discussing her family’s experiences during and after the Six-Day War, and the freedom she felt at learning to read and write. (TW)
ALA, IRA, NCSS

They Called Themselves the K.K.K. by Susan Bartoletti
Documents the history and origin of the Ku Klux Klan from its beginning in Pulaski, Tennessee, and provides personal accounts, congressional documents, diaries, and more. (BWI)
ALA, NCTE

Freedom Riders by Ann Bausum
Recounts the freedom ride of John Lewis and Jim Zwerg into the South in 1961 as part of the Civil Rights Movement. (BWI)
ALA, NCTE

Bodies from the Ash by James M. Deem
Describes the archaeological excavations that began on the ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum which had been buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS, NCTE, NSTA

Phineas Gage by John Fleischman
The true story of Phineas Gage, whose brain had been pierced by an iron rod in 1848, and who survived and became a case study in how the brain functions. (BWI)

ALA, NCTE, NSTA

What the World Eats by Peter Menzel
A photographic collection exploring what the world eats featuring portraits of twenty-five families from twenty-one countries surrounded by a week’s worth of food. (Publisher)
ALA, IRA

Every Bone Tells a Story by Jill Rubalcaba
Discusses the unearthing of four hominins–Turkana Boy, Lapedo Child, Kennewick Man, and Iceman–and the ways that new technology has helped archaeological specialists to refine their theories and change their view of the past. (BWI)
ALA, NSTA

Team Moon by Catherine Thimmesh
Culled from direct quotes from the people behind the scenes, NASA transcripts, national archives and NASA photos, the whole story of Apollo 11 and the first moon landing emerges.
ALA, NCTE, NSTA

Written in Bone by Sally M. Walker
Reports on the work of forensic scientists who are excavating grave sites in James Fort, in Jamestown, Virginia, to understand who lived in the Chesapeake Bay area in the 1600s and 1700s; and uncovers the lives of a teenage boy, a ship’s captain, a colonial officer, an African slave girl, and others. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS, NCTE, NSTA

BIOGRAPHY

Jack by Ilene Cooper
A description of the childhood and youth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the thirty-fifth president of the United States.
ALA, NCSS

The Trouble Begins at 8 by Sid Fleischman
A narrative account of the childhood and youth of nineteenth-century writer Mark Twain. Includes period engravings, newspaper cartoons, and black-and-white photographs. (BWI)
ALA, NCTE

The Amazing Life of Benjamin Franklin by James Cross Giblin
A biography of the eighteenth-century printer, inventor, and statesman who played an influential role in the early history of the United States.
ALA, NCTE

Claudette Colvin by Phillip Hoose
Presents an account of fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin, an African-American girl who refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, nine months before Rosa Parks, and covers her role in a crucial civil rights case. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS, NCTE

Leonardo da Vinci by Kathleen Krull
A biography of Leonardo da Vinci focusing on his scientific rather than his artistic work. (BWI)
ALA, NSTA

John Lennon by Elizabeth Partridge
Presents a biography of musician John Lennon, chronicling his life and times from his troubled childhood in Liverpool, England, through his career writing, recording, and performing as a member of the Beatles. Includes 140 black-and-white photographs. (BWI)
ALA, NCSS

Twelve Rounds to Glory by Charles R. Smith, Jr.
A brief biography in verse of boxer Muhammad Ali.
ALA, NCSS

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