SUMMER READING ASSIGNMENT: It’s Not Too Late!

The Literacy Cookbook COVERIf you want your students to engage in summer reading but haven’t finalized the assignment yet, it’s not too late to give them something meaningful and manageable.

Whether you’re assigning particular books or giving students a range of choices (or some combination of the two), you undoubtedly want students to demonstrate that they have completed the reading in a way that doesn’t torture them or you.  In far too many schools, I’ve seen assignments that are boring for students and time-consuming for teachers to grade.  You don’t want to come back in the fall and start out frustrated and annoyed with your new students, right?

Instead of plot summaries (which invite plagiarism) or numerous journal entries (which, in bulk, can undermine the fun of reading) or any number of other options that result in superficial responses (or no responses at all), consider this Character Analysis approach, which is actually useful for follow-up work in the fall.  NOTE: This information is available as a FREE DOWNLOAD on the TLC “Independent Reading” page.  See “FREE SUMMER READING PACKET.”

NAME__________________________DATE__________
SUMMER READING ASSIGNMENT FOR ______grade going into ______grade:

As you read __________________________________, please do the following prior to the first week of school:

  1. Read the book.
  2. Complete TWO character analysis organizers, one for the protagonist (main character) and one for the antagonist (character in opposition to the main character).  Use the attached model based on The Grinch to see how to fill out these organizers.  NOTE: Pay close attention to the topic headings as they are not all the same.
  3. For each character you analyze, write a well-developed paragraph (8-10 sentences) in response to this question: “How does the writer use this character to convey a message or lesson?”  Give EVIDENCE to support your argument.
  4. Take notes on the following three questions as you read so that you can be prepared for the TIMED WRITING when we return to school.  You will be able to use your notes but not your book during the timed writing, so TAKE GOOD NOTES!!!  (PS: You may attach handwritten notes on looseleaf if you need more space.)

GRADING NOTES:  This is a 300-point project!

______/100: TWO character analysis organizers (possible 50 pts. each)

______/100: TWO well-developed paragraphs (possible 50 pts. each)

______/100: TIMED WRITING when we return to school (possible 100 pts.)

HERE ARE THE 3 QUESTIONS to take notes on as you read:

 ***[INSERT QUESTIONS HERE.]***

 ____________________________________________

NAME_____________________________DATE_____

CHARACTER ANALYSIS ORGANIZER FOR: The Grinch (MODEL)

For each box below, respond to character analysis questions 1-3 in phrases.  Then UNDERLINE any items that are related.  Finally, answer questions 4 and 5.

  1. What do we know? OR, What can we safely infer?
  2. How does it affect the character?  (NOTE: No matter what we know, it affects the character.)
  3. Why is it important?  What does it reveal about his/her character?
Family background/Upbringing How s/he is treated vs. how s/he wants to be treated
  1. We aren’t told much about The Grinch’s family; he seems not to have any family left.  He is alone except for his little sidekick.  We can infer he didn’t receive much love growing up because he seems very bitter and unhappy.
  2. At least in the beginning in the story, The Grinch is bitter and unhappy.
  3. The Grinch’s bitterness infects his behavior: he seems not to be able to care about anyone else, so he plots to steal from the townspeople, to ruin their Christmas (possibly because he believes his Christmas will be lonely and unhappy, and he is lashing out).

 

 

  1. The Grinch is alone except for his little sidekick, who simply obeys him (not having any other choice).  It’s not clear at the beginning of the story how he wants to be treated since he’s not used to dealing with people, but later, the townspeople welcome him and treat him with the love he was missing.
  2. Though at first alone, selfish, greedy, and bitter, The Grinch grows a bigger heart (literally and figuratively) as a result of how the townspeople treat one another and him.  He becomes a happier person as a result of the way they treat him.
  3. We learn that people—even those who seem mean and unhappy—can grow and change and become happier as a result of their interactions with other people.

 

Work Philosophies/Values
  1. There is no mention of The Grinch’s work.  If he does anything, we can infer that it is not too meaningful or helpful to others because he does not seem to care about other people—at least, at the beginning of the story.
  2. Not having work he loves may be a factor in why The Grinch seems so unhappy at the beginning.
  3. Not having work he loves seems to poison The Grinch’s character.  Also, he does not know how to deal with other people constructively.  He lacks people skills.

 

  1. At the beginning of the story, The Grinch values material goods more than relationships with other people.
  2. The Grinch plans to steal the Christmas presents of the townspeople.
  3. At least initially, The Grinch is selfish and greedy.  Later, he learns a lesson and changes.

 

 

 

4. What ideas might this character represent?

First The Grinch represents greed, selfishness, and unhappiness.  Then he represents growth and potential.

5. How does the writer use this character to convey a message or lesson?

Dr. Seuss uses The Grinch to show us that even people who seem mean or unhappy can grow and change and become happier as a result of their interactions with other people; we can all help one another become better, happier people.

 _________________________________________________

NAME______________________________DATE______

CHARACTER ANALYSIS ORGANIZER FOR: ___________________________

For each box below, respond to character analysis questions 1-3 in phrases.  Then UNDERLINE any items that are related.  Finally, answer questions 4 and 5.

  1. What do we know? OR, What can we safely infer?
  2. How does it affect the character?  (NOTE: No matter what we know, it affects the character.)
  3. Why is it important?  What does it reveal about his/her character?
Family background/Upbringing How s/he is treated vs. how s/he wants to be treated
1.

 

 

 

 

 

2.

 

 

 

 

 

3.

 

 

 

 

1.

 

 

 

 

 

2.

 

 

 

 

 

3.

Work Philosophies/Values
1.

 

 

 

 

 

2.

 

 

 

 

3.

 

 

 

 

1.

 

 

 

 

 

2.

 

 

 

 

3.

 

 

 

4. What ideas might this character represent?

_________________________________________________________________________________________

5.  How does the writer use this character to convey a message or lesson?

__________________________________________________

NAME_______________________________PARAGRAPH #1

“How does the writer use this character to convey a message or lesson?”  Give EVIDENCE to support your argument. Write a well-developed paragraph (8-10 sentences).

***See the FREE SUMMER READING PACKET on the TLC “Independent Reading” page for the complete document!

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About theliteracycookbook

In addition to this blog, I am the creator of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK Website (www.literacycookbook.com) and ONLY GOOD BOOKS Blog (http://onlygoodbooks.wordpress.com/), and the author of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK: A Practical Guide to Effective Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening Instruction (Jossey-Bass, 2012) and LITERACY AND THE COMMON CORE: Recipes for Action (Jossey-Bass, 2014). Check out my Website for more information about my consulting work.
This entry was posted in Assessment(s), Curriculum, Reading, Resources, Summer Reading, TLC Website Resources and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to SUMMER READING ASSIGNMENT: It’s Not Too Late!

  1. Pingback: SUMMER READING Revisited | The Literacy Cookbook blog

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