LITERACY AND THE COMMON CORE(Note: The original version of this post appeared on the TLC Blog in 2013, and an updated version appeared on MiddleWeb on April 1, 2015. This version is slightly different from both.)

If you want your students to engage in summer reading, now is a good time to plan something meaningful and manageable for them.

Whether assigning particular books or giving students a range of choices (or some combination of the two), you will 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.

You will ask students to do four things:

  • Read the book.
  • Complete TWO character analysis organizers, one for the protagonist (main character) and one for the antagonist (character in opposition to the main character). In my example, I’ve filled out the organizer using the Dr. Seuss character The Grinch as the example.
  • For each character they analyze, students will 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?”  and give evidence to support their argument.
  • They will also be asked to take notes on several teacher-devised questions as they read so that they can be prepared for a TIMED WRITING activity when they return to school.

The character analysis questions are answered by the student in four topic boxes (see my model), labeled this way:

  • Family background/Upbringing
  • How s/he is treated vs. how s/he wants to be treated
  • Work
  • Philosophies/Values

Students will also answer two summative questions about each character.

In this FREE download, SUMMER READING PACKET-rev 2015, you’ll also see grading suggestions.


About theliteracycookbook

In addition to this blog, I am the creator of THE LITERACY COOKBOOK Website ( and ONLY GOOD BOOKS Blog (, 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), Character Analysis, Curriculum, Novels, Reading, Reading Literature, Resources, Summer Reading, TLC Website Resources, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to SUMMER READING Revisited

  1. Pingback: Independent Reading and Summer Reading RESOURCES | The Literacy Cookbook blog

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