Dear Parents/Guardians of Incoming Eighth Graders:
While your children are beginning what is sure to be a wonderful summer vacation, we are also concerned that the COVID-19 crisis and prolonged school closure will weaken the many reading gains that our students have made this year. When it comes to English class, we think the best way to maintain these gains is through consistent, engaged reading. We recognize that you also want to help prepare them for a successful start to the next academic year. Since reading is the foundation of all learning, we feel that it is essential for students to spend some time reading this summer. Therefore, to do our best to maintain reading stamina and foundational reading gains our students have made this year, we are requiring all incoming eighth graders to read one book from the attached list.
Although all of the books are worth considering, please make sure your child reads at least one. This MUST be a book that your child has not previously read. It is a good idea to take some notes while reading because students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the book upon returning to school in September.
Books may be found at area bookstores, the public library, or at Amazon.com. You can find book reviews at the NoveList website, which may be accessed through the “Online Databases” link at the top of the Middle School Library’s homepage. This letter and the summer reading lists may also be viewed on the district web page.
We hope you enjoy a safe, peaceful, and relaxing summer.
The OPMS English Department
Orchard Park Middle School - Summer Reading List – 2020-2021
Students Entering Grade 8
Please note the following abbreviations:
[RR] – recommended for reluctant readers
[M] - for mature readers; may contain mature themes, or may include occasional use of questionable language.
GRL: Guided Reading Level (Fountas & Pinnell) indicates text complexity A-Z
Bowler, Tim. Storm Catchers [M] Lexile: 560 GRL: V
Filled with guilt over his younger sister Ella’s kidnapping, Fin tries to rescue her and in the process learns about a dark family secret. Fin comes to realize that Ella is not the only victim and that the real villain may be closer to home than he thought.
Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. The War That Saved My Life - Lexile: 580 GRL: Z
A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.
Bruchac, Joseph. Code Talker [RR] Lexile: 910 GRL: W
Sixteen-year-old Ned enlists in the U.S Marines during World War II. He calls upon his Navajo language, traditions, and consciousness to survive the battlefield and radio top secret information by code.
Cartaya, Pablo. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora - Lexile: 750 GRL: V
Arturo Zamora must save his family's restaurant before a land developer destroys it. He teams up with the funny, cute new girl, Carmen, to thwart the developer's plans and help bring the community together.
Cooney, Caroline B. Code Orange [RR] Lexile: 850 GRL: V
While conducting research for a school paper on smallpox, Mitty finds an envelope containing 100-year-old smallpox scabs, and he fears that he has infected himself and all of New York City.
Evans, Richard Paul. Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 - Lexile: 500 GRL: Z
Fourteen-year-old Michael discovers he has special electric powers, and with the help of his best friends, realizes there are other teens with similar powers. Then his mother gets kidnapped, and Michael and his friends begin a quest to rescue his mom and save themselves.
Gaiman, Neil. Graveyard Book - Lexile: 820 GRL: X
The orphan Bod, short for Nobody, is taken in by the inhabitants of a graveyard as a child of eighteen months and raised lovingly and carefully to the age of eighteen by the community of ghosts and otherworldly creatures.
Gephart, Donna. Lily and Dunkin - Lexile: 680 GRL: Z
Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you're in the eighth-grade. Norbert Dorfman, nicknamed Dunkin Dorfman, is bipolar and has just moved from the New Jersey town he's called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.
Green, Tim. Left Out. - Lexile: 800 GRL: V
Landon Dorch has always felt left out due to his deafness that affects his speech and requires him to have cochlear implants. He finally secures a place on the seventh-grade football team, but it proves harder than he thought. Then Landon gets some help from star players who know all about being different, and he digs deep into himself to fight his way off the bench.
Hersey, John. Hiroshima. [M] Lexile: 1190 GRL: Z
An account of the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima in 1945, from the viewpoint of the people who lived through it. Look for the new edition with a final chapter written forty years after the explosion.
Howe, James. Also Known as Elvis [RR] Lexile: 780 GRL: U
Skeezie Tookis navigates a pivotal summer of first crushes and tough choices in this conclusion to the bestselling and acclaimed quartet that began with The Misfits. Skeezie’s got the leather jacket of a tough guy, but a heart of gold—and his story, the fourth and final chapter of the beloved Misfits series, is brimming with life’s tough choices, love in all directions, and enough sweet potato fries to go around.
Hughes, Dean. Search and Destroy [M] Lexile: 740 GRL: W
Recent high school graduate Rick Ward, undecided about his future and eager to escape his unhappy home life, joins the Army and experiences the horrors of the war in Vietnam.
Koja, Kathe. Buddha Boy - Lexile: 1090 GRL: X
Justin’s life at Edward Rucher High changes dramatically when he befriends the bizarre Buddha Boy, who is rejected by the popular kids in the school. Justin is exposed to a new world and a unique way of looking at life, as he is forced to choose between genuine friendship and social acceptance.
Liparulo, Robert. The House of Dark Shadows - Lexile: 580 GRL: Y
Fifteen-year-old Xander and his family move into an old, abandoned house in the middle of a dense forest outside of a small California town. They soon discover that not only are some of the rooms portals into other places, but that malevolent forces are also at work.
Marshall, Kate Alice. I Am Still Alive - Lexile: HL690 GRL: n/a
After a car crash kills her mother, Jess goes to live with her survivalist, off-the-grid father--whom she hasn't seen in a decade--in the Canadian wilderness. But just as the two begin to reconnect, a secret from his past arrives leaving him dead and the cabin burned to the ground. Suddenly, Jess finds herself abandoned in the cold Canadian wilderness. With only her dog for company, Jess must find a way to survive the harsh environment if she is to seek revenge on the person who killed her father.
Mass, Wendy. A Mango-shaped Space - Lexile: 770 GRL: V
Teenaged Mia has a secret ability that makes her feel like a freak. She embarks on an intense journey of self-discovery, but by the time she realizes she has isolated herself from everyone who cares about her, it’s almost too late. This is realistic fiction with an unusual twist.
Mikaelsen, Ben. Touching Spirit Bear - Lexile: 670 GRL: Y
After his anger erupts into violence, Cole, in order to avoid going to prison, agrees to participate in a sentencing alternative based on the Native American Circle Justice. He is sent to a remote Alaskan Island where an encounter with a huge Spirit Bear changes his life.
O’Roark, Frances. Shooting the Moon - Lexile: 890 GRL: T
After her brother TJ joins the army and is sent to Vietnam, 12-year-old Jamie Dexter is proud that TJ is following in their father's footsteps. Instead of letters, TJ sends Jamie undeveloped rolls of film, and what she sees when she develops them reveals a whole new side of the war.
Palacio, R.J. White Bird [M] Lexile: 440 GRL: Y
Inspired by her blockbuster phenomenon Wonder, R. J. Palacio makes her graphic novel debut with an unforgettable story of the power of kindness and unrelenting courage in a time of war. Sara's harrowing experience movingly demonstrates the power of kindness to change hearts, build bridges, and even save lives.
Priest, Cherie. I Am Princess X - Lexile: 790 GRL: Z+
Years after writing stories about a superheroine character she created with a best friend who died in a tragic car accident, 16-year-old May is shocked to see stickers, patches and graffiti images of the superheroine appearing all over town.
Ritter, John. Over the Wall - Lexile: 590 GRL: U
Thirteen-year-old Tyler, who has trouble controlling his anger, spends an important summer with his cousins in New York City, playing baseball and sorting out how he feels about violence, war, and in particular the Vietnamese conflict that took his grandfather's life.
Sanderson, Brandon. Steelheart - Lexile: 680 GRL: Z
At age eight, David watched as his father was killed by an Epic, a human with superhuman powers, and now, ten years later, he joins the Reckoners- the only people who are trying to kill the Epics and end their tyranny.
Sands, Kevin. The Blackthorn Key - Lexile: 630 GRL: Y
In 1665 London, fourteen-year-old Christopher Rowe, apprentice to an apothecary, and his best friend, Tom, try to uncover the truth behind a mysterious cult, following a trail of puzzles, codes, pranks, and danger toward an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.
Schmidt, Gary. Wednesday Wars [M] Lexile: 990 GRL: X
On Wednesday afternoons during the 1967 school year, when all his classmates go to either Catechism or Hebrew school, 7th grader Holling Hoodhood stays in Mrs. Baker’s classroom. Together they read the plays of William Shakespeare, and Holling learns a lot about the world he lives in.
Sonnenblick, Jordan. Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip [M] Lexile: 800 GRL: X
After an injury ends star pitcher Peter Friedman’s athletic dreams, he concentrates on photography, which leads him to a girlfriend, new fame as a sports photographer and a deeper relationship with his aging grandfather, who is developing Alzheimer’s.
Sonnenblick, Jordan. Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie - Lexile: 940 GRL: Y
When his younger brother is diagnosed with leukemia, 13-year-old Steven tries to deal with his complicated emotions, his school life, and his desire to support his family. Readers will love both brothers, laughing, crying, and rooting for both of them!
Spinelli, Jerry. Milkweed - Lexile: 510 GRL:Y
This is a historical, fictionalized account of a street child known only as Stopthief. Stopthief finds a community when he is taken in by a band of orphans in the Warsaw ghetto, and they help him to weather the horrors of the Nazi regime.
Stahler, Jr., David. Truesight - Lexile: 860 GRL: X
Everyone in Jacob’s colony is born blind. It has always been this way. The colonists of Harmony embrace the philosophy of Truesight: blindness brings unity, purity, and freedom. Jacob has never questioned the ideals of Truesight until, as he nears his thirteenth birthday, a searing pain in his eyes threatens his future. This is the first of a trilogy.
Standish, Ali. The Ethan I Was Before - Lexile: 730 GRL: n/a
Twelve-year-old Ethan Truitt and his family have relocated from Boston to a small town in Georgia after a tragic accident involving his best friend Kacey—an incident that leaves him haunted by guilt. He thinks he might never find joy again until he meets Coralee, a daring girl who helps him feel alive again. But there's more to Coralee than meets the eye—and her secrets could put both their lives at risk.
Stiefvater, Maggie. The Raven Boys [M] Lexile: 760 GRL: Z
Though she is from a family of clairvoyants, Blue Sargent's only gift seems to be that she makes other people's talents stronger, and when she meets Gansey, one of the Raven Boys from the expensive Aglionby Academy, she discovers that he has talents of his own--and that together their talents are a dangerous mix.
Toalson, R.L. The Colors of the Rain [M]
Written in free verse, set against the backdrop of the desegregation battles in 1972 Houston, Texas is about a young boy and his family dealing with loss and the revelation of dark family secrets. The Colors of the Rain is an authentic, heartbreaking portrait of loss and human connection during an era fraught with racial tension set in verse from debut author R. L. Toalson.
Van Draanen, Wendelin. Runaway - Lexile: 740 GRL: W
After running away from her fifth foster home, Holly, a twelve-year-old orphan, travels across the country, keeping a journal of her experiences and struggle to survive.
Van Draanen, Wendelin. The Running Dream - Lexile: 650 GRL: X
When a school bus accident leaves sixteen-year-old Jessica an amputee, she returns to school with a prosthetic limb and her track team finds a way to help rekindle her dream of running again.
White, Robb. Deathwatch - Lexile: 990 GRL: Z+
Ben, a college student and desert hunting guide, encounters a life-and-death struggle for survival when he embarks on a hunting excursion and must match wits with Medac, his fellow traveler.
Woodson, Jacqueline. Brown Girl Dreaming - Lexile: 990 GRL: Z
The author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South.