Summer Reading Assignments

All Students must complete a Summer Reading Assignment, which will be due on the first day of classes in the fall. For additional reading suggestions for students, see our recommended reading list.

Lower School

The summer reading assignment is designed to cultivate a love of reading among our Lower School students and to prepare them for the fall academic culture at Sparhawk.  Lower School students must read all of the books listed for their respective grade before the first day of school, unless a book is listed as optional reading.

Much of the first few days of classes will be devoted to group discussions, presentations, and games based on the summer reading books. No book reports or essays need to be written before school begins. It is very fruitful for parents to read the books with their sons (aloud together or separately).

If your son is looking for more good titles to read beyond the summer assignment, here are links to lists of recommended reading for Grades 3, 4, and 5.  If a poem has been assigned to be memorized in addition to the reading, boys should memorize this before the first day of school.  After memorizing it, it would be good for him to practice presenting it to his family!

Grade 3: Mr. Ferrari

  1. Read American Tall Tales by Adrien Stoutenburg

  2. Read any one selection from the Classic Starts series of books (and have a prepared oral presentation summarizing the story)

  3. Memorize Poem: The Eagle by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Grade 4: Mr. Weed

  1. Read By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman

  2. Read Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis

  3. Memorize Poem: My Heart Leaps Up by William Wordsworth

Grade 5: Mr. Houde and Mr. Reilly

  1. Read The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

  2. Read The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis

  3. Optional, but encouraged: Read Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

  4. Memorize Poem: Sea-Fever by John Masefield

Middle School

All Middle School students will be expected to read one or two books and complete a writing assignment. In addition to demonstrated knowledge of the story, students will be graded on proper spelling, punctuation, logic, and style according to their respective grade levels.

Grade 6: Mr. Janeiro

  1. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  2. For returning students, read two books from the following list:

     For new students, read both books below: 

  1. For extra credit: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

During the first week of school, students will be assessed on the basic characters and plot of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and there will be a few in-class written exercises based on the other books the boys read over the summer. Boys may wish to take notes as they read, on things like main characters and key events, but this is not necessary. 

Grade 7: Mr. Lechner and Mr. Keefe

  1. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  2. Read one book from the following list:

After reading Across Five Aprils and one of the other books, your son should write a thoughtful response for each book. This response can be written or typed, it should be at least three paragraphs but no longer than one page, and it should answer the following prompts:

  • Did you enjoy the book? Why or why not?
  • What did you think of the characters? What did you like or dislike about the character(s)?
  • Reflect upon the major themes (main ideas) of the story. In your opinion, what do you think the book was all about?

In addition to the two written/typed responses, to help your son exercise his imagination, we ask that he make one drawing per book.  The drawings can be anything related to the story, eg. a character, a map, or a scene.  If your son prefers to work his imagination in another way, perhaps through painting or crafting something, we are also open to such alternatives.

Grade 8: Mr. Mahoney

  1. Read Olivia Coolidge’s The Trojan War (Please borrow or buy ISBN 978061815428-9 only).
  2. Print out and complete the Prologue Reading Guide as you read the opening prologue of Coolidge (can be completed with pencil, or typed into the Word doc).
  3. Write a 1-2 paragraph response to each of the four questions identifying and analyzing the most heroic character in Coolidge’s account of the Trojan war and its beginnings. This FINAL RESPONSES PDF must be printed out and brought to Sparhawk on the first day of class, or emailed to me before this date.  
  4. Memorize W.H. Auden’s The Shield of Achilles.

Olivia Coolidge’s The Trojan War is the best, most comprehensive introduction to the Homeric Greek world, and the warriors and gods that inhabited that world at the time of the fall of Troy. 

In order to help you engage with the text carefully and closely, I have assigned a brief reading guide for the first three sections of the prologue (see link: Prologue Reading Guide) which must be completed and brought to class on the first day of school. It may be printed and written on in pencil, or, if a printer is unavailable, answers may be typed and the document emailed to me. The purpose of this little reading guide is just to get you started on the text; it is my hope that, after this introductory exercise, the momentum of the story will take over, and the student can relish in the overarching action and broader themes of The Trojan War. 

In addition to completing the reading guide for this book, I am asking each rising eighth grader to carefully think about the following prompt:

  • Who do you think is the most heroic character? Why? Define what it means to be a hero in your own words, and explain why you think this particular character is most heroic. You can do this with an account of his virtues/personality, a description of the ways he acted in and/or influenced the war, and so on.

You will NOT have to write an essay answering this question. Instead, all you are required to do is complete the instructions in the FINAL RESPONSES PDF.