2019-2020 Summer Reading

TMSA 2019 Summer Reading Assignment

for Rising 6th, 7th, and 8th graders


Assigned Novels

(Titles are linked to the correct editions on Amazon)


Rising 6th graders:  The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster


Rising 7th graders:  The Witch of Blackbird Pond  by Elizabeth George Speare, a 1959 Newbery Medal winner


Rising 8th graders:  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, a Michael L. Printz Honor Book Award and National Jewish Book Award winner


Due Date

The summer reading assignment is due on the first day of school, August 13, 2019, regardless of whether you are at school or not.  If you are not physically here, you need to email the assignment, share the Google doc with your teacher, or upload it to the teacher’s Google Classroom (if applicable) by 3:00 p.m. on August 13, 2019.


If you complete the assignment prior to the first day of school, submit the assignment early.  Perhaps there will be bonus points for students who completed it ahead of schedule.


This will be the first unit in your ELA class, so it will be important to have read the book and completed this assignment.  Keep in mind there will be quizzes/tests/work based beyond this. 


Assignment Directions


  1. Begin reading the novel, annotating as needed (See FAQ).
  2. After reading the first chapter, stop and write the first response, which is made up of two elements:

    1. In 3-5 sentences, identify the three exposition elements from plot structure:
      • setting – time and place of the story
      • characters introduced with some description
      • basic situation – what is happening in the beginning of the novel
    2. Write a paragraph of 5-8 sentences describing your initial thoughts and if you think you’ll enjoy/understand/relate to the novel.  Use supporting detail.


  3. Keep reading.  After the chapter that ends closest to the halfway mark, you will write a 1+ page typed, double spaced response in complete sentences and paragraphs.  Be sure that, no matter what you talk about, you include specific text details and elaboration.

    Your response can address the following areas:

    • Elements of plot mountain:  inciting incident, development/rising action, climax, resolution/falling action, denouement, conflict
    • Analysis of character development, themes
    • Literary elements you noticed:  symbolism, flashback, foreshadowing, figurative language
    • If you like/dislike the novel and why
    • If you can relate to the storyline/characters
    • If you see connections between this novel and other texts
    • Questions you have about the first half/predictions for the second half


  4. Finish reading the novel.  Then write a 2- to 3-page typed, double spaced response to the novel that includes three specific topics: 
  • identification of major conflict and how it was resolved
  • identification of one major theme and how that was developed
  • your personal review of the novel (like/dislike, etc.)


NOTE:  This response should be academic and formal in tone and vocabulary.  It should be an example of your very best writing with correct spelling, capitalization, grammar, and punctuation.  You need to incorporate specific text details and elaboration in your response.  If you want to cite quotes to help support your points, you may do that; just be sure to include the page number in parenthesis at the end of the sentence that includes the quote.


CONFLICTS:  character vs. character, char. vs. nature, char. vs. self, char. vs. supernatural


THEME:  A lesson about people or life that is learned from the literary text, i.e., “Power can corrupt people” or “Treat others as you would like to be treated.”





  1. You MUST use Times New Roman 12 pt. font and double space the entire document if you type this up.  Use 1-inch margins, nothing larger.
  2. Put all parts of the assignment on one continuous document.
  3. Write in indented paragraphs and complete sentences.
  4. One page is one side typed and double spaced with 1-inch margins.
  5. You must do this work independently.  Teachers want to see your level of ability, so no parental assistance (not even proofreading, please).  Don’t consult your peers or the Internet either.  Do this on your own so we know what we need to teach you.


                        Do I have to annotate the novel?
         There is no annotation requirement except for underlining new vocabulary words. 

  • You should annotate the novel as much as you need to so that you understand what you’re reading and can provide specific details in your written responses: 

  • Underline words that you do not know. 
  • Highlight/underline/star important details or quotes.  Or put an exclamation point in the margin.
  • Underline examples of similes and metaphors that you notice. 
  • Put a question mark in the margin if you were confused by something. 
  • Jot down terminology or mini summaries/bullet points in the margin.


                     Can I hand-write my responses?  If I do, how long do they need to be?

    • Handwritten responses are acceptable.  However, do not skip lines on the notebook paper and double the length requirement for typed responses.  Make sure your handwriting is legible.


            What if I have questions over the summer?

    • You can email Mrs. Thompson at kthompson@tmsacademy.org.  She will respond within 24-48 hours.


            Who will my teacher be next year?

    • Mrs. Thompson will be teaching 8th graders (kthompson@tmsacademy.org) and Mrs. Dawson will be teaching 7th graders (rdawson@tmsacademy.org).  A new teacher will be hired for 6th grade.