Summer Reading

Summer Reading
Our School’s Mission and Yearly Guiding Principles

The mission of Bishop O’Connell High School is to provide students an education rooted in the life of Christ and to foster the pursuit of excellence in the whole person. To serve that end, each year of our curriculum has been devoted to the study of one of four guiding themes, and texts are selected across the curriculum to serve each of these guiding principles by grade level:

  • Grade 9 - Dignity of the Human Person
  • Grade 10 - Spirituality of Community
  • Grade 11 - Using Faith as a Guide
  • Grade 12 - Living Your Faith in the World Today
Bishop O'Connell English Department

The mission of the English department is to foster excellence in critical thinking, analytical writing, public speaking, and engaged reading. The department strongly believes that reading is a habit to be cultivated and nurtured throughout one’s life and is a habit that does not take a hiatus during the summer months. In the words of American author Ursula K. LeGuin, “We read books to find out who we are. What other people, real or imaginary, do and think and feel . . . is an essential guide to our understanding of what we ourselves are and may become.”

Purpose of Summer Reading

The purpose of summer reading is to build continuity and community for our freshmen through required reading, provide adequate preparation for AP students through required assignments, and introduce the guiding themes to all through recommended reading. To that end, students are asked to read and annotate a series of texts throughout their time away from school, and they should be prepared to return to school and use these annotated texts for in-class discussions and written assessments. To aid in your studying, each text is accompanied with an overarching “essential question” -- by keeping this question in mind as you read and annotate, students will be able to develop a clearer understanding of the broader message of the assigned work and how it relates to the guiding principle for your course and grade level.

Due to the unique circumstances this year, many English classes have recommended summer reading, rather than a specific reading assignment. The recommended reading program is intended to foster student choice and continue the expectation of academic excellence. Time spent preparing this summer will help enrich the year’s experience.

How to Annotate Summer Reading

Before embarking on the works assigned for summer reading, please check out Mortimer Adler’s short essay entitled "How to Mark a Book." This will offer you some insights and helpful tips on annotation, which is a skill you should employ with your reading this summer, as well as carry into our class when we meet this August.

Summer Reading by Courses