Facing Challenges with Strength and Courage

Ken Caryl Middle School’s Summer Reading Program 2017

"To be gritty is to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  To be gritty is to hold fast to an interesting and purposeful goal.  To be gritty is to invest, day after week after year, in challenging practice.  To be gritty is to fall down seven times, and rise eight.”

Angela Lee Duckworth (author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance)

We are excited to introduce the 2017 ‘Grit: Facing Challenges with Strength and Courage’ Summer Reading Program for Ken Caryl Middle School.  The purpose of our ‘Grit’ Summer Reading program is to utilize literature to promote perseverance in the face of adversity and a determination to reach one’s goals.

Our objectives of the summer reading program are as follows:

  1. To increase rigor and higher-level reading for all students;
  2. To give students a choice in what they read;
  3. To have students choose from reading lists with high-interest, award-winning books;
  4. To prevent summer reading regression by keeping our students engaged in literacy activities all summer long;
  5. To promote perseverance, commitment, and dedication by engaging in books centered on the theme of “grit”.

Over the summer, all KCMS students are required to read one book from the ‘Grit’ summer reading list.  We encourage parents and guardians to read the book along with their student.  Students should be prepared to discuss the book and complete an extended writing assignment with their ELA teacher at the beginning of the school year.  Please have a copy of the book on hand at the beginning of the school year to fully engage in classroom activities.

The ‘Grit’ summer reading list was generated by the English Language Arts department and Digital Teacher Librarian at KCMS.  It is comprised of award winning titles from recent years: Newberry Medal Winners, Colorado Blue Spruce Award Winners, and YALSA Award Winners.  All titles are grade level appropriate and closely align with Jeffco curriculum.  We chose titles appealing to a wide range of interest levels and abilities.  Rereading a book one has already read is allowed.  Students may select a book of their choice not on this list so long as it fulfils the thematic requirements of pertaining to grit, perseverance, and facing challenges with strength and determination.

We have partnered with Jeffco’s Columbine Public Library so that our ‘Grit’ titles will be available to our students throughout the summer for loan.  The Tattered Cover (Aspen Grove) and Barnes and Noble (Bowles) have also ensured that these books will be available for purchase throughout the summer.  Electronic versions and audio recordings of these titles are also permissible, if available.

Please complete the following portion and turn it into your English Language Arts teacher at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.

Student Name: _______________________________________________________________________

‘Grit’ Book Title(s): _________________________________________________________

I confirm that my child has read a ‘Grit’ book over the 2017 summer months.  

Parent Signature: _____________________________________________________________________

‘Grit’ Summer 2017 Reading List

Title and Author



The Crossover

by Kwame Alexander

Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.

* 2015 Newbery Medal Winner and 2015 Coretta Scott King Honor Award Winner, recommended by the ELA department

The Running Dream

by Wendelin Van Draanen 

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 wonderful way to help rekindle her dream of running again.

* Winner of the Schneider Family Book Award, recommended by Ms. Barbe & Ms. Van Hefty


by Gary Paulsen

After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the Canadian wilderness, learning to survive with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents' divorce.

* Awarded the Newberry Medal, 1988

Fish in a Tree

by Linda Mullaly Hunt

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of.

* New York Times bestseller, recommended by the 7th grade ELA teachers

House Arrest

by K. A. Holt

Timothy is on probation. It's a strange word--something that happens to other kids, to delinquents, not to kids like him. And yet, he is under house arrest for the next year. He must check in weekly with a probation officer and a therapist, and keep a journal for an entire year. And mostly, he has to stay out of trouble. But when he must take drastic measures to help his struggling family, staying out of trouble proves more difficult than Timothy ever thought it would be.

* Recommended by Ms. Barbe

Esperanza Rising

by Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza and her mother are forced to leave their life of wealth and privilege in Mexico to go work in the labor camps of Southern California, where they must adapt to the harsh circumstances facing Mexican farm workers on the eve of the Great Depression.

* Pura Belpre Award for Writing, recommended by the ELA department

The Bitter Side of Sweet

by Tara Sullivan

Kept as forced labor on a chocolate plantation in the Ivory Coast, Amadou and his younger brother Seydou had given up hope, until a young girl arrives at the camp who rekindles the urge to escape.

* Recommended by Ms. Barbe

Inside Out and Back Again

by Thanhha Lai

Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.

* Awarded 2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and one of two Newbery Honors

The Boy Who Dared

by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Novel based on the true story of a Hitler Youth. In October 1942, seventeen-year-old Helmuth Hubener, imprisoned for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets, recalls his past life and how he came to dedicate himself to bring the truth about Hitler and the war to the German people.

* Recommended by Ms. Nickoloff, Digital Teacher Librarian

Brown Girl Dreaming

by Jacqueline Woodson

The author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up as an African American in the North and South in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

* Awarded the Newbery Honor, the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Coretta Scott King Book Award, and an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work- youth/teens.

I Have a Bad Feeling

About This 

by Jeff Strand

Everything unathletic sixteen-year-old Henry was dreading about survival camp turns out to be true--or even worse--when armed killers arrive and survival takes on a whole new meaning for the campers.

* Recommended by Arra Katona, Teen Librarian at Jeffco Public Libraries

I am Malala

by Malala Yousafzai

(Young Readers Edition)

Malala Yousafzai's describes her fight for education for girls under Taliban rule, the support she received from her parents to pursue an education, and how the Taliban retaliated against her by trying to kill her. Nonfiction option.

* Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Recommended by Ms. Nickoloff, Digital Teacher Librarian

No Summit Out of Sight 

by Jordan Romero and Linda LeBlanc

The story of Jordan Romero, who at the age of 13 became the youngest person ever to reach the summit of Mount Everest. At age 15, he reached the summits of the world's 7 highest mountains. Nonfiction option.

* Recommended by Ms. Thomas, Digital Teacher Librarian at Columbine High School

Orbiting Jupiter

by Gary Schmidt

Jack, 12, tells the gripping story of Joseph, 14, who joins his family as a foster child. Damaged in prison, Joseph wants nothing more than to find his baby daughter, Jupiter, whom he has never seen. When Joseph has begun to believe he'll have a future, he is confronted by demons from his past that force a tragic sacrifice.

* Recommended by Ms. Barbe

Shark Girl

by Kelly Bingham

After a shark attack causes the amputation of her right arm, fifteen-year-old Jane, an aspiring artist, struggles to come to terms with her loss and the changes it imposes on her day-to-day life and her plans for the future.

* Recommended by the ELA department