Required Summer Reading Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

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Required Summer Reading

Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
All students entering 8th grade at Grady Middle School are required to read two novels during the summer: one required, and one choice. The required novel will be used as a reference text as well as used to teach new skills. Therefore, each student must purchase the book from any major book store or download it to an eReader. There will be a comprehensive assessment given over the novel during the first week of school.

This same required novel will be used by all grade levels during advisory.

From Goodreads:

In the tradition of Out of My Mind, Wonder, and Mockingbird, this is an intensely moving middle grade novel about being an outsider, coping with loss, and discovering the true meaning of family. 

Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life... until now.

Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read. 

Required ReadingCounting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
ELA Assignment Packet Includes the Following:

  • Double-Entry directions, example, and template

  • Book review template for a fiction or nonfiction book of your choice, preferably read on MyOn

  • Article Critique Assignment with Grading Rubric

  • Information about Independent Reading Units for the Upcoming School Year

  • Lists of Suggested Book Titles for Independent Reading for the Upcoming School Year

Organizing Your Summer Reading Assignment

Students should make the conscious effort to put their best work forward. Please adhere to the following:

  • Errors in writing conventions such as spelling, capitalization and punctuation should not be present.

  • All answers and responses should be in complete sentences with text support.

  • If you use another source, you must cite it both in your document (in-text citation) and on a works cited page. See the MLA manual or online at the Purdue Owl for help.

  • Responses and reflections may be typed or handwritten. You are invited to use the format in this packet, but are not required to do so.

Double Entry Journals

Students will complete a double-entry journal with seven quotes and seven reflections over the course of the whole book, Counting by 7’s.

Directions: Double-Entry Journals (also known as dialectical journals) is a special type of reading log in which the pages are divided into two columns. In the left column students write quotes from the story they are reading, and in the right column they reflect on each quote. They may relate a quote to their own lives, react to it, write a question, or make some other connection.
Example: The following are excerpts from a 5th grade student’s double-entry journal about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Lewis, 1950).



Chapter 1

I tell you this is the sort of house where no one is going to mind what we do.

Chapter 5

“How do you know?” he asked, “that your sister’s story is not true?”

Chapter 15

Still they could see the shape of the great lion lying dead in his bonds.

They’re nibbling at the cords.

I remember the time that I went to Beaumont, Texas to stay with my aunt. My aunt’s house was very large. She had a piano and she let us play it. She told us what we could do whatever we wanted to do.

It reminds me of when I was little and I had an imaginary place. I would go there in my mind. I made up all kinds of make-believe stories about myself in this imaginary place. One time I told my big brother about my imaginary place. He laughed at me and told me I was silly. But it didn’t bother me because nobody can stop me from thinking what I want.

When Aslan died I thought about when my Uncle Carl died. This reminds me of the story where the lion lets the mouse go and the mouse helps the lion.

Choice Novel: Book Review Template

Book Review Template for Middle School

Summary: Write a summary of a fiction or nonfiction book of your choice. You are encouraged to read a book on Your username is your iStation log in, and the password is MyOn.

First Paragraph- Write about the setting (where the story takes place, usually the time and place). Introduce the main character or characters in the story. For example, what are the characters’ names? Qualities? What motivates them? Discuss what conflict or problem the main character faces in the story. If you’re still having trouble starting, you can answer the questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Second Paragraph- Summarize what happens up until the high point (climax) of the story. Don’t give away the ending; this should be just enough to tease the reader into wanting to get this book. Use some of these transition words to help write the review:








After that




For example


As a result



Opinion- Write a paragraph giving your opinion on the book. Use these guidelines:

Write about why you like or dislike the book. Give details. For example, was the book confusing? Was it too easy to read, or was it too hard? Was it predictable/believable? Did you like the ending? What was your favorite part? What connections did you make with your life or with other books? Talk about the author’s style of writing and give examples from the book. Minimum five sentences.

Recommendation- Explain whether you would recommend this book to students, or not. Rate the book from 1-5 stars, five being the best, and give examples from the text why you gave it the rating you did. Examples should include a quote or quotes from the book, or a summary of the part of the book that you liked or did not like.

Nonfiction Article Critique Assignment
Please follow the directions below.

  1. Search for TWO (2) NON-FICTION pieces. The world-wide web is the optimal source for searching. However, not all locations are trustworthy.

  2. One (1) of the pieces must be a non-fiction article. You may use the “Nature of of Modern Science and Scientific Knowledge” by Dr. Martin Nickels article or the “Learning Science” by Isaac Asimov for this assignment. The other piece may be your choice and may include a documentary, non-fiction book, or YouTube video, for example. Remember, both pieces must be NON-FICTION.

First Name & Last Name

Month Day, 2014

8th English & Reading

Mrs. Leahy/Ms. Narvaez


  • Paragraph 1: Summary of the article including author’s purpose (What did the author want us to know?)

  • Paragraph 2: What did you learn from this piece of nonfiction?

  • Paragraph 3: Connect this piece of nonfiction with the novel or another content area, i.e. science, math, history, art, Wonder, etc.

  • Paragraph 4: What did you think about this article? Do you agree with it? Disagree? Use this last paragraph to reflect.

Note –Required Font Size: 12pt.

Required font: Times New Roman, Calibri, etc

In-text citation is expected when using another source to support your ideas. I will be looking for it.


Works Cited

MLA Citation: Author of the Article – Last Name, First Name; Title of the Article, Date Article was Written or Given to You

Using the nonfiction reflection format below, write a multi-paragraph response for each piece.
Scoring the Article Critique
Students will be assessed in two of the four Language A criterion:
Criterion A – Analyzing Criterion D – Using Language

Scoring Rubric
7 – 8: Response clearly demonstrates understanding of the task, completes all requirements, and provides an insightful explanation/opinion that links to or extends aspects of the text.
5 – 6: Response demonstrates an understanding of the task, completes all requirements, and provides some explanation/opinion using situations or ideas from the text as support.
3 – 4: Response may address all of the requirements, but demonstrates a partial understanding of the task, and uses text incorrectly or with limited success resulting in an inconsistent or flawed explanation.
2 – 1: Response demonstrates minimal understanding of the task, does not complete the requirements, and provides only a vague reference to or no use of the text.
Response does not provide enough information for the teacher to evaluate.

0: Response is irrelevant or off-topic or has been plagiarized.


8th Grade Summer Reading Turn-In Checklist

  • Copy of Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

  • Double-Entry Journal with seven quotes and seven reflections

  • Book Review for another book, fiction or nonfiction, read on MyOn

  • Two nonfiction reflections:

    • Reflection of a nonfiction article

      • It may be an article from another teacher’s summer reading assignment

    • Reflection for another piece of nonfiction in whatever format I choose, whether it’s another article, a documentary, a book, a YouTube video, a podcast, an interview….

  • Sources are cited in-text and as well as on a works cited page.

All of this is due the first week of school. You may email your work when you finish it over the summer to: or to

Independent Reading for 2015-2016 8th Graders

Henry W. Grady Middle School

Eighth grade ELA classes will participate in independent reading throughout the school year. This handout is intended to provide students with a jump-start on the required reading for our first and subsequent independent reading assignments.
Each independent reading unit will involve reading a book from an assigned genre, completing written literature circle questions, sharing in small groups, and completing a written IR (independent reading) assessment. The requirements and expectations of IR questions and assessments will be covered with students in the Fall Semester when school starts.
The written IR assignments that students will do throughout the year will require them to use specific details from the text. Therefore, we strongly urge you to buy copies of the books so that your student will still have the books in his/her possession when it is time to do the assignments.
A tentative timeline for our independent reading assignments is included below for your reference and a list of suggested titles for each IR assignment is included at the end of this handout.
IR (Independent Reading) Genre Timeline for 2015-2016

IR #1 – September/October – Mystery/Science Fiction/Fantasy

IR #2 – November/December – Biography/Nonfiction

IR #3 –-January/February – WWII/Holocaust/War in the Pacific

IR #4 – March/April – Historical fiction with an emphasis on US history

IR #5 – April/May – Free Choice

Each IR Book must meet the following requirements:

-falls under one of the genres requested for that particular IR assignment

-is 200 pages or more (this is only a guideline; if the book is a bit shy of 200 pages, it is acceptable).

-appropriate level of reading and interest for your student

-parent approves of the book (we will collect signed parent approval forms throughout the year)
The first independent reading unit will begin approximately four weeks after school begins. Students will need to bring a copy of their mystery/science fiction/fantasy book with them at this time.

Suggested Titles for Independent Reading Assignments

NOTE: These are just suggestions. Students may select books not on this list provided that the books meet the previously described requirements and have parent approval.
IR #1 – Mystery/ Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror


And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

Last Shot by John Feinstein

Scorpia by Anthony Horowitz


Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray BradburyFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
1984 by George Orwell

Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Shadowland by Meg Cabot
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Vampire Plagues I: London 1850 by Sebastian Rook

IR #2 – Biography/Nonfiction

Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-li Jiang

Angela’s Ashes by Frank Mc Court

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angleou

Hawk: Occupation Skateboarder by Tony Hawk

Ryan White: My Own Story by Ryan White, Ann Marie Cunningham, and Jeanne White

The Greatest: Muhammad Ali by Walter Dean Myers

Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton

A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio by Peg Kehret

Escape from Slavery: The True Story of My Ten Years in Captivity and My Journey to Freedom in America by Francis Bok and Edward Tivnan

Zlata's Diary: A Child's Life in Wartime Sarajevo Revised Edition by Zlata Filipovic

Beckham: Both Feet on the Ground: An Autobiography by David Beckham & Tom Watt

My Life and the Beautiful Game: The Autobiography of Soccer's Greatest Star by Pele

Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

Enrique’s Journey by Sandra Nazario

Falling Leaves: A Memoir of an Unwanted Chinese Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah

Bad Boy: A Memoir by Walter Dean Myers

High Exposure: An Enduring Passion for Everest and Unforgiving Places by David F. Breashears

Warriors Don't Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock's Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals

Go for the Goal: A Champion's Guide to Winning in Soccer and Life by Mia Hamm

When I was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago

IR #3 – WWII/Holocaust/War in the Pacific

All but My Life by Gerda Weissman Klein

The Cage by Ruth Minsky Sender

Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac

Daniel Half Human by David Chotjewitz

The Diary of Dawid Sierakowiak Edited by Alan Adelson

Eleanor’s Story – An American Girl in Hitler’s Germany by Eleanor Ramrath Garner

Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience during and After the World War II Internment by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom

Hidden Child of the Holocaust by Stacy Cretzmeyer

I Have Lived A Thousand Years: Growing Up In The Holocaust by Livia Bitton-Jackson

If I Should Die Before I Wake by Han Nolan

In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Updike

I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree: A Memoir of a Schindler's List Survivor by Laura Hillman

In the Mouth of the Wolf by Rose Zar

The Last Mission by Harry Mazer

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War by Anita Lobel

Parallel Journeys by Elanor Ayer

Rena's Promise by Rena Kornreich Gelissen

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

Touch Wood: A Girlhood in Occupied France by Renee Roth-Hano

The Road From Home: A True Story of Courage, Survival and Hope by David Kherdian

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

The Devil’s Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

IR #4 Historical Fiction

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Chains: Seeds of America Laurie Halse Anderson

The Scarlet Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne

April Morning by Howard Fast

Johnny Tremaine by Esther Forbes

The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood

A Break With Charity by Ann Rinaldi

Cast Two Shadows by Ann Rinaldi

The Arrow Over the Door by Joseph Bruchac

The Winter People by Joseph Bruchac

My Brother Sam is Dead by James Collier

The Ransom of Mercy Carter by Caroline Cooney

Roanoke by Sonia Levitan

A Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth Speare

Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare

Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harrier E. Jacobs Mary E. Lyons

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

War Comes to Willie Freeman James and Christopher Collier

Bull Run Paul Fleischman

The Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane

IR #5 – Free Choice

Students can choose any book they haven’t read before that meets the previously described requirements and has parent approval.

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