AcademicsAug 16, 2021
— updated Aug 16, 2021
A Very Timely Read
The MHS Summer Book Club
What’s on bookshelves this summer at MHS?
Plenty. Click here to see the annual MHS Recommended Summer Reading List, collated by students in the ReAD (Recommendation and Discussion) Club. Members worked hard to choose a varied, dynamic bunch of suggestions for all to enjoy. Thank you, ReAD Club!
And, the MHS English Department has invited students and adults to participate in a community-wide reading of A Large Expanse of Sea, by Tahereh Mafi.
This coming-of-age, young adult novel deals with questions of identity, family, community, and love, as well as how the destructive forces of racism and sexism create barriers and cause harm. These themes are everywhere in the English curriculum at MHS, notes Julie Schutzman, Ph.D., Phoebe Goodhue Milliken ’37 English Department Chair.
“It's always a good time to learn about and feel the struggles and triumphs of another, through the near-magical medium of fiction.”
Phoebe Goodhue Milliken ’37 English Department Chair
From a focus on coming-of-age in 9th grade and questions about community and inclusion in 10th, to upper-level courses on identity and ethics, we spend time exploring the very essence of what it means to be human in today's connected, dynamic, challenging world, " Dr. Schutzman shares of the English Department curriculum at MHS.
“Central to this book is the main character, Shirin's, identity as a Muslim who chooses to wear a hijab,” she notes. “It is one year after 9-11, and the racism, stereotyping, and discrimination she faces are intense. Shirin is powerful and vulnerable, Mafi's story is both engaging and important, and there are sharp insights here that will resonate with every reader.”
The English Department chose the book for this year’s summer read based on the recommendation of English Teacher and Leonhardt Family Teaching Chair Rebecca Cook-Dubin. The Department not only wanted to showcase Mafi's entertaining, moving, and eye-opening story, but also open the door to further discussion.
“It's always a good time to learn about and feel the struggles and triumphs of another, through the near-magical medium of fiction,” Dr. Schutzman explains. “This novel offers a glimpse of life in the U.S. in 2002 for a Muslim American girl who finds herself perceived by fellow high school students as an enemy. It's an important history lesson — and a celebration of personal growth and courage.”
And, if you’re looking for more to read, be sure to check out the list compiled by ReAD Club. There are 120 books on the list!
“ReAD Club members love to read and share recommendations with other students, so curating the summer book list gave this group the chance to put together a list of their favorites, balanced by genre and split into fiction and non-fiction,” Dr. Schutzman adds. “Since the club is a big group, with lots of reading interests and tastes, they were able to create both YA and adult lists to offer every student tons of choice. We're really proud of this list—and of the students who put it together!”