Middle School Summer Learning Resources

Reading Assignments Required
Learning Resources by Subject

English as an Additional Language - Required Summer Reading List

In the spring of 2018, each student will be assigned an initial placement in an English or MS Academic English class. As in previous years, we will use the first few weeks of Fall 2018 to continue assessments and make any final adjustments to MS students' English language course placements.

All students placed in MS Academic English (Introduction to, Intermediate, or Advanced) classes are expected to read at least two titles from the list below.

  • Each returning student (except 8th graders) will check out TWO summer reading textbooks that they must return in September. Unreturned summer textbooks will be invoiced to families.
  • New students should visit the Penguin English Readers website where books can be chosen and ordered through Pearson or Amazon.

When students arrive in the fall, they should expect their teacher to ask what they read over the summer, and they will be asked to write about or share what they read. They will not be tested on these readings, but they should expect to do presentations, write paragraphs, and discuss in class the required summer reading texts.

We would also like students to experiment with reading different levels and genres over the course of the summer. They may do this by finding additional texts of their choice on Amazon, Goodreads, YALSA, or any number of other wonderful young adult literature websites. Every teacher will aid the students in researching and brainstorming a few suitable choices before the 2017-18 academic year ends. Links to additional resources can be found on the MS EAL Summer Enrichment list.

We look forward to welcoming you into our MS Academic English classes at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year.

Students Entering Introduction to MS Academic English

Students must read two of the following abridged titles. All are available to buy online from the Black Cat website. Black Cat readers are also available in eBook form.

Black Cat Readers Starter A1

The Jungle Book, by Rudyard Kipling
Adapted by Kelly Reinhart; Activities by Eleanor Donaldson
Book and CD: 978-88-530-0418-5

The Secret of the Stones, by Victoria Heward

Book and CD: 978-88-530-1411-5

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L.Frank Baum; Adapted by Gina D.B. Clemen
Book and CD: 978-88-530-0451-2

Mystery in San Francisco
Book and CD: 978-88-530-0215-0

Students Entering Intermediate MS Academic English

Two of the following abridged titles will be assigned to each student. They will check out these books for the summer. They must be returned in the first week of the fall semester. Unreturned books will be invoiced.

New students should visit the Penguin English Readers website where two books can be chosen and ordered through Pearson or Amazon.

The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
Pearson English Reader Level 3, Book and Audio CD

And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
Pearson English Reader Level 3, Book and M-ROM

Black Cat and Other Stories, by Edgar Allen Poe
Pearson English Reader Level 3, Book and Audio CD

The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
Pearson English Reader Level 4, Book

Inventions that Changed the World, David Maule
Pearson English Reader Level 4, Book

Students Entering Advanced MS Academic English

Two of the following abridged titles will be assigned to each student. They will check out these books for the summer. They must be returned in the first week of the fall semester. Unreturned books will be invoiced.

New students should visit the Penguin English Readers website where two books can be chosen and ordered through Pearson or Amazon.

1984, by George Orwell
Pearson English Reader Level 4, Book and Audio CD

Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
Pearson English Reader Level 5, Book and Audio CD

Outstanding Short Stories, Edgar Allen Poe
Pearson English Reader Level 5, Book

Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens
Pearson English Reader Level 6, Book and Audio CD

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
Pearson English Reader Level 6, Book and Audio CD

The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
Pearson English Reader Level 6, Book and Audio CD   

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Mainstream English - Required Summer Reading List

The following lists of books contain titles chosen carefully to supplement classroom reading as well as personal reading that you may not necessarily choose to read on your own. The titles encourage you to expand your reading experience in order to be ready for challenges during the school year and later intellectual life.

Although the required number of titles for English classes is limited, we hope you read more from the “Recommended Titles” section. If you have not read the required books from previous years, we strongly recommend that you do so.

During the first week of class, your English teacher will give a series of writing assignments on the required books on the list. During the following weeks you will be asked to present, discuss, and/or write about your other choice. Your work on these books then becomes a significant part of your first quarter grade.

Most titles are available from Amazon.com or online as e-texts, and most are available in good English language bookstores in major cities. We expect you to read the texts independently and without assistance from SparkNotes or similar student aids.

Students entering Grade 6


  • Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
  • The Giver, Lois Lowry

Other Recommended Titles for Grades 6 and 7:

  • The Treasures of Weatherby, Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  • The Sword and the Stone, T.H. White
  • Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
  • My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell
  • Dicey’s Song, Cynthia Voigt
  • When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead
  • Boy, Roald Dahl
  • Wringer, Jerry Spinelli
Students entering Grade 7


  • Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech
  • The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton

Other Recommended Titles for Grades 6 and 7:

  • Bloomability, Sharon Creech
  • The Sword and the Stone, T.H. White
  • The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis
  • The Sign of the Beaver, Elizabeth Speare
  • Dicey’s Song, Cynthia Voigt
  • Boy, Roald Dahl
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
  • The Westing Game, Ellen Raskin
Students entering Grade 8


  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
  • Mildred Taylor, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry

Other Recommended Titles for Grade 8:

  • J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne
  • The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton
  • Johnny Tremain, Esther Forbes
  • The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
  • The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Arthur Conan Doyle

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Italian Section - Required Summer Reading List

Cari/e studenti/studentesse,

La seguente lista di libri contiene titoli appartenenti ai classici della letteratura per ragazzi, unita a titoli di autori contemporanei. 

Al fine di accompagnarvi nella vostra crescita intellettuale, e, al tempo stesso, rendere meno difficoltoso l’accostarvi alle grandi Opere letterarie, durante i lunghi mesi estivi dovrete leggere i due libri obbligatori indicati. Consigliata, invece, la lettura delle altre due opere.

Nelle prime settimane di scuola, gli insegnanti di Lingua italiana vi proporranno attività scritte e orali relative a quanto letto.

Buona lettura,

Miss Berera

Futura Classe Sesta


  • Orzowei, A. Manzi
  • Kamo, D. Pennac


  • L’invasione degli orsi in Sicilia, D. Buzzati
  • La ricerca del Santo Graal, M. Milani
Futura Classe Settima


  • L’isola in via degli Uccelli, U. Orlev
  • I ragazzi della via Pal, F. Molnàr


  • Ventimila leghe sotto i mari, J. Verne
  • La storia di Enrico VIII e delle sue sei mogli, M. Milani
Futura Classe Ottava


  • Il cavaliere inesistente, I. Calvino
  • Le tigri di Mompracem, E. Salgari


  • Corri ragazzo, corri, U. Orlev
  • Cecilia va alla guerra, L. Levi
Futura Classe Nona


  • Il visconte dimezzato, I. Calvino
  • La tregua ed. Einaudi, P. Levi


  • V. Massimo Manfredi, Lo scudo di Talos, ed. Mondadori
  • V. Massimo Manfredi, Il figlio del sogno, ed. Mondadori

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  • Incredible Art includes a huge range of sources for making, instigating, and understanding art and design. Includes a diverse range of subjects.
  • Art Attack (English website, Italian website)
    Based on the successful BBC program Art Attack, this site has plenty of creative activities, and despite the Disneyesque approach and childish graphics, it also has plenty for older teenagers to occupy themselves. Available in a number of languages.
  • Pinterest teen art project ideas
Books: Techniques and Introductions to Art History
Gallery Visits and Guides For Teenagers

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  • Your Next Read is a book recommendation engine that students can use to find books they might like to read based on books they already enjoy.
  • The International Children's Digital Library is a search engine that focuses on literature from around the world. Great for literature in translation too!
  • Vocabulary.co.il is an English vocabulary-building website with games that help children improve their English vocabulary, including crossword puzzles and “hang mouse.”
  • Learn Out Loud has thousands of downloadable audio files of stories, speeches, interviews, and books—perfect for that student who likes to listen as well as read!
  • Free Rice encourages literacy and charity. For each correct answer about English vocabulary, the website donates 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme.
  • IXL Language Arts (website, app) has hundreds of English Language Arts practice problems to help students brush up on their English language grammar, parts of speech, and sentence structure. Students who attended TASIS in 2015-16 have been provided with an IXL account.

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EAL Summer Enrichment Opportunties

Duolingo.com - Language learning website and mobile app

Rosetta Stone (all returning 6th and 7th grade students have access through a TASIS student account)

Spectrum Language Arts Grade 5
This title is available on Amazon.com website.
An imprint of Carson-Dellosa Publishing
Book: 0087577930053

Students who have not yet studied English should consider purchasing the following book and studying it over the summer:

Basic Grammar in Use Workbook with Answers
Author: William R. Smalzer and  Contributor: Raymond Murphy
Book: 978-0521133302

ESL/EAL MS Summer Academic Programs

English for Academic Purposes
Recommended by the TASIS ­­­­EAL Department

ESL in Surrey, UK
TASIS England Language Program: summer.tasis.com
Email: uksummer@tasis.com

ESL at Oxford University, UK
St. Clare’s College: www.stclares.ac.uk

ESL in Connecticut
Choate Rosemary Hall: www.choate.edu

ESL in New Hampshire
Wolfeboro Camp School: www.wolfeboro.org

ESL in Massachusetts
Northfield Mount Hermon: www.nmhschool.org/summer

ESL in Pennsylvania
Wyoming Seminary: www.wyomingseminary.org
Mercersburg Academy: www.mercersburg.edu

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A Little History of the World, Illustrated Edition, by E.F. Gombrich (Amazon link)

  • Chapters 1-18: Grade 6 curriculum (Prehistory - Fall of Rome)
  • Chapters 18-35: Grade 7 curriculum (after the Fall of Rome - Age of Napoleon)
  • Chapters 35-40: previews Grade 8 content           

Horrible Histories series

Websites for Daily Reading Practice, Listening Comprehension, and Discussion
  • CNN Student News (website, podcast)
    As a complement to reading the news online, students can also subscribe to the podcast. Parents could also listen to the same podcast (preferably together) and facilitate a discussion, which is an opportunity to check for comprehension and ask the child for a reaction/opinion.
  • This Day in History contains 3-minute videos suitable for daily viewing.
  • 60-Second Civics is a daily quiz and podcast that teaches about the US government, Constitution, and history.
  • Go Figure: The Week in Numbers is the BBC’s look back at weekly news stories featuring significant numbers.
Website for History-Themed Games/Exploration               

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Online Resources

Khan Academy (website, app)                   

  • For students entering Math 2 (6th Grade Math)
  • For students entering Math 3 (7th Grade Math)
  • For students entering Math 4 (Pre-Algebra and basic Geometry)

IXL Math (website, app)

Students who attended TASIS in 2017-18 have been provided with an IXL account.
Students should be comfortable with topics leading up to:

  • For students entering Math 2 (6th grade math skills)
  • For students entering Math 3 (7th grade math skills)
  • For students entering Math 4 (7th grade math skills)
  • For students entering Math 5 (8th grade math skills, Algebra 1 skills, Geometry skills)

Books – available for summer review

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Modern Languages

These online resources can be accessed from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.          

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Start a Science Project

You don’t need school in order to do a science project. All a science project requires is a cup of curiosity, a handful of ingenuity, a sprinkle of creativity, and a dash of determination.

One of the best websites out there to support kids interested in doing scientific projects and experiments at home is the award-winning Science Buddies website. Other excellent sites include Steve Spangler’s Fun Science Experiments for Kids, The Naked Scientists’ Kitchen Science Experiments, and a number of projects archived within the Instructables.com website.

Learn to Code

In 2013, the TED Blog ran an article titled “10 places where anyone can learn to code.” Many of the places named within the article are well within the abilities of our tech-savvy middle school students.

Another route to learn about computer coding is to try out Scratch (Adobe Flash Player required), MIT’s programming language and online community where, according to the Scratch website, “Children can program and share interactive media such as stories, games, and animation with people from all over the world.”

Read...And Then Read Some More!

As teachers, we cannot emphasize enough the value of reading, but especially for students for whom English is not their home or native language. We encourage all TASIS Middle School parents to try to find ways to help their son or daughter build a regular habit of reading for pleasure. In Middle School, we feel that it is important for students to select the topics that they enjoy reading, whether science or otherwise. Newspapers, magazines, books, blogs, comic books...we endorse all forms of texts, but an important aspect of summer reading is that Middle School students gradually begin to increase the length of the texts—but also the complexity of the stories—that they are reading for pleasure.

As a place to start, a list of “Outstanding Science Trade Books for K-12 Students” from 1996-2017 has been compiled by the National Science Teacher’s Association (U.S.) and can be found here. For those students interested instead in the latest scientific discoveries, Science News for Students is home to regular news-length articles (but also multimedia content) created with middle school age science students in mind.

One of our MS Science Department’s favorite summer science books to recommend, however, is Keri Smith’s How To Be An Explorer of the World. Smith’s book is the ultimate field guide not only for aspiring young scientists, but also for aspiring young artists! How To Be An Explorer of the World is a creative tour de force that contains no less than 59 one-of-a-kind “explorations” for students to carry out in the everyday world around them.

Start a Parent-Child Book Club

In 2014, American author Mark Kurlansky wrote Frozen in Time: Clarence Birdseye’s Outrageous Idea About Frozen Food. It is a book written especially for middle grade readers (ages 10 and older). However, it is also an adaptation of Kurlansky’s adult book, Birdseye: The Adventures of a Curious Man (2012). Taken together, these two books might be an excellent way for parents and kids to have a genuine Book Club experience in which both readers get to read age appropriate material that is tightly connected by a common theme.

Something similar could be done with one of Kurlansky’s other book sets. Kurlansky’s World Without Fish (2011)—a book written for 10-18 year olds—would be an excellent kid’s companion to either his Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (1998) or perhaps more thematically related, his The Last Fish Tale: The Fate of the Atlantic & Survival in Gloucester, America's Oldest Fishing Port & Most Original Town (2008).

Each of the children’s book recommendations listed above are for readers 10 years and older. Parents looking to a similar type of side-by-side reading experience with children under 10 years old could look into purchasing Kurlansky’s The Story of Salt (2006), which is for readers age 4-8, and pair it with his Salt: A World History (2003). Or, they could buy Kurlansky’s The Cod’s Tale (2001), which is for readers age 7-10, and pair it with his Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World (1998).

Combine Science and Cooking

Think about it: growing, harvesting, processing, preparing, preserving, and consuming food are all activities that are thick in their connections to science. Why not use the creation of certain household meals and/or snacks as an opportunity to learn more about food. Why not use culinary experiences to explore everything from nutrition to digestion, chemistry to biology, preservation to transformation, and origins to destinations?

One of our favorite ways to learn about the science of food and cooking is by watching the American television series Good Eats created and hosted by Alton Brown. The series is now available on Netflix (US version), but it is also available for purchase at Amazon. In many of the episodes, the host takes a unique look at the scientific side of food. Another possibility is to follow best-selling author Mark Kurlansky and his daughter, Talia, as they cook their way together around the world in their 2014 co-authored cookbook, International Night.

Play with Technology

The internet has become a “place” where new inventions, gadgets, and gizmos related to science and technology are both promoted and sold. Here are a few links to some products that the TASIS Middle School Science teachers have found fun to own, play with, and learn from:

  • Raspberry Pi - A tiny and affordable computer that you can use to learn programming through fun, practical projects.
  • Makey Makey & Makey Makey Go - Invention kits fit for 21st century explorers.
  • Arduino - An open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software.
  • Circuit Scribe - A rollerball pen that writes with conductive silver ink.
  • Drawdio - A pencil that lets you draw music.
  • Ozobot - A programmable, “smart” toy robot.
  • 𝝻Peek - A credit card sized microscope that connects wirelessly to your smartphone
Encourage Learning

We sometimes forget that science learning can happen almost anywhere and at any time. When your kids seem as though they’re in need of something to do, here are some things you might suggest to them:

  • read a book or magazine about science or technology
  • surf the web for information about a scientific or technological topic
  • ask a friend or a scientific or technology expert to explain something tinker with things and try to figure them out
  • get a group of people together to find an answer or make something happen
  • watch other people doing something scientific and try it for yourself
  • explore a new territory, alone or in company
  • talk to people
  • write and make diagrams, drawings, movies, music, multimedia
  • invent new things or ideas of your own
  • compare different ideas and experiences
  • keep a scientific notebook or journal in which you routinely ask questions such as why?, how?, and how else?
  • ...all of the above, in various different combinations.

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  • Students can use their TASIS email account to log into typing.com to improve their typing speed and accuracy. We use the “5 × grade level with 95% accuracy” guideline to determine how fast a student should be typing. For example, a 5th grade student should be typing 5 × 5 = 25 words per minute and an 8th grade student should be typing 5 × 8 = 40 words per minute with 95% accuracy. Practicing for 10 minutes a day can produce dramatic improvements!
  • See the Computer Coding and Play with Technology sections above for computer programming and making resources.
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