Opening Minds, Bridging Differences, Living Jewish Values.

Grade 9

Social Studies Summer Reading Guide

Required reading:

Laurie Halse Anderson, Chains, Atheneum: 2008. (Available in paperback from Amazon or Barnes and Noble)

Set during the early months of the American Revolution, the historical novel Chains focuses on a generally overlooked aspect of that period – the situation of enslaved people in New England and New York. Through the story of Isabel, an enslaved girl, the author explores the tense politics pitting Loyalists against Patriots and the difficult calculations enslaved people had to make about where to cast their own loyalties.

Both slavery and revolutions are major themes of our ninth grade studies.

Tasks as you read. Bring book and your work to your first social studies class.

A.Highlight scenes and sentences that relate to the issues below. Use different colored pens for your highlighting. For example, you could color lines relating to #1 in green and lines relating to #2 in yellow.

Make a bulletpoint list of your findings to help you discuss these issues in class.

1.Tensions over favoring the British or the colonists

a.Reasons people chose to side with one or the other

b.Why some people felt that they had to pretend to favor one of the sides.

2.How white people on both sides of the political conflict regarded and treated slaves.

B. Think about this question and be prepared to discuss it in class:

In chapter XXIX, p.182, Isabel said she felt “chained between two nations”. What did she mean?

C. Each chapter begins with a short excerpt from a primary source that relates in some way to the contents of the chapter.

Choose three quotations that particularly appeal to you, whether because of the specific points they make, the wording, the way they connect to the chapters. For each one, answer the questions on the next page.

Quotation #1

  • Quotation –Provide chapter and page numbers only:
  • Author - Give the name AND information about who s/he was, his or her position etc. Research online to answer this question. Give the URL of your source of information; you may use Wikipedia.
  • Date of the quotation – Find online.
  • Nature of the source (letter, speech, newspaper article etc.)
  • Audience (Who would the author have expected to read these words?)
  • Explain content of quote in your own words in 2-4 full sentences.
  • How does this quotation relate to the content of the chapter? Explain in 2-4 full sentences.

Quotation #2

  • Quotation –Provide chapter and page numbers only:
  • Author - Give the name AND information about who s/he was, his or her position etc. Research online to answer this question. Give the URL of your source of information; you may use Wikipedia.
  • Date of the quotation – Find online.
  • Nature of the source (letter, speech, newspaper article etc.)
  • Audience (Who would the author have expected to read these words?)
  • Explain content of quote in your own words in 2-4 full sentences.
  • How does this quotation relate to the content of the chapter? Explain in 2-4 full sentences.

Quotation #3

  • Quotation –Provide chapter and page numbers only:
  • Author - Give the name AND information about who s/he was, his or her position etc. Research online to answer this question. Give the URL of your source of information; you may use Wikipedia.
  • Date of the quotation – Find online.
  • Nature of the source (letter, speech, newspaper article etc.)
  • Audience (Who would the author have expected to read these words?)
  • Explain content of quote in your own words in 2-4 full sentences.
  • How does this quotation relate to the content of the chapter? Explain in 2-4 full sentences.

Grade 10

Social studies summer reading for rising Tenth grade

Uncle Tom’s Cabin


Please read the Dover Thrift paperback edition, easily available from Amazon or directly from Dover Publications.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a 40-week serial that appeared in the abolitionist periodical The National Era in 1851. The following year the entire story was published in book form and became the best selling novel of nineteenth century America.

The narrative takes place after passage of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which made it a criminal act for ordinary citizens not to return run-away slaves. It describes the lives of African-American slaves and their treatment by different White people. The story is fictional, but Stowe claimed that actual slave narratives inspired her to write it.

Your assignment is to read the book carefully and to pay close attention to the way Stowe portrays the main characters.

-Which characters are portrayed as good and which as evil?

-Can some characters be described as a mix of good and bad?

-Do some characters change significantly over the course of the story? Who and how?

-Why do you think that the book is called Uncle Tom’s Cabin?

In addition, Stowe makes many direct appeals to her Christian readers, drawing on their shared religious beliefs. Mark these passages as you read, or make a list of all the relevant pages.

Your class will discuss this summer reading soon after you return to school; you will be writing your first paper of the year on a topic relating to Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Grade 11

Social Studies Summer Reading: All Quiet on the Western Front

Your summer reading will connect this past year’s study of the Great War to the world that emerged after the armistice of November 1918, which is where we will pick up our story in September.

Erich Maria Remarque was born in 1898 to working-class parents in Osnabrück, a city in the northwest of Germany. Drafted into the army in 1916, he saw action in Belgium and suffered shrapnel wounds serious enough to keep him in a military hospital for over a year. That experience inspired much of All Quiet on the Western Front, which was first published in 1929 and quickly became the most popular and critically acclaimed literary treatment of the war.

So that we can refer to common page numbers, please purchase the Ballantine Books paperback edition.

As you read, consider the following questions. Take notes on the text and highlight relevant passages. This work will help you to prepare for class discussions and the first writing assignment of the academic year.

Study Questions

How do Paul Bäumer and his schoolmates come to enlist in the army? Who is Kantorek? How do he and others like him “let us all down so badly,” according to Bäumer?

Kemmerich’s boots introduce readers to the nature of life at or near the front. What do they, and various characters’ attitudes toward them, reveal?

What are the most tedious, humiliating, and apparently pointless elements of training? According to the narrator, how do they actually encourage the esprit de corps essential for soldiers’ sanity and effectiveness at the front?

Remarque devotes considerable attention to the physicality of the soldier’s life, particularly eating and drinking, and then, for lack of a more delicate way of putting it, expelling the byproducts. Why does he do so? In what scenes is this focus critical to the larger objectives of the novel?

What is the most horrifying image, sound, smell, or texture of the front that Remarque leaves with readers?

Bäumer’s leave is an unsettling, disjointed, alienating, and at times infuriating experience—hardly a respite from the front, to which he is almost eager to return. Why is it so? With whom among his family and old friends is he able to establish some connection?

Historians have shown that modern wars tend to narrow distances between social classes, and sometimes even overturn hierarchies of age, race, and gender. It was during World War I, for example, that women made the critical gains in Britain and the United States that resulted in their right to vote. How does Remarque show this dynamic in his novel?

In the final chapters Bäumer recognizes that Germany has no prospect of winning the war. How, specifically, does he believe that the Allies have brought his country to the verge of defeat?

The Nazis attacked All Quiet on the Western Front with a ferocity that would be almost comical if not for the dark history that followed. For instance, Nazi Party members tried to sabotage a Berlin theater’s premiere of the 1930 American film adaptation with stink bombs and sneezing powder. Why would the Nazis—who glorified the military, exalted the state over the individual, and rode to power on the popular belief that Germany had not lost the Great War on the battlefield, but had been “stabbed in the back” by communists, Jews, liberals and others back home—find Remarque’s work so subversive?

11T w/Lisa Cohen

Social Studies Summer Reading for Social Studies 11T with Lisa Cohen

Nickel and Dimed By Barbara Ehrenreich

I believe in America because we have great dreams - and because we have the opportunity to make those dreams come true. ~Wendell L. Wilkie

Being a “land of opportunity” is central to America’s image. Yet approximately 15% of the American population lives below the official poverty line, and the gap between rich and poor continues to grow. In 1998-2000, journalist Barbara Ehrenreich went undercover to explore the experiences of the “working poor”. Her goal was to try to understand the limits and obstacles people face in trying to climb the ladder of opportunity.

This summer you will read Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich’s story about her experiences working as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart associate.

Required Reading: Barbara Ehrenreich, Nickel and Dimed (NY: Henry Holt and Co., 2011)

Before you start reading the book, READ THE SIX QUESTIONS on the next page.

As you read, use color-coded post-its to mark lines that relate to each of the questions below. Think about the questions and note down your thoughts on the post-its or in a document.

We will discuss your thoughts about these questions in the fall, so you will need to be able to locate the relevant passages. You will then write a paper involving some of these issues.

1. Early in the book, Ehrenreich uses the term “wage slave.” What does she mean by this?

2. Ehrenreich suggests many causes of the poverty she observes. Mark the different causes that you encounter in the book.

3. Ehrenreich takes several jobs in the course of her research. Which one does she find the most difficult? The most rewarding? The most degrading? In each case, why?

4. The poor in America sometimes actually pay more for goods than people who are better off do. For example, a financially struggling family may have to rely on food from convenience stores and fast food restaurants because they do not have a car to get to a more distant supermarket.

Mark at least two specific times that Ehrenreich sees or experiences this problem herself.

5. At the beginning of her “Evaluation” chapter, the author explains her new understanding of the phrase “unskilled labor.” What is her new understanding of that term?

6. Throughout Nickel and Dimed the author complains about “management.” Mark the many problems that Ehrenreich has with managers.

Enjoy your reading, and have a wonderful summer!