Tag: summer reading

Family Fun at The Avenue at White Marsh Tomorrow!

Join THE AVENUE at White Marsh 10am – noon for a morning filled with fun activities geared toward children 5 and under – including crafts, giveaways for children in attendance.*crafts and giveaways available while supplies last.Then stick around for lunch and take advantage of special lunch time meal deals!
Kids eat FREE with Adult Entrée purchase at:
Chili’s, Della Rose’s Avenue Tavern, Red Brick Station & Tilted Kilt!
Or, get a FREE slice of cheese pizza for your child with your Adult order at SLICE Pizzeria!

What Schools’ Summer Reading Picks Reveal



Last year, I wrote that colleges’ summer reading picks for incoming freshmen could be seen as “a litmus test for how a school sees itself.” Intellectual? Cutting-edge? Not too difficult? There’s a book that fits that description! This year, Baltimore Fishbowl continues that tradition of overanalyzing freshman required reading from local universities:

Baltimore Colleges’ Summer Reading Picks Reveal More Than They Think


I still remember the book all the incoming freshmen had to read at my college (it was Octavia Butler’s Kindred — in retrospect, a sign that my college was going to be pretty cool). The idea for these programs is to give students a common intellectual touchstone to chat about in classes, or while waiting in line at the cafeteria. But freshman reading can also be a litmus test for how a school sees itself. Do they prefer the hard-hitting to the feel-good? Are they nervous about assigning students anything that looks too much like work? Our analysis of local universities’ summer reading picks — and what they say about the universities themselves — is below:

The Reader’s Guide to Life, Starting with a Parade, Ending with a Funeral


University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik comes to understand why she’s addicted to reading fiction — her motivation may surprise you.

On the sidewalk of St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans sat a girl in a low folding beach chair. Dragged by her mother to the Mardi Gras parade, she insisted on bringing her book. No matter how people teased or tried to distract her, she calmly read the whole time, even as glittery throws and oversized go-cups landed in her lap.

Rising Sixth Grade Required Summer Reading


For rising sixth graders, the last two weeks of summer are both exciting and dreadful; each fleeting day marks a notch in the countdown to school.  On the one hand, thoughts of mixers and sports teams evoke happy anticipation. Procrastinated summer reading, on the other hand, does not.  These days, schools allow students to pick most of their summer reading books but require one or two titles by read by all students. Below is a list of the required books Baltimore’s eleven and twelve year olds have been neglecting:

Bryn Mawr School 

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, & servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life and her own depend on it.

Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. 

Red-haired Anne, with a temperament to match, knows from her first moment at Green Gables that she wants to stay and not be sent back to the orphanage.  It’s difficult for this spirited girl to hold her tongue and be the girl the Cuthberts want her to be.  Anne’s imagination and engaging ways soon charm all whom she meets. 

Gilman School

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman

A vacant lot, rat-infested and filled with garbage, looked like no place for a garden. Especially to a neighborhood of strangers where no one seems to care. Until one day, a young girl clears a small space and digs into the hard-packed soil to plant her precious bean seeds. Suddenly, the soil holds promise: To Curtis, who believes he can win back Lateesha’s heart with a harvest of tomatoes; to Virgil’s dad, who sees a fortune to be made from growing lettuce; and even to Maricela, sixteen and pregnant, wishing she were dead. Thirteen very different voices — old, young, Haitian, Hispanic, tough, haunted, and hopeful — tell one amazing story about a garden that transforms a neighborhood.

Roland Park Country School

The Hive Detectives: Chronicle of a Honey Bee Catastrophe by Loree Griffin Burns

Without honey bees the world would be a different place. There would be no honey, no beeswax for candles, and, worst of all, barely a fruit, nut, or vegetable to eat. So imagine beekeeper Dave Hackenburg’s horror when he discovered twenty million of his charges had vanished. Those missing bees became the first casualties of a mysterious scourge that continues to plague honey bee populations today. In The Hive Detectives, Loree Griffin Burns profiles bee wranglers and bee scientists who have been working to understand colony collapse disorder, or CCD. In this dramatic and enlightening story, readers explore the lives of the fuzzy, buzzy insects and learn what might happen to us if they were gone.

Boys’ Latin

The Cay by Theodore Taylor

Phillip is excited when the Germans invade the small island of Curaçao. War has always been a game to him, and he’s eager to glimpse it firsthand–until the freighter he and his mother are traveling to the United States on is torpedoed.

When Phillip comes to, he is on a small raft in the middle of the sea. Besides Stew Cat, his only companion is an old West Indian, Timothy. Phillip remembers his mother’s warning about black people: “They are different, and they live differently.”

But by the time the castaways arrive on a small island, Phillip’s head injury has made him blind and dependent on Timothy. 

Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Berlin 1942

When Bruno returns home from school one day, he discovers that his belongings are being packed in crates. His father has received a promotion and the family must move from their home to a new house far far away, where there is no one to play with and nothing to do. A tall fence running alongside stretches as far as the eye can see and cuts him off from the strange people he can see in the distance.

But Bruno longs to be an explorer and decides that there must be more to this desolate new place than meets the eye. While exploring his new environment, he meets another boy whose life and circumstances are very different to his own, and their meeting results in a friendship that has devastating consequences.


People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

The People of Sparks picks up where The City of Ember leaves off. Lina and Doon have emerged from the underground city to the exciting new world above, and it isn’t long before they are followed by the other inhabitants of Ember. The Emberites soon come across a town where they are welcomed, fed, and given places to sleep. But the town’s resources are limited and it isn’t long before resentment begins to grow between the two groups. When anonymous acts of vandalism push them toward violence, it’s up to Lina and Doon to discover who’s behind the vandalism and why, before it’s too late.


Note to sixth graders:  Reading the one paragraph synopses above does not count as reading the book. The Eds.

Summer Reading: Local Schools’ Picks


It’s just about that time of year when the peaches are juiciest, and when students remember how they’ve completely neglected their summer reading. Once the exclusive provenance of high school students, colleges have increasingly been asking incoming freshmen to have read the same book before they show up for orientation. Below, the tomes being toted around by future freshmen at Baltimore area universities and colleges:

Johns Hopkins –  Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
Kidder’s great at telling stories of global strife and public health emergencies — and then somehow winding up with a semi-optimistic conclusion. As the school tells its incoming students, “You are about to embark on a wonderful journey not only at Johns Hopkins University but in the city of Baltimore. It is our hope you will make every effort to become an active member of both of these communities.” A sign of the university’s attempts to pop the infamous “Hopkins bubble”?

St. Johns (Annapolis) – The Iliad, by Homer
This is a school that likes to start at the beginning — they teach math by reading Archimedes. So this pick is pretty obvious. Come on, St. Johns, shake things up!

Goucher – The Other Wes Moore, by Wes Moore
A surprise bestseller set in Baltimore:  “The Other Wes Moore is the story of two kids with the same name, both liv­ing in Baltimore. One grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, dec­o­rated com­bat vet­eran, White House Fel­low, and busi­ness leader. The other is serv­ing a life sen­tence in prison for felony mur­der.”

UMBC – Outcasts United, Warren St. John
Another tale of hardship with a heartwarming ending – this time, it’s a soccer team of UNHCR refugees in a small town outside Atlanta. Per the book selection committee, “[the story] supports the value of both education and recreational sports.”