At Give Back, our goal is to provide students with the skills they need to be ready for college, career, and success in life, so we developed a summer reading program to encourage students to keep their brains engaged while taking a break from classes.

Tfile-2his summer, Give Back in Illinois and New York hosted summer book clubs for scholars to come together to discuss Sherman Alexie’s funny and complex book about growing up, loving basketball, and being a member of multiple communities. Junior decides to transfer from his high school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend the nearby, more academically competitive, but mostly white high school. How Junior navigates his friendships, his feelings of belonging and responsibility, and his desire to win the regional basketball title are told both through Alexie’s evocative language and Ellen Forney’s hilarious cartoons.

Students were asked not only to read, but to respond with their own writing to the book. Scholars could write a character journal, create a soundtrack for the book, or make a photo journal, writing captions that narrated the connection between their visual ideas and the major themes of the book.

fullsizerender-4In New York, students met on campus at Queens College (QC), where a QC English professor and an upper-level English major led a group discussion over pizza from a local favorite of Queens’ students, Gino’s. After book club, scholars and Give Back staff headed over to the Mets game to watch the Atlanta Braves just squeak by New York in the 9th inning! We were given amazing third base line tickets, courtesy of the New York Mets community outreach program.

Thank you to all students and mentors who participated this summer. If you have suggestions for next year’s book, let us know!