Schoolwide Summer Reading Assignment 2019

Grades 6-12

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the benefits of being an octopus 9781510737488 hr

Written by local author Ann Braden, The Benefits of Being an Octopus is a book with important lessons for all of us, young and not so young. Our hope is that sharing the experience of this story will bring all of us together and help strengthen the bonds within our Leland and Gray community.

We have designed specific assignments for students in middle school (grades 6-8) and students in high school (grades 9-12). Please find your reading and writing assignments on the reverse and come to school in August with your work completed. During the first few weeks of school, Ann Braden will join us to talk about her book, a visit that promises to be exciting and enriching!

 Essential Questions1

  • When we make assumptions about other people, what do we base them on? How do those assumptions shape our interactions? How do those assumptions affect other people?
  • How are people’s lives affected when they have to struggle to make ends meet?
  • When it comes to controversial issues, what role does debate play? How does it help? How does it hurt? What alternatives to debate exist?
  • What cultural divides exist in communities? How might it be possible to bridge those divides?
  • What happens when a person who has felt misunderstood and alone finally feels seen and valued?

Some Basic Definitions

Assumption: when you make a decision about something without fully understanding it.

Controversial: when people have strong opinions about a topic and it’s easy to get into arguments about it.

Debate: when people point out the strength of one side of an issue and the weaknesses of the other.

Cultural Divide: when there are groups of people that live differently from each other or believe different things and don’t really understand the others.

1Braden, A. (n.d.). The Benefits of Being an Octopus: An Educator’s Guide. Retrieved from



Summer 2019

Middle School

  1.  BEFORE YOU READ: Answer these pre-reading questions in writing:
    1.  Examine the cover of The Benefits of Being an Octopus. What predictions can you make about the main character in the story?
    2.  What do you think some of the benefits of being an octopus could be?
  2.  Read The Benefits of Being an Octopus.


AFTER YOU READ: Choose and answer one essential question (see above). Please use examples from the text in your response.

High School

  1.  Read The Benefits of Being an Octopus.

  2.  Read the New Yorker article “How People Learn to Become Resilient” by Maria Konnikova.

  3.  Answer two of the essential questions (see reverse) thoroughly, using examples from the text.

  4.  Apply the ideas contained in “How People Learn to Become Resilient” to the book by answering the following questions thoroughly, using examples from the texts:
    1.  How does Zoey demonstrate resilience by the end of the book (as opposed to the beginning of the book?)
    2. What key traits of resiliency, as reported by Konnikova, do we see in her character?

Your responses are due the first week of school. We look forward to seeing you then!



Please contact:

Ms. Doty at

Ms. Rowan at

Ms. Matson at

Click here for a PDF copy