Stack old books on wood table at beach
Reading is a basic tool in the living of a good life. – Mortimer J. Adler

St. Alphonsus middle school students are required to read one classic work and one all-school book over the summer each year. This year’s reading assignments are included below together with study guides for each book. The study guide questions are designed to help guide the students’ reading comprehension. All students are expected to have carefully read their assigned books for discussion and assignments in their ELA class during the first week of school.

Imagining himself a storybook wandering knight, Don Quixote sets forth with his commonsense companion, Sancho Panza, who takes the role of the knight’s loyal squire. Since its first publication in 1605, Don Quixote has been translated into more languages than any book ever written, except the Bible. Abridged for young readers, the Core Classics edition is faithful to the style, plot, and themes of the original work.

Download the Study Guide

One of Shakespeare’s last plays, The Tempest mixes the fantasy of fairy tales—magic, monsters, and spirits—with real human drama in a tale of revenge and forgiveness, cruelty and mercy, loss and reunion. This Core Classics volume presents a shortened version of Shakespeare’s play, with background information about Shakespeare and the Globe theater, as well as point-of-use definitions of challenging vocabulary on facing pages and helpful notes.

Download the Study Guide

All Middle School | Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World (Admiral William H. McRaven), ISBN 978-1455570249

If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. On May 17, 2014, Admiral William H. McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas at Austin on their Commencement day. Taking inspiration from the university’s slogan, “What starts here changes the world,” he shared the ten principles he learned during Navy Seal training that helped him overcome challenges not only in his training and long Naval career, but also throughout his life; and he explained how anyone can use these basic lessons to change themselves-and the world-for the better.

Assignment: After reading the book, write two (2) neat, single-spaced, handwritten pages that address the following:

  • Explain which 1-2 lessons from the book you connected with most. Provide one quote from the text that shows why the lesson(s) is important. How can you integrate (live out) the lesson(s) into your own life? (approx. 1 page)
  • Create a “rule/lesson” for your own life. What specific actions must you take to adhere to this rule/lesson? How will it make you a more virtuous person? (approx. 1 page)

Core Classics Summer Camp

Summer Camp (optional): Class reading and discussion of the novel with art enrichment in the afternoon. Register online: