Photo by Rilee Silvain ’20

On Friday, Aug. 23, students gathered in the Performing Arts Center for their annual summer read book talks. Class by class, students conversed with the author or a speaker who was familiar with the book they read this summer.

“With this program, we really want to encourage the simple love of reading, the love of getting caught up in a really good story,” Ms. Susie Sisson, chair of the Marian English Department, said. “So much of what we read in class is all for academic purposes, we like to give students a chance once a year to just read something and enjoy it.”

Freshmen met Monica Hesse, author of their summer book “Girl in the Blue Coat” via Skype video chat. Sophomores spoke via Skype to Kate Alice Marshall, author of their assigned read “I Am Still Alive.”  Juniors discussed their summer read “Far From the Tree” with author Robin Benway via Skype. UNO English Professor David Peterson spoke to the senior class to discuss their book “Where the Crawdads Sing.”

On the surface, the four stories the classes read could seem quite different from one another. Sisson said, though, the books were chosen by the English Department because they all exemplified one theme.

“This year we decided to pick books that had to do with courage. We found ourselves seeking out stories of characters who had to show courage in the face of adversity,” Sisson said.

After meeting with their speaker, each class then moved to the West Gym to share snacks and thoughts about their books with one another.

“One of the greatest joys of reading a book is finding other people who have read the same book. We’re trying to build that sense of belonging,” Sisson said.