Marks Education’s Summer Reading & Writing Intensive Program

Looking to improve your critical reading and writing skills?

As students move through middle and high school, they are asked to navigate a diverse and challenging range of texts. Continued academic success increasingly depends on the ability to read, comprehend, and write about a broad array of material. However, with the pressure of regular academic assignments and deadlines, it can be difficult to focus on building these skills during the school year.

The Marks Education Summer Reading-Writing Intensive is a one-on-one tutorial program focused on developing students’ ability to read, understand, and analyze challenging texts and to develop rhetorical and analytical writing skills. Instructors are engaging and will show students how reading challenging texts can be a fun process of discovery.

There are three levels of the course based upon student ability. For each level, texts can be chosen from those listed below or can be customized to meet a student’s needs or interests. For example, if a student would like to read an assigned text for school, the tutor will work to incorporate that text into the reading program.

Over the course of 12 50-minute interactive, discussion-based tutoring sessions, students will progress to reading gradually more challenging texts. Students are expected to set aside 4-6 hours of focused reading, annotating, reading comprehension, and writing homework every week in addition to the tutoring sessions. After reading each text, students will be asked to complete a short analytical or expository writing assignment which will be graded.

We recommend that the 12 sessions be completed over six weeks. However, because all work is one-on-one, sessions can be scheduled per student and tutor availability. Sessions must be completed by August 25, 2020.

The Reading-Writing Intensive is open to students entering 7th grade and above. We ask that each student submit a writing sample prior to the commencement of the program so that we can assess his or her needs. Tutors offer a free 30-minute initial consult during which they will discuss program expectations and student needs.

Reading and Writing Program Goals:

  • To learn to read critically, paying attention to gradually more challenging diction and syntax
  • To understand the use of figurative elements, as well as conventions of grammar, punctuation, syntax, and semantics
  • To understand the importance of a writer’s purpose, and how it varies, when communicating with different audiences
  • To develop the ability to structure analytical essays appropriate for different rhetorical situations and communicate meaning with clarity and fluency
  • To evaluate and synthesize appropriate evidence in order to build and support effective analyses and arguments


Level One:


  • Selected news, feature, and editorial pieces from The Washington Post and The New York Times

Short Stories:

  • E.M. Forster, “The Machine Stops”
  • Guy de Maupassant, “The Necklace”
  • Kurt Vonnegut, “Harrison Bergeron”
  • Ray Bradbury, “All Summer in a Day”
  • Toni Cade Bambara, “Raymond’s Run”

*Other short stories may be included at the discretion of the tutor you are working with.


  • William Golding, Lord of the Flies
  • George Orwell, Animal Farm
  • Sandra Cisneros, The House on Mango Street
  • Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Level Two:

Essays (20th to 21st century)

Shorter essays

  • Toni Morrison, “Strangers”
  • William Faulkner, “Banquet Speech”
  • Virginia Woolf, “Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid”
  • Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, “Decolonizing the Mind”
  • Michael Chabon, “Kids’ Stuff”
  • Walter Kirn, “Lost in the Meritocracy”
  • Zadie Smith, “Generation Why?”
  • A recent Pulitzer Prize Winning Series on Climate Change from The Washington Post. It has a total of ten articles that can be used selectively.
  • The New York Times Philosophy column The Stone. The column incudes essays on contemporary topics.

Longer essays

  • Virginia Woolf, “In Search of a Room of One’s Own”
  • George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language”
  • James Baldwin, selections from The Fire Next Time


  • Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, The Interpreter of Maladies
  • Octavia Butler, Kindred
  • Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried

Level Three:
Level 3 essays (18th-19th century)

Short essays

  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton, “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions”
  • Frederick Douglass, selections from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Longer essays

  • Frederick Douglass, “What to a Slave is the Fourth of July?”
  • Henry David Thoreau, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For” and other selections from Walden
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nature”
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, selections from A Vindication of the Rights of Women
  • W.E.B. Du Bois, selections from The Souls of Black Folk


  • George Elliot, Silas Marner
  • William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom!
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables
  • Herman Melville, Bartleby the Scrivener
  • Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
  • Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth or The Age of Innocence
  • Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

Cost: $2400 per student.

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