The AR List, Summer Reading Lists, and the Library

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By Jimmie Epling
Darlington County Library System

School children and parents do not fret about finding something on “the list” or “the AR list” this summer. The Darlington County Library System has your back! Once again, we are prepared to help those on a quest to complete their summer reading assignment.

Just as in years past, the Library’s staff set about gathering school reading lists because we know students and their parents will turn to us to find something on “the list.” We have compiled the lists for Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar, Mayo, and Emmanuel Christian schools all in one place for you. By going to our website at, you will find a link to all the reading lists. If you lose “the list” or do not want to hunt for the summer reading list on the webpage of your child’s school, we have it all in one place for you.

This year, Hartsville High is going with the “One Book, One School” concept by requiring students to read “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, the story of a community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance of a boy with a facial difference. The Library has ordered an additional 50 copies of the book to meet the expected demand. We are also prepared to order more and get them quickly into the hands of students. In addition to this book, we have the English honors lists and more.

The educators at Darlington High have settled on “Bad Boy: A Memoir” by Walter Dean Myers and “Swallowing Stones” by Joyce McDonald. For the English II CP, III CP, and IV CP Students, there are three choices: “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson, and “Marcelo in the Real World” by Francesco Stork. We have them for you!

At Mayo High School for Math, Science and Technology, the English Department previewed its list choices for content, language, and situations and deemed them appropriate for teens. There are some familiar standards on the lists: “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë, “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austin, “The Sun Also Rises” by Ernest Hemingway, “The Mayor of Casterbridge” by Thomas Hardy, and “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver.
Lamar High’s list this year, as it was last year, is the South Carolina Book Award nominees for young adult books. Our webpage link will take you to the list of the twenty nominees and their descriptions. We not only have print copies, we have some of them in an e-book version for those who want to read it on a tablet or smartphone!

Our goal is you leave the Library with a book from your list in hand! A warning to all you procrastinators! If you wait until the last week to visit the Library to find a book on your list, you may be disappointed. We have as many as 40 to 50 copies of some books, but remember all the copies of the one you really want may be checked out. A suggestion… when you visit the Library nearest you for a book from your list, come with a second and third choice in mind as well.

The Library’s staff has worked hard to be prepared for the horde of eager students looking to take their Accelerated Reading testing at the Library. This year the Darlington County School’s AR program is using our summer reading program theme, “On Your Mark, Get Set…READ!” for its summer reading program. We are ready for you! Once again students have the opportunity to take their Accelerated Reader (AR) tests at any of our four locations, Darlington, Hartsville, Lamar, and Society Hill.

If you don’t have a child in school, then you may not know what AR program testing is. The AR testing program is a computerized online system that tests for reading comprehension. Students can select from over 150,000 titles for a book on their reading level, read it, and then take an independent comprehension test through a computer linked to the Internet. Each book is worth a certain number of points based on its length and reading level. The program tracks a child’s progress. The school system is requiring those who choose to participate to earn a set number of AR points to qualify for prizes and be invited to a “Back to School Bash.” Those in Kindergarten K – 2nd grade are to read books worth a total of 3 AR points. Third through fifth grade students must accumulate 6 AR points. The goal for students in grades 6th through 8th is 9 AR points.

The staff of the Library has identified and added to our collection books with AR quizzes over the past year through special purchases. Last year, the Library received a generous grant from Sonoco’s foundation to purchase AR books. This year, the Library set aside funds to purchase several hundred AR books. We have made it easy to find AR books by going to our website at Parents and students will find a link to the “AR BookFinder” site where you can search for books based on authors, topics, or titles. Also, there is a link to the instructions for students who want to take their Accelerated Reader tests at the Library. Each location of the Library will have two to three computers set aside for students to access the AR quiz site with login information provided by the schools.

When your young scholar is ready (maybe with a bit of parental prodding from you) to take on that summer reading assignment, the Darlington County Library System is ready to help. We have the books. We have the reading lists. We have the AR testing.

And by the way, register your child for the Library’s summer reading program as everything read counts towards cool prizes in our summer reading program too!

Author: Jana Pye

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