For the past two years, a major component of Aim High’s summer program has been Book Club. Book Club was created to engage our middle school students in literacy learning through our virtual program, which was designed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Twice each week, students met with their Book Club teachers to read and discuss a wide variety of short stories, predominantly Young Adult stories written by BIPOC authors or featuring characters who identify as BIPOC. Students responded to the works through a variety of activities, which included art, design, reflection boards and journal writing. We know that when students see themselves and their experiences mirrored in those of the authors and characters they are reading about, students become more engaged. During the pandemic, we were faced with the challenge and the opportunity to highlight the connections between us all and to lift student voices and experiences. So the driving force for our Book Club these past two summers was student engagement, representation and centering students’ humanity. With this in mind, we intentionally chose culturally-relevant short stories written by contemporary authors specifically for young adults. This past summer, Aim High middle school students read stories written by Jason Reynolds, Rita Williams-Garcia, Daniel Jose Older and Ellen Oh, just to name a few. Aim High’s approach to teaching literacy focuses not on students reading levels but on assigning age-appropriate texts and scaffolding students’ access to the different texts. Our goal is for students to be challenged and supported both academically and socio-emotionally, so that they end their summer at Aim High feeling more confident in their literacy skills than when they began the program. Ultimately, we want students to find joy in reading and spark and kindle the desire to be lifelong readers and learners. If you are curious about how students engaged with the texts, take a look at some of the work students created in their Book Clubs. Students created antiracist art inspired by some of the stories. Students were tasked with creating a visual representation “a sandwich” that represents the relationships they have and cherish. Each ingredient represents a quality or characteristic they find important in their relationships. i.e. mayo makes the breadstick to the cheese, just like friends stick together.