8th Grade Read - I Will Always Write Back

August 2019

Dear East Junior High 8th Grade Parent/Guardian:

I want to take this opportunity to provide you with information about our schoolwide read this fall and encourage you to read along with your 8th-grade child. 

To develop critical reading skills among our students, our eighth grade students will participate in a schoolwide read during Reading Time. Reading Time is 19 minutes embedded into our school day dedicated to reading improvement.  

Students generally have free choice of reading material, but this fall we decided to try something different. Creating a schoolwide read will allow students and teachers the opportunity to not only read the same book, but also create meaningful student engagement in learning by encouraging in-depth discussions about the book. 

The book students will be reading is titled “I Will Always Write Back” by Caitlin Alifirenka & Marin Ganda. This New York Times bestselling book is a true story about two teenage students who become pen pals as the result of a school project. It’s a great humanitarian story and I encourage you to read along. 

The book is full of kindness and gratitude and provides the reader with examples about how others live outside the United States. The dialog between the two main characters reflects what it's like to be a teenager in their two communities. The story offers lessons to our students that are hard to replicate in a classroom and provide you with opportunities to discuss your values with your child.   

Specifically, I want to draw to your attention two sections of the book, which address two topics that offer an opportunity for you to have an important conversation with your child. On pages 205-209, the female character encounters a situation involving older boys and a party. On pages 252-253, the female character enters the home of a friend and witnesses the use of marijuana. She does not participate or engage in the use of marijuana, which is prohibited in her home.

We recognize the sensitive nature of the topics of underage drinking and marijuana, both of which are prohibited, per District policy. I encourage you as parents to use this opportunity to talk with your child about their feelings and how that relates to your family values. We feel it is best for parents to address these issues and equip students with a plan before they are exposed to a similar situation where they may experience peer pressure.  


Following are ways that you, as a parent, can help your child engage in this opportunity for interpersonal growth

1.  Read the book and discuss the situation with your child.  

2.  Ask your child to skip reading the aforementioned sections. 

3.  The child has the option to choose the traditional path and pick an independent book.  

If you choose option #3, please email me prior to August 28th (date of book distribution). This will ensure that we do not check out a book to your child and that your child has time to select a different book.  Also, if you do choose option #3, please have a conversation with your child so they know why they’re not receiving one of the schoolwide read books.   

We value the relationship between parents and their children and feel you are the best source to have these critical discussions. Thank you for understanding and for your attention to this matter. 


David Greene


East Junior High School