Summer Reading Program

Summer Reading Program

***Updated information for the 2019 Summer Reading Program will be posted during Spring 2019.***

Illinois Wesleyan University’s Summer Reading Program is designed as an opportunity for incoming students to participate in a shared intellectual conversation about a common text with their Gateway Colloquium classmates and the University community (faculty, staff, alumni and student leaders) during Turning Titan: New Student Orientation

Becoming Nicole Book Cover2018 Book Selection 

Becoming Nicole: 
The Transformation of an American Family
Amy Ellis Nutt

In response to IWU's 2018-19 intellectual theme of Changing Climates and the University’s commitment to diversity and social justice, the Advising and Summer Reading Committee, in consultation with the University's Speakers Committee, selected Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt for the 2018 Summer Reading Program.

The theme of Changing Climates asks us to examine a variety of the diverse climates we live in - racial and ethnic, religious, political, and economic climates.  It also connotes the changing social and cultural climates that challenge all of us to understand that as humans, we share as many differences as we do commonalities.   Becoming Nicole confronts our commonly-shared beliefs regarding gender identity, family, our education system, the legal system, and faith. The book takes the reader on the journey of the Maines family as they learn to embrace the fact that one of their twin sons is transgendered. Nutt draws the reader deeply into the family as they reach affirmation, acceptance, and love.  Exploring accepted norms of gender and sexuality, Becoming Nicole allows the reader to understand the dimensions of human expression with compassion.


Students are expected to purchase and read Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of An American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt over the summer of 2018, as well as complete and reflect on the guided reading and discussion questions  which will be the focus of the small group discussions during Turning Titan: New Student Orientation on Wednesday, August 22, 2018.

About the Book

Becoming Nicole  chronicles a journey that could have destroyed a family but instead brought it closer together. It’s the story of a mother whose instincts told her that her child needed love and acceptance, not ostracism and disapproval; of a Republican, Air Force veteran father who overcame his deepest fears to become a vocal advocate for trans rights; of a loving brother who bravely stuck up for his twin sister; and of a town forced to confront its prejudices, a school compelled to rewrite its rules, and a courageous community of transgender activists determined to make their voices heard. Ultimately,  Becoming Nicole  is the story of an extraordinary girl who fought for the right to be herself.

(Description retrieved from Penguin Random House.)

About the Author

Amy Ellis Nutt won the Pulitzer Prize in 2011 for her feature series “The Wreck of the Lady Mary,” about the 2009 sinking of a fishing boat off the New Jersey coast. She is a health and science writer at  The Washington Post,  the author of  Shadows Bright as Glass,  and the co-author of the  New York Times  bestseller  The Teenage Brain . She was a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University, a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton, and an instructor of journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in Washington, D.C.

(Biography retrieved from Penguin Random House.)

President's Convocation

To complement the Summer Reading Program, Amy Ellis Nutt will be the speaker for President's Convocation on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 at 11 a.m.