High School Summer Reading Lists
Research tells us that the more a student reads, the more he/she will achieve. The purpose of summer reading is to encourage students to read (or have read aloud to them) a text that builds knowledge for future learning and strengthens skills necessary for students to be successful readers. The following books were chosen based on many criteria, including reading level, connections to future ELA content, student interest, and more.
Students can choose one book to read over the summer from the grade-level list below.
By Robert Lipsyte
Can be borrowed by signing up for a free account at www.archive.org.
Alfred Brooks is scared. He's a high school dropout and his grocery store job is leading nowhere. His best friend is sinking further and further into drug addiction. Some street kids are after him for something he didn't even do. So Alfred begins going to Donatelli's Gym, a boxing club in Harlem that has trained champions. There he learns it's the effort, not the win, that makes the man -- that last desperate struggle to get back on your feet when you thought you were down for the count.
To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
In To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee uses memorable characters to explore civil rights and racism in the segregated Southern United States of the 1930s. Told through the eyes of Scout Finch, you learn about her father Atticus Finch, an attorney who hopelessly strives to prove the innocence of a black man unjustly accused of a crime; and about Boo Radley, a mysterious neighbor who saves Scout and her brother Jem from being killed.
By Louisa May Alcott
This novel follows the lives of four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March – detailing their passage from childhood to womanhood, and is loosely based on the author and her three sisters. Little Women was an immediate commercial and critical success. It is a fiction novel for girls that veered from the normal writings for children, especially girls, at the time. The novel had three major themes: “domesticity, work, and true love, all of them interdependent and each necessary to the achievement of its heroine’s individual identity.”
Little Women itself “has been read as a romance or as a quest, or both. It has been read as a family drama that validates virtue over wealth.” Little Women has been read “as a means of escaping that life by women who knew its gender constraints only too well.” Alcott “combines many conventions of the sentimental novel with crucial ingredients of Romantic children’s fiction, creating a new form of which Little Women is a unique model.” Elbert argued that within Little Women can be found the first vision of the “American Girl” and that her multiple aspects are embodied in the differing March sisters.
By Emily Bronte
Fiction - Gothic Romance
Wuthering Heights is a wild, passionate story of the intense love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, a foundling adopted by Catherine's father. After Mr. Earnshaw's death, Heathcliff is bullied and humiliated by Catherine's brother Hindley and wrongly believing that his love for Catherine is not reciprocated, leaves Wuthering Heights, only to return years later as a wealthy and polished man. He proceeds to exact a terrible revenge for his former miseries. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent, but the accomplished handling of a complex structure, the evocative descriptions of the lonely moorland setting and the poetic grandeur of vision combine to make this unique novel a masterpiece of English literature.
If the Iliad is the world's greatest war epic, the Odyssey is literature's grandest evocation of an everyman's journey through life. Odysseus' reliance on his wit and wiliness for survival in his encounters with divine and natural forces during his ten-year voyage home to Ithaca after the Trojan War is at once a timeless human story and an individual test of moral endurance.
By Ron Chernow
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow presents a landmark biography of Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who galvanized, inspired, scandalized, and shaped the newborn nation. In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. The book became the inspiration for the hit musical, Hamilton, by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
My Brother Sam is Dead
By Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier
My Brother Sam Is Dead is a 1974 young-adult historical fiction novel by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier. The book takes place in Redding, Connecticut during the American Revolution, and is told from the perspective of a young boy, Tim Meeker.
By Charles Dickens
In what may be Dickens's best novel, humble, orphaned Pip is apprenticed to the dirty work of the forge but dares to dream of becoming a gentleman — and one day, under sudden and enigmatic circumstances, he finds himself in possession of "great expectations." In this gripping tale of crime and guilt, revenge and reward, the compelling characters include Magwitch, the fearful and fearsome convict; Estella, whose beauty is excelled only by her haughtiness; and the embittered Miss Havisham, an eccentric jilted bride.
Tears of a Tiger
By Sharon Draper
After a car accident resulting in the death of his longtime friend and fellow Hazelwood Tiger, Andy, the driver, blames himself and cannot get past his guilt and pain. While his other friends have managed to work through their grief and move on, Andy allows death to become the focus of his life. In the months that follow the accident, the lives of Andy and his friends are traced through a series of letters, articles, homework assignments, and dialogues, and it becomes clear that Tigers do indeed need to cry.
Lord of the Flies
By William Golding
At the dawn of the next world war, a plane crashes on an uncharted island, stranding a group of schoolboys. At first, with no adult supervision, their freedom is something to celebrate; this far from civilization the boys can do anything they want. Anything. They attempt to forge their own society, failing, however, in the face of terror, sin and evil. And as order collapses, as strange howls echo in the night, as terror begins its reign, the hope of adventure seems as far from reality as the hope of being rescued.
This Side of Paradise
By F. Scott Fitzgerald
This Side of Paradise follows the life of young Amory Blaine in the tumultuous America of the early twentieth century. Highly sophisticated yet hopelessly romantic, Amory flounders from prep school to Princeton to glittering Jazz Age New York, confident that he is destined for greatness but unsure how to go about it.
A Raisin in the Sun
By Lorainne Hansberry
Set in 1950s Chicago, the story tells of an African American family's experiences as they attempt to improve their financial circumstances with an insurance payout following the death of the father. The play also deals with the conflict between the family members and their perceptions in the face of injustice.
Twelve Years a Slave
By Solomon Northup
Twelve Years a Slave is an 1853 memoir and slave narrative by American Solomon Northup as told to and edited by David Wilson. Northup, a black man who was born free in New York state, details his being tricked to go to Washington, D.C., where he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in the Deep South.
By John Gardner
Grendel is a 1971 novel by the American author John Gardner. It is a retelling of part of the Old English poem Beowulf from the perspective of the antagonist, Grendel. In the novel, Grendel is portrayed as an antihero.
By Lisa Klein
Fiction - Young Adult
He is Hamlet, Prince of Denmark; she is simply Ophelia. If you think you know their story, think again.
In this reimagining of Shakespeare's famous tragedy, it is Ophelia who takes center stage. A rowdy, motherless girl, she grows up at Elsinore Castle to become the queen's most trusted lady-in-waiting. Ambitious for knowledge and witty as well as beautiful, Ophelia learns the ways of power in a court where nothing is as it seems. When she catches the attention of the captivating, dark-haired Prince Hamlet, their love blossoms in secret. But bloody deeds soon turn Denmark into a place of madness, and Ophelia's happiness is shattered. Ultimately, she must choose between her love for Hamlet and her own life. In desperation, Ophelia devises a treacherous plan to escape from Elsinore forever . . . with one very dangerous secret.
Brave New World
The novel opens in the year 632 A.F. (which means After Ford). All of civilization has been destroyed by a great war. Then there is another war, the Nine Years War, which ushers in the era of Ford, ensuring stability through dictatorship. The society depicted in the novel is based on a rigid caste system. The higher of the five castes enjoy superior tasks, while the lower ones perform menial roles. Ten Controllers hold all the power in this new world and peace is maintained by conditioning infant minds and by soothing adults. The population is further controlled through scientific methods; marriage is forbidden, and children are not born but produced in an embryo factory. Would you want to live in a world like this?