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Junior High and High School Summer Reading  

Suggested Reading List

 

Grades 7-8:

The following books can be loaned from the WHS English Department:

•   I Had Seen Castles, by Cynthia Rylant
John Dante is seventeen when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and he wants to fight for his country. But then he falls head over heels for Ginny Burton, who is against all war, and his beliefs are suddenly questioned. Rather than be judged a traitor or a coward, though, John enlists--a decision that changes his life forever.

•   Black Like Me, by John Howard Griffin
He trudged southern streets searching for a place where he could eat or rest, looking vainly for a job other than menial labor, feeling the "hate stare." He was John Griffin, a white man who darkened the color of his skin and crossed the line into a country of hate, fear, and hopelessness--the country of the American Black man.

•   Somehow Tenderness Survives, by Hazel Rochman
Apartheid. It's about suffering, about violence. Here are ten stories and autobiographical accounts, by southern African writers of various races. Some of the writers -- Nadine Gordimer, Mark Mathabane, Doris Lessing -- are well-known; all of them deserve to be. Their stories, individually and as a group, create a moving, sometimes shockingly vivid portrait of what it feels like to grow up in a land where racism is the law.

The following texts can be downloaded for free from gutenberg.org:

•   The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
At Baskerville Hall on the grim moors of Devonshire, a legendary curse has apparently claimed one more victim. Sir Charles Baskerville has been found dead. There are no signs of violence, but his face is hideously distorted with terror. Years earlier, a hound-like beast with blazing eyes and dripping jaws was reported to have torn out the throat of Hugo Baskerville. Has the spectral destroyer struck again? More important, is Sir Henry Baskerville, younger heir to the estate, now in danger?
Enter Sherlock Holmes, summoned to protect Sir Henry from the fate that has threatened the Baskerville family. As Holmes and Watson begin to investigate, a blood-chilling howl from the fog-shrouded edges of the great Grimpen Mire signals that the legendary hound of the Baskervilles is poised for yet another murderous attack.

•   The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
Climb aboard the raft with Huck and Jim and drift away from the "civilized" life and into a world of adventure, excitement, danger, and self-discovery. Huck's shrewd and humorous narrative is complemented by lyrical descriptions of the Mississippi valley and a sparkling cast of memorable characters.

•   Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
One of the most popular and most quoted books in English, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was the creation of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898), a distinguished scholar, mathematician and author who wrote under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. Written for young readers but enjoyed equally by adults, the wonderfully fantastic tale is credited with revolutionizing children's literature and liberating it from didactic constraints.
The story is deeply but gently satiric, enlivened with an imaginative plot and brilliant use of nonsense, as it relates Alice's adventures in a bizarre, topsy-turvy land underground. There she encounters a cast of strange characters and fanciful beasts, including the White Rabbit, March Hare, Mad Hatter, the sleepy Dormouse and grinning Cheshire Cat, the Mock Turtle, the dreadful Queen of Hearts and a host of other unusual creatures.

•   Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
Set in the eighteenth century, Treasure Island spins a heady tale of piracy, a mysterious treasure map, and a host of sinister characters charged with diabolical intentions. Seen through the eyes of Jim Hawkins, the cabin boy of the Hispaniola, the action-packed adventure tells of a perilous sea journey across the Spanish Main, a mutiny led by the infamous Long John Silver, and a lethal scramble for buried treasure on an exotic isle.
Rich in atmosphere and character, Treasure Island continues to mesmerize readers with its perceptive views of the changing nature of human motives.

•   The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
So begins the Time Traveller’s astonishing firsthand account of his journey 800,000 years beyond his own era—and the story that launched H.G. Wells’s successful career and earned him his reputation as the father of science fiction. With a speculative leap that still fires the imagination, Wells sends his brave explorer to face a future burdened with our greatest hopes...and our darkest fears. A pull of the Time Machine’s lever propels him to the age of a slowly dying Earth. There he discovers two bizarre races—the ethereal Eloi and the subterranean Morlocks—who not only symbolize the duality of human nature, but offer a terrifying portrait of the men of tomorrow as well.

•   The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane
Henry Fleming, a private in the Union Army, runs away from the field of war. Afterwards, the shame he feels at this act of cowardice ignites his desire to receive an injury in combat—a “red badge of courage” that will redeem him. Stephen Crane’s novel about a young soldier’s experiences during the American Civil War is well known for its understated naturalism and its realistic depiction of battle.

Other Recommended Titles (for purchase or loaned from a library):

•   The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, by Michael Scott

•   Bad Island, by Doug TenNapel

•   Dogs of War, by Sheila Keenan

•   Does My Head Look Big Like This?, by Randa Abdel-Fattah

•   Counting by 7’s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

•   Legend, by Maria Lu

•   Road Trip, by Gary Paulsen

•   The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt

•   When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

•   One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia

Grades 9-10:

The following texts can be loaned from the WHS English department:

•   Death Be Not Proud, by John Gunther
Johnny Gunther was only seventeen years old when he died of a brain tumor. During the months of his illness, everyone near him was unforgettably impressed by his level-headed courage, his wit and quiet friendliness, and, above all, his unfaltering patience through times of despair. This deeply moving book is a father's memoir of a brave, intelligent, and spirited boy.

•   Sula, by Toni Morrison
Two girls who grow up to become women. Two friends who become something worse than enemies. In this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison tells the story of Nel Wright and Sula Peace, who meet as children in the small town of Medallion, Ohio. Their devotion is fierce enough to withstand bullies and the burden of a dreadful secret. It endures even after Nel has grown up to be a pillar of the black community and Sula has become a pariah. But their friendship ends in an unforgivable betrayal—or does it end?

•   The Iceman Cometh, by Eugene O’Neill
In the half century since its publication, The Iceman Cometh has gained enormously in stature, and many critics now recognize it as one of the greatest plays in American drama. The Iceman Cometh focuses on a group of alcoholics and misfits who endlessly discuss but never act on their dreams, and Hickey, the traveling salesman determined to strip them of their pipe dreams.

•   All Quiet on the Western Front, Erich Remarque
Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive.

•   Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe
Achebe's first novel portrays the collision of African and European cultures in people's lives. Okonkwo, a great man in Igbo traditional society, cannot adapt to the profound changes brought about by British colonial rule. Yet, as in classic tragedy, Okonkwo's downfall results from his own character as well as from external forces. Things Fall Apart tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a "strong man" of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo's fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo's world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.

The following texts can be downloaded for free from gutenberg.org:

•   A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Against the backdrop of the French Revolution, Dickens unfolds a masterpiece of drama, adventure, and courage featuring Charles Darnay, a man falsely accused of treason. He bears an uncanny resemblance to the dissolute, yet noble Sydney Carton — a coincidence that saves Darnay from certain doom more than once. Brilliantly plotted, the novel culminates in a daring prison escape in the shadow of the guillotine.

•   A Prayer For Owen Meany, by John Irving
In the summer of 1953, two eleven-year-old boys-best friends-are playing in a Little League baseball game in Gravesend, New Hampshire. One of the boys hits a foul ball that kills the other boy's mother. The boy who hits the ball doesn't believe in accidents; Owen Meany believes he is God's instrument. What happens to Owen, after that 1953 foul ball, is extraordinary.

•   The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
Celebrated novel traces the moral degeneration of a handsome young Londoner from an innocent fop into a cruel and reckless pursuer of pleasure and, ultimately, a murderer. As Dorian Gray sinks into depravity, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait reflects the ravages of crime and sensuality.

•   Dracula, by Bram Stoker
During a business visit to Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania, a young English solicitor finds himself at the center of a series of horrifying incidents. Jonathan Harker is attacked by three phantom women, observes the Count's transformation from human to bat form, and discovers puncture wounds on his own neck that seem to have been made by teeth. Harker returns home upon his escape from Dracula's grim fortress, but a friend's strange malady — involving sleepwalking, inexplicable blood loss, and mysterious throat wounds — initiates a frantic vampire hunt.

•   Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is the story of a small, plain-faced, intelligent, and passionate English orphan. Jane is abused by her aunt and cousin and then attends a harsh charity school. Through it all she remains strong and determinedly refuses to allow a cruel world to crush her independence or her strength of will. A masterful story of a woman's quest for freedom and love.

•   Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup
New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Golden Globe Winner for Best Drama In this enhanced/authenticated edition by Dr. Sue Eakin of the riveting true slave narrative that reads like a novel, you are transported to 1840's New York, Washington, D.C., and Louisiana to experience the kidnapping and twelve years of bondage of Solomon Northup, a free man of color. TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, published in 1853, was an immediate bombshell in the national debate over slavery leading up to the Civil War. It validated Harriett Beecher Stowe's fictional account of Southern slavery in Uncle Tom's Cabin, which significantly changed public opinion in favor of abolition.

•   The Island of D. Moreau, by H.G. Wells
Enormously inventive tale about a mad surgeon-turned-vivisectionist on a remote island who performs ghoulish experiments that transform animals into men. It is one of Wells' earliest and most sinister personifications of the scientific quest to control and manipulate the natural world, and, ultimately, human nature itself.

Other Recommended Titles (for purchase or loaned from a library):

•   The Five People You Meet In Heaven, by Mitch Albom

•   Chains, by Laurie Halse Anderson

•   Flags of Our Fathers, by James Bradley

•   Bang, by Sharon Flake

•   Hole in my Life, by Jack Gantos

•   The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon

•   The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd

•   The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, by Carolyn Macker

Grades 11-12:

The following texts can be loaned from the WHS English Department:

•   Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
Slaughterhous-Five is one of the world's great anti-war books. Centering on the infamous fire-bombing of Dresden, Billy Pilgrim's odyssey through time reflects the mythic journey of our own fractured lives as we search for meaning in what we are afraid to know.

•   1984, by George Orwell
Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.

•   Native Son, by Richard Wright
Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright's powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

•   Going After Cacciato, by Tim O’Brien
In a blend of reality and fantasy, this novel tells the story of a young soldier who one day lays down his rifle and sets off on a quixotic journey from the jungles of Indochina to the streets of Paris. In its memorable evocation of men both fleeing from and meeting the demands of battle, Going After Cacciato stands as much more than just a great war novel. Ultimately it's about the forces of fear and heroism that do battle in the hearts of us all.

•   The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
1906 bestseller shockingly reveals intolerable labor practices and unsanitary working conditions in the Chicago stockyards as it tells the brutally grim story of a Slavic family that emigrates to America full of optimism but soon descends into numbing poverty, moral degradation, and despair. A fiercely realistic American classic that will haunt readers long after they've finished the last page.

•   Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger
A collection of nine short stories by acclaimed author J.D. Salinger. The Stories: A Perfect Day for Bananafish, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut, Just Before the War with the Eskimos, The Laughing Man, Down at the Dinghy, For Esme -- With Love and Squalor, Pretty Mouth and Green My Eyes, De Daumier-Smith's Blue Period, and Teddy

•   Dr. Faustus, by Christopher Marlowe
One of Western culture's most enduring myths recounts a learned German doctor's sale of his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge and power. Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe transformed the Faust legend into the English language's first epic tragedy, a vivid drama that abounds in psychological insights and poetic grandeur.

•   Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged is the astounding story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world--and did. Tremendous in scope, breathtaking in its suspense, Atlas Shrugged stretches the boundaries further than any book you have ever read. It is a mystery, not about the murder of a man's body, but about the murder--and rebirth--of man's spirit. Atlas Shrugged is the "second most influential book for Americans today" after the Bible, according to a joint survey conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club.

The following texts can be downloaded for free from gutenberg.org:

•   The Scarlet Letter, by Nathanial Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 romantic work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an adulterous affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.

•   Sense and Sensibility, by Jane Austen
Spirited and impulsive, Marianne Dashwood is the complete opposite to her controlled and sensible sister, Elinor. When it comes to matters of the heart, Marianne is passionate and romantic and soon falls for the charming, but unreliable Mr Willoughby. Elinor, in contrast, copes stoically with the news that her love, Edward Ferrars is promised to another.
It is through their shared experiences of love that both sisters come to learn that the key to a successful match comes from finding the perfect mixture of rationality and feeling.\

•   Uncle Tom’s Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Selling more than 300,000 copies the first year it was published, Stowe's powerful abolitionist novel fueled the fire of the human rights debate in 1852. Denouncing the institution of slavery in dramatic terms, the incendiary novel quickly draws the reader into the world of slaves and their masters. Stowe's characters are powerfully and humanly realized in Uncle Tom, a majestic and heroic slave whose faith and dignity are never corrupted; Eliza and her husband, George, who elude slave catchers and eventually flee a country that condones slavery; Simon Legree, a brutal plantation owner; Little Eva, who suffers emotionally and physically from the suffering of slaves; and fun-loving Topsy, Eva's slave playmate.

•   Common Sense, by Thomas Paine
Enormously popular and widely read pamphlet, first published in January of 1776, clearly and persuasively argues for American separation from Great Britain and paves the way for the Declaration of Independence. This highly influential landmark document attacks the monarchy, cites the evils of government and combines idealism with practical economic concerns.

•   Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Jacobs
This autobiographical account by a former slave is one of the few extant narratives written by a woman. Written and published in 1861, it delivers a powerful portrayal of the brutality of slave life. Jacobs speaks frankly of her master's abuse and her eventual escape, in a tale of dauntless spirit and faith.

Other Recommended Titles (for purchase or loaned from a library):

•   And The Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini

•   Big Girl Small, by Rachel DeWoskin

•   Long Drive Home, by Will Allison

•   Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall and Denver Moore