The English Department looks forward to welcoming you to high

Walt Whitman High School
Summer Reading List
9th Grade 2011 - 2012
The English Department looks forward to welcoming you to high school and
congratulates you on reaching this milestone in your academic journey. To assist
you in this journey and to help prepare you for the rigors of high school, the 9th
grade teachers have compiled a list of summer reading texts that we hope will
entertain and challenge you. This list will also give you an idea of the depth of what
you will be reading and in some cases will give you some background to upcoming
texts. We encourage you to read with friends and parents and to discuss themes,
character development, and figurative language. Where a film version is available
and it meets parental guidelines for viewing, watch it! Literature and film have much
in common BUT film does not replace literature. In short, have fun, make lemonade
out of the lemon of required reading, but do come prepared!
Each student must read the following selections over the summer. One novel,
one biography (or autobiography) of a famous American of the 1920s or 1930s, and
these poems by Langston Hughes: “Harlem”, “Theme for English B”, and “Mother
to Son”.
Note: summer reading grades account for 5% of your first quarter grade.
You will keep reading logs for both the novel and the biography typed in 12 point
font that addresses the prompts below. In the first week of school you will hand in
your typed reading log, stapled in the upper left hand corner, with your name, your
teacher’s name, the period number, and the date clearly labeled, also in the upper
left corner of the first page. Logs will be your first submission to
Questions 1, 2, and 3 address your biography. Questions 4 through 8 are for the
novel (fiction). Question 9 is for either text. Cite your information.
1. Where and when did the author live? (Biography)
2. What were or are his interests? (Biography)
3. Identify the motivating factor(s) of his life. (Biography)
4. How does the text open? Consider tone, diction, and setting. (Novel)
5. What is the author trying to convey about life or human nature (theme)? (Novel)
6. What is the major conflict? (Novel)
7. Describe the climax. (Novel)
8. Who is your favorite character from the novel? Why? (Novel)
9. Who would you most like to meet in Starbucks? What would you like to tell him? (It
need not be your favorite character.) (Novel or Biography)
Famous Americans - Suggestions for the biography/autobiography (nonfiction):
Margaret Burke-White Al Capone Coco Chanel Countee Cullen
Walt Disney
Albert Einstein
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Ernest Hemingway
Langston Hughes
Zora Neale Hurston Dorothea Lange
Charles Lindberg
Jesse Owens
Eleanor Roosevelt
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Orson Welles
Fiction Selections:
Blackbird by Jennifer Lauck. A beautiful memoir, both heartbreaking and absorbing, of a child’s
loss, loneliness, and her ability to survive and grow.
Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk. This WWII novel of mutiny aboard the USS Caine explores ethical
and legal issues of mutiny law in a real-life situation when officers and sailors must face their captain’s
debilitating paranoia. (Great film starring Humphrey Boart and James Cagney)
The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. An award-winning classic mystery involving a hardnosed PI, a dangerous dame, and a mysterious bird. This novel became a standard for mystery novels
and film noir. (Oscar winning film starring the incomparable Humphrey Bogart)
Alas Babylon by Pat Frank. Survival after a nuclear attack brings out heroes and the cowards as
residents of a small Florida town reestablish law and order, find food, and ponder the future. Writing
is simple, straightforward, and practical.
Emma by Jane Austin. A witty and amusing look at Regency England’s manners and social mores
embodied by a delightful mis-matcher. (Best movie version stars Gwyneth Paltrow. Clueless is a fun
update starring Alicia Silverstone)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Where Emma is light, this tale is dark. A suspenseful gothic tale of a
penniless orphan who becomes a governess and then the mistress of a house haunted by madness,
terrible secrets, and desire. (Great movie versions available among which are the early one with the
incomparable Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine, and the newer version with William Hurt and
Charlotte Gainsborough and Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbinder.)
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. A modern companion to Jane Eyre where a delicate heroine saves
both the day and the hero as she rises from rags to riches. (Best film version with Sir Lawrence Olivier
and a type-cast Joan Fontaine – she plays a great victim)
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. A gothic tale of a Victorian era girls’ boarding
school with a deadly secret which focuses on one character, Gemma, who is intrigued and confused
by a circle of girls who seem to hold strange powers.
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. This classic looks at the difficult lives of immigrants and inside the
horrors of the Chicago meat-packing industry in the 1920s and 1930s.