12th Grade Summer Assignments

Cohasset Middle/High School
Summer Reading
for students entering
grades 6-12
for 2014-2015
All students entering sixth grade at Cohasset Middle School are required to read at least
one of the following books and complete the summer reading assignment that follows. Of
course, students are encouraged to read more than one book and write a book review for
each book they finish. There will be prizes in September for students who read more than
one book!
Peak by Roland Smith ISBN: 978-0-545-03203-2
Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper ISBN: 978-1-4169-7171-9
The Thing about Luck by Cynthia Kadohata ISBN: 978-1-4169-1882-0
90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis ISBN: 978-1-250-00559-5
Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea ISBN: 978-0-385-73882-8
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan ISBN: 978-0-8037-3855-3
Materials Recommended:
Multi-colored sticky notes
Required Activities: Students must complete both the “During Reading” activities and
“After Reading” questions. The “During Reading” activities will make it much easier to
complete the “After Reading” questions.
During Reading
1. Plot Notes: As you read, use sticky notes to keep track of the plot (series of events). At
the end of each chapter, write a 1-2 sentence summary of the most important event(s) in
the chapter on a sticky note.
2: Character Notes: As you read, use sticky notes to keep track of the characters as they are
introduced. Put the character’s name and any information you learn about him or her on a
sticky note.
3. Responding to your Reading: As you read, put an ! next to something that surprised you,
a ? next to something that confused you, an * next to something that was very important
and a < if you made a connection. If you own the book, you can write these notes in the
margin. If it is a library book, you can keep this information on sticky notes.
After Reading
After you finish reading, answer the following questions. Please dedicate one paragraph
for each answer. Make sure that you use your sticky notes to help you include details from
the novel in your answers.
1. Write a summary of your favorite character in the story. Use information from the story
to describe the character, his or her relationship to the other characters, and his or her
role in the story. If you had one piece of advice to give that character, what would it be?
2. Write a book review by briefly summarizing the plot in your own words (5-6 sentences)
and sharing your feelings about the book. Be specific about why you liked or did not like
the story. Please share the parts of the story that were surprising, confusing, or very
important in your book. Support your response with relevant and specific details from the
3. Make connections to the story. What connections to your own experiences did you
make with the story? For example, if the characters in the story go fishing and you like to
fish, tell us. Please share as many connections to the story as you can or one very detailed
connection. This will help us get to know you.
Please be prepared to share your responses with your class and submit your
completed assignment to your ELA teacher during the first week of school.
Please feel free to e-mail us your reactions to the book or any questions you have about
the summer reading requirement. Our e-mail addresses are [email protected] and
[email protected] We look forward to seeing you in September.
Cohasset Grade 7 Summer Reading 2014
All incoming seventh graders are required to read one work of nonfiction and one work of fiction from the lists that
follow. Students are also required to complete the Before Reading, During Reading and After Reading activities in this
packet. These activities will be checked and marked for a homework assignment grade during the first week of school.
Completion of these activities will also be preparation for class discussions, a project assignment, and a literary response
Nonfiction Choices
Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal
ISBN: 978-1250034274
Gangsters, guns, and political battles—this book has them all—and presents them in compelling prose. Blumenthal
opens with the infamous St. Valentine's Day Massacre, then traces the history of the temperance movement from the
Puritans through the signing of the 21st Amendment. Important individuals are given the spotlight, some well-known
like Al Capone and Carrie Nation, others more obscure but equally essential, such as Senator Morris Sheppard, the
Father of National Prohibition. Black-and-white period photographs and reproductions of propaganda material included.
To Timbuktu: Nine Countries, Two People. One True Story by Casey Scieszka & Steven Weinberg
ISBN: 978-1596435278
To Timbuktu is a travelogue that will provide great inspiration for teenagers and young adults who are looking for
adventure and self-discovery. After college graduation, Scieszka and her boyfriend set off on an almost two-year jaunt to
various parts of Asia and Africa where they lived, worked, and learned far from their homes in the States. She journaled
with words while Weinberg did so with sketched illustrations, and the result is an appealing and engaging tale of the ups
and downs of their journey.
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode Bicycles to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along
the Way) by Sue Macy ISBN: 978-1426307614
The heyday of the bicycle in the late 1800s seems to go hand-in-hand with the early struggle for more freedoms and
rights for women. With this simple mode of transportation, new worlds were suddenly open to women who had been
living under fairly strict social customs; it gave them the confidence to explore new opportunities, exercise, and even
transform their clothing from the restrictive corsets and petticoats to ones that were more comfortable, and
considerably more daring. The use of primary sources such as advertisements, excerpts from journals, photographs, and
artwork all add invaluably to the informative and accessible writing.
Witches! The Absolutely True Story of the Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer
ISBN: 978-1426308697
Schanzer succinctly re-creates the hysteria, confusion, and tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials in this compact and
evocative overview. In a conversational tone, she poignantly describes the religious fervor of the Puritans and the ease
with which neighbors and family members accused one another (and even domestic animals) of witchcraft. From the
"testimony" of witnesses, to the courtroom proceedings, and to the eventual realization that the accusations and trials
were nearing epic in proportion, the author effortlessly guides readers through this bizarre moment in American history.
Schanzer's top-notch stylized black-and-white illustrations highlighted with small touches of red enhance the text.
The World Without Fish by Mark Kurlansky ISBN: 761156070
Mark Kurlansky offers a riveting new book for kids about what’s happening to fish, the oceans, and our environment,
and what, armed with knowledge, kids can do about it. World Without Fish connects all the dots—biology, economics,
evolution, politics, climate, history, culture, food, and nutrition—in a way that kids can really understand. Interwoven
with the book is a full-color graphic novel.
Cohasset Grade 7 Summer Reading 2014: Fiction Choices
Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech ISBN-13: 9780064406321
Mary Lou Finney, 13, is keeping a summer journal for her English class. Letting it all hang out, she describes her noisy,
uninhibited but loving family, her first romance, and her nerdy cousin, Carl Ray, who changes the path of her summer.
Her efforts to make sense of Homer's Odyssey (note: we read a version of The Odyssey later in the year) add depth and
delight to the story, especially when she realizes that the epic poem is an odyssey for life.
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson ISBN-13: 9781416905868
If an entire nation could seek its freedom, why not a girl? As the Revolutionary War begins, a thirteen-year-old slave
named Isabel wages her own fight...for freedom. Promised freedom upon the death of their owner, she and her sister,
Ruth, in a cruel twist of fate become the property of a malicious New York City couple, the Locktons, who have no
sympathy for the American Revolution and even less for Ruth and Isabel. When Isabel meets Curzon, a slave with ties to
the Patriots, he encourages her to spy on her owners, who know details of British plans for invasion. She is reluctant at
first, but when the unthinkable happens to Ruth, Isabel realizes her loyalty is available to the bidder who can provide her
with freedom.
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix ISBN-13: 9781416954217
Thirteen-year old Jonah and friends are plunged into a mystery that involves the FBI, a vast smuggling operation, an
airplane that appeared out of nowhere— and people who seem to appear and disappear at will. The kids discover they
are caught in a battle between two opposing forces that want very different things for Jonah and his friend Chip's lives.
Do Jonah and Chip have any choice in the matter? What should they choose when both alternatives are horrifying?
Heat by Mike Lupica ISBN-13: 9780142407578
When Michael Arroyo is on the baseball diamond, everything feels right. He's a terrific pitcher who dreams of leading his
South Bronx All-Stars to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA. It's a dream he shared with his father, one
they brought with them as they fled Cuba and wound up living in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Michael's ultimate
dream is to play in the major leagues like his hero, El Grande, Yankee star and fellow Cuban refugee…When a bitter rival
spreads rumors that Michael is older than he appears, the league demands that he be benched until he can produce a
birth certificate…
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien ISBN-13: 9780618260300
Whisked away from his comfortable life in his hobbit-hole by Gandalf the wizard and a company of dwarves, Bilbo
Baggins finds himself caught up in a plot to raid the treasure hoard of Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very
dangerous dragon.
(All book descriptions taken from bn.com or amazon.com.)
Activities: Nonfiction—Graphic Organizer
Use this graphic organizer as you read to help organize your notes on the information from your
nonfiction book. These graphic organizers will be checked by your teacher during the first week of
school in September.
Book title: _____________________________________ Author:___________________________________
Nonfiction—Before Reading Your response to the Before Reading question should be neatly
handwritten on this graphic organizer in note form. You do not need to use complete sentences.
What is the topic of the book? What do you already know about the topic? What do
you hope to learn about the topic through the book?
Book Topic: ___________________________________________________
What do I already know or think I know about
the topic? (Try to list three)
What am I curious about or hope to learn
through reading the book? (Try to list at least
Nonfiction—During Reading If you are using an e-reader or a library book that will need to be
returned, record your notes from the During Reading activities in the space below. Otherwise, the During
Reading activities should be completed with sticky notes. Don’t forget to include page numbers with each
note you record!
Fascinating Facts
Plot Elements: Setting,
Characters, Conflict
Nonfiction—After Reading Respond to the following question in the space below. Your response
should be neatly handwritten and should be at least 5-7 sentences long.
What information did you find to be most fascinating or surprising? Explain three
new, fascinating, or surprising pieces of information that you learned through the
book. How did this information affect you? Did it evoke any reaction or emotion?
Activities: Fiction—Graphic Organizer
Use this graphic organizer as you read to help organize your notes on the information from your
fiction book. These graphic organizers will be checked by your teacher during the first week of school
in September.
Book title: _____________________________________ Author: __________________________________
Fiction—Before Reading Your response to the Before Reading question should be neatly handwritten
on this graphic organizer in full sentence form.
Why did you choose this book? What intrigued you? Based on what you already
know about the plot, make a prediction about what will happen in the book.
Fiction During Reading If you are using an e-reader or a library book that will need to be returned,
record your notes from the During Reading activities in the space below. Otherwise, the During Reading
activities should be completed with sticky notes. Don’t forget to include page numbers with each note you
Plot Elements: Setting,
Characters, Conflict
Fiction—After Reading Respond to the following questions in the space below. Each response should be
neatly handwritten and should be at least 5-7 sentences long.
Fiction—After Reading #1: What was the most exciting, suspenseful or memorable
moment in the book? Write a journal entry from the perspective of a character that
experienced that moment and describe it through their eyes. Don’t forget to use
descriptive language and sensory detail to describe the event.
Fiction—After Reading #2: Based on the characters, conflicts(s), plot events and
resolution of the book, identify one possible theme (a message about life or human
nature suggested by a text) that a reader could draw from this book. Give three
examples of the ways the theme was communicated throughout the plot. How could
a reader apply the understanding of the book’s theme to a situation in real life?
All students entering eighth grade at Cohasset Middle-High School are required to read:
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (with an introduction by Eleanor Roosevelt) New
York: Bantam Books, 1993. ISBN 0-553-29698-1.
A. Required Reading Response (The Diary of a Young Girl)
Students must answer the following essential questions about the required reading in a notebook and be
ready to discuss their answers in class. Students should include page references, dates, or sections of the
text as evidence to support their responses:
Essential Questions:
How can a person impact others?
2. What is the nature of a life well lived?
3. What is the nature of conflict, and what makes up the forces of good and evil?
4. How do a person’s experiences and attitudes reflect human nature and life?
B. Summer Reading Book Choice
All students entering grade eight must choose one book from the following list. The book will be the
basis for a formal, in-class essay written during the first week of school. Students can prepare for the
essay by keeping notes in their notebook about the following topics: setting, character development, and
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in
colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt
who gives her love too freely--to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Like the Tree of Heaven that
grows out of cement or through cellar gratings, resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive. –
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
A terrible accident has transformed Billie Jo’s life, scarring her inside and out. Her mother is gone. Her father can’t talk
about it. To make matters worse, dust storms are devastating the family farm, and Billie Jo is left to find peace in the
bleak landscape of Oklahoma-and in the surprising landscape of her own heart.
Witness by Karen Hesse
In 1924 a small town in Vermont is falling under the influence of the Ku Klux Klan. Two girls, one black and the other
Jewish, are among those who are no longer welcome. As the potential for violence increases, heroes and villains are
revealed. –Amazon.com
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
This memoir of an English countryside veterinarian is filled with humor, tale-telling and
a love of life.
The Pigman and Me by Paul Zindel
In this engaging memoir, Zindel describes one of his teen years growing up on Staten Island, NY and the man who
became the model for the character in Zindel’s book. He tells the tale of how he found his own pigman, or mentor.
Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo by Zlata Filopovic
The compelling, firsthand account tells of the destruction of a young Croatian girl’s city
in the Yugoslavian war.
Chasing Lincoln’s Killer by James L. Swanson
This fast-paced thriller tells the story of the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth and gives a day-by-day account of
the wild chase to find this killer and his accomplices. This is an accessible look at the assassination of a president, and
shows readers Abraham Lincoln the man, the father, the husband, the friend, and how his death impacted those closest to
him. -Amazon.com
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Set during World War II in Germany, this novel is the story of a foster girl living outside of Munich who scratches out a
meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist – books. With the help of her
foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors as well as with the Jewish man hidden in
her basement. – Amazon.com
New Boy by Julian Houston
Fifteen-year-old Rob Garrett wants to escape the segregated South and prove himself. But in late 1950s Virginia,
opportunity doesn’t come easily to an African American. So Rob’s parents take the unusual step of enrolling their son in
a Connecticut boarding school. But times are challenging. A movement is rising back home. In Rob’s hometown, his
friends are on the verge of taking action against segregation. There is even talk about sitting in at a lunch counter that
refuses to serve black people. How can Rob hope to make a difference when he’s a world away? - Amazon.com
The Berlin Boxing Club by Robert Sharenow
“I held my breath as Karl Stern, fierce and thoughtful, fought his way through the Nazi wolf pack and his own insecurities
to save his family and become a boxer and an artist.” – Robert Lipsyte, author of The Contender and Center Field
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
“Ford expertly nails the sweet innocence of first love, the cruelty of racism, the blindness of patriotism, the astonishing
unknowns between parents and their children, and the sadness and satisfaction at the end of a life well lived. The result is
a vivid picture of a confusing and critical time in American history.” – Library Journal
Summer Reading
9th Grade English
All students entering ninth grade must read George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
The novel
will be the basis for our first unit of study. Students should answer the following guiding questions in a
notebook and be ready to discuss their answers in conjunction with the novel.
What causes people to rise up and rebel?
What prevailing conditions cause revolt?
What is the nature of power, and how do people get/take it and use or abuse it?
What are the qualities of a good leader?
How does revolution affect individuals- rich and poor, leaders and followers?
How can we identify examples of governmental abuse in our world?
College Prep students must choose one book from the following list. The book will be the basis for a formal,
in-class essay written in the first week of school.
Honors students must choose two books from the following list. One book will be the basis for a formal, inclass essay written in the first week of school. A second will be the basis for a homework project to be
completed during the first week of school.
Reading Choices:
Black Boy by Richard Wright (autobiography)
Published in 1945, this autobiography is considered one of Wright’s finest works. Black Boy describes vividly Wright's often harsh,
hardscrabble boyhood and youth in rural Mississippi and in Memphis, Tenn. When the work was first published, many white critics
viewed Black Boy primarily as an attack on racist Southern white society. From the 1960s the work came to be understood as the story
of Wright's coming of age and development as a writer whose race, though a primary component of his life, was but one of many that
formed him as an artist. Black Boy is Wright's powerful account of his journey from innocence to experience in the Jim Crow South. It
is at once an unashamed confession and a profound indictment—a poignant and disturbing record of social injustice and human
suffering. –Amazon.com
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (fiction)
This is the story of Lieutenant Henry, an American, and Catherine Barkley, a British nurse. The two meet in Italy, and almost
immediately Hemingway sets up the central tension of the novel: the tenuous nature of love in a time of war. -Library Thing
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alverez (fiction)
This sensitive story of four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic is told through
a series of episodes beginning in adulthood, when their lives have been shaped by U. S. mores, and moving backwards to their wealthy
childhood on the island. Adapting to American life is difficult and causes embarrassment when friends meet their parents, anger as
they are bullied and called "spics," and identity confusion following summer trips to the family compound in the Dominican Republic.
These interconnected vignettes of family life, resilience, and love are skillfully intertwined and offer young adults a perspective on
immigration and families as well as a look at America through Hispanic eyes. This unique coming-of-age tale is a feast of stories that
will enchant and captivate readers. –Amazon.com
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (fiction)
A searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece. A father and his son walk alone through
burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the
snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the
road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food, and each other. The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It
boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, each the other’s world entire, are sustained by
love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate
destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation. –Amazon.com
The Color of Water by James McBride (memoir)
This book is, indeed, a tribute to the author's mother. In it, the author, a man whose mother was white and his father black, tells two
stories: that of his mother and his own. Tautly written in spare, clear prose, it is a wonderful story of a bi-racial family who succeeded
and achieved the American dream, despite the societal obstacles placed in its way. -Lawyeraau
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck (fictionalized autobiography)
Robert Newton Peck weaves a story of a Vermont boyhood that is part fiction, part memoir. The result is a moving coming-of-age
story that still resonates. Twelve year old Rob is growing up on a dirt-poor farm in Vermont in the 1930s. His parents have become
Shakers and their way of life and values make for some interesting listening and discussion as Rob faces the anguish of loss and learns
lifelong lessons about family love and a caring community. –BarnesandNobel.com
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay (fictionalized memoir)
In 1939, hatred took root in South Africa, where the seeds of apartheid were newly sown. There a boy called Peekay was born. His
childhood was marked by humiliation and abandonment. Yet he vowed to survive–he would become welterweight champion of the
world, he would dream heroic dreams. But his dreams were nothing compared to what awaited him. For he embarked on an epic
journey, where he would learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the mystical power that would sustain him even
when it appeared that villainy would rule the world: The Power of One. –BarnesandNobel.com
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale Volume One: My Father Bleeds by Art Spiegelman (graphic
Some historical events simply beggar any attempt at description--the Holocaust is one of these. Therefore, as it recedes and the people
able to bear witness die, it becomes more and more essential that novel, vigorous methods are used to describe the indescribable.
Examined in these terms, Art Spiegelman's Maus is a tremendous achievement, from a historical perspective as well as an artistic one.
Spiegelman, a stalwart of the underground comics scene of the 1960s and '70s, interviewed his father, Vladek, a Holocaust survivor
living outside New York City, about his experiences. The artist then deftly translated that story into a graphic novel. By portraying a
true story of the Holocaust in comic form--the Jews are mice, the Germans cats, the Poles pigs, the French frogs, and the Americans
dogs--Spiegelman compels the reader to imagine the action, to fill in the blanks that are so often shied away from. Reading Maus, you
are forced to examine the Holocaust anew. –Library Thing
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (drama)
A Raisin in the Sun was produced in New York City in 1959. Hansberry creates the story of the Youngers, a struggling AfricanAmerican family whose members deal with poverty, racism, and painful conflict among themselves as they reach for a better life.
Hansberry balances grim drama, comic moments, and redemptive love as the play unfolds. Set in the aftermath of World War II, the
Younger family is facing its own war against racism in the Chicago slums. America’s complicated history of racial tension between
black Americans and white Americans is ingrained into the Youngers’ everyday lives. –Amazon.com
Anthem by Ayn Rand (fiction)
This is a starkly told tale of a member of a future society, one Equality 7-2521. He is raised in a communal nursery. He knows no
parents, no individuality. The word WE applies to one and all. His unquenchable thirst for freedom and thought leads him to a
monumental and dangerous discovery; the word "I". From this word, all things become possible. This creates the atmosphere for a
society so bereft of freedom and dignity that even the most basic ideas of society and individual meaning are lost. –Amazon.com
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (fiction)
Mark Haddon's bitterly funny debut novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is a murder mystery of sorts--one told
by an autistic version of Adrian Mole. Fifteen-year-old Christopher John Francis Boone is mathematically gifted and socially
hopeless, raised in a working-class home by parents who can barely cope with their child's quirks. He takes everything that he sees (or
is told) at face value, and is unable to sort out the strange behavior of his elders and peers. –Amazon.com
10th Grade Summer Reading List
You will be required to read two books over the summer, one from the list below and The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Mr. Palmieri has copies of The Epic of Gilgamesh (ISBN 978-0-14-044100-0) for you in room 257. Please
pick up a copy from him or procure a proper edition. You should think about the essential questions provided
below as you read it. However, we suggest that you purchase your own copies so that you can take notes,
underline, or make comments in the margins. You will be allowed to use these books while completing graded
assignments in September, one of which will be a research paper on The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Essential Questions for The Epic of Gilgamesh
1. What are epic conventions and how do they help develop the theme in this tale?
2. Almost every culture in history has created an epic tale. Why? And, why do we still read them today?
3. What truly motivates Gilgamesh? What does this motivation say about humanity in general? Why is it
important to leave a legacy?
The List- Choose one to read in addition to The Epic of Gilgamesh
Sinclair, Upton The Jungle- Witness a young immigrant family as they are slowly ground down by a merciless society
that treats them as animals to be used up and discarded. While Sinclair’s main target was the industry’s appalling labor
conditions, the reading public was most outraged by the disgusting filth and contamination in American food that his
novel exposed. As a result, President Theodore Roosevelt demanded an official investigation, which quickly led to the
passage of the Pure Food and Drug laws.
Heller, Joseph Catch 22- The modern classic black comedy that satirizes the absurdity of war. Echoes of Yossarian, the
bombardier who was too smart to die but not smart enough to find a way out of his predicament, could be heard
throughout the counterculture. As a result, it's impossible not to consider Catch-22 to be something of a period piece. But
40 years on, the novel's undiminished strength is its looking-glass logic. Again and again, Heller's characters demonstrate
that what is commonly held to be good, is bad; what is sensible, is nonsense.
Kesey, Ken One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest- Cowed by sadistic Nurse Ratched, the inmates of a mental hospital are
galvanized by a new patient, the free-spirited McMurphy, who enters a pitched battle of wills with the nurse. Critics are
divided on the meaning of the book: Is it a tale of good vs. evil, sanity over insanity, or humankind trying to overcome
repression amid chaos? Whichever, it is a great read.
O’Connor, Edwin The Last Hurrah- O'Connor's 1956 account of big-city politics, inspired by the career of longtime
Boston Mayor James M. Curley, portrays its Irish-American political boss as a demagogue and a rogue who nonetheless
deeply understands his constituents. It’s simply the best book ever written about Irish Politics in Boston.
Autobiography of Malcolm X- One of the most important spokesmen for the Civil Rights movement of the sixties went
through significant changes in his philosophy, which may have led to his assassination. Malcolm X's searing memoir
belongs on the small shelf of great autobiographies. The reasons are many: the blistering honesty with which he recounts
his transformation from a bitter, self-destructive petty criminal into an articulate political activist, the continued relevance
of his militant analysis of white racism, and his emphasis on self-respect and self-help for African Americans. And there's
the vividness with which he depicts black popular culture--try as he might to criticize those lindy hops at Boston's
Roseland dance hall from the perspective of his Muslim faith, he can't help but make them sound pretty wonderful.
Morrison, Toni Sula- As girls, Nel and Sula are the best of friends who find in each other a kindred spirit to share in each
girl's loneliness and imagination. When they meet again as adults, it's clear that Nel has chosen a life of acceptance and
accommodation, while Sula must fight to defend her seemingly unconventional choices and beliefs.
Kingsolver, Barbara Pigs in Heaven- Taylor illegally adopts Turtle to save her from a life of abuse. However, Anawake
Fourkiller, a lawyer, insists Turtle be returned to the Cherokee Nation. Kingsolver makes the reader understand and
sympathize with both sides of the controversy, as she contrasts Taylor's inalterable mother's love with Annawake's
determination to save Turtle from the stigmatization she can expect from white society.
Amy Tan, The Bonesetter's Daughter- This novel is divided into two major stories. The first is about Ruth, a ChineseAmerican woman living in San Francisco. She worries that her elderly mother, LuLing, is gradually becoming more and
more demented. LuLing seems increasingly forgetful, and makes bizarre comments about her family and her own past.
The second major story is that of LuLing herself, as written for Ruth. Several years earlier, LuLing had written out her life
story in Chinese. Ruth arranges to have the document translated. Once Ruth learns the details of her mother's past in
china, she gains a new understanding of her mother and her seemingly erratic behavior. Answers to both women's
problems unfold as LuLing's story is finally revealed in its entirety. Like much of her work, this novel deals with the
relationship between an American-born Chinese woman and her immigrant mother.
Herbert, Frank Dune- This Hugo and Nebula Award winner tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis, the
focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the "spice of
spices." Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it
wields great influence.
Golding, William The Inheritors- Eight Neanderthals encounter another race of beings like themselves, yet strangely
different. This new race, Homosapiens, fascinating in their skills and sophistication, terrifying in their cruelty, sense of
guilt, and incipient corruption, spell doom for the more gentle folk whose world they will inherit.
Crane, Stephen The Red Badge of Courage- Is this really about Courage? Is the protagonist really courageous? Crane’s
novel was published as a complete work in 1895 and quickly became the benchmark for modern anti-war literature.
Although the exact battle is never identified, Crane based this story of a soldier’s experiences during the American Civil
War on the 1863 Battle of Chancellorsville. Many veterans, both Union and Confederate, praised the book’s accurate
representation of war, and critics consider its stylistic strength the mark of a literary classic.
Wouk, Herman The Caine Mutiny- The story of a rebellion in the modern navy. Upon its original publication in 1951, this
Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was immediately embraced as one of the first serious works of fiction to help readers grapple
with the human consequences of World War II. In the intervening half-century, Herman Wouk's boldly dramatic,
brilliantly entertaining story of life-and mutiny-on a Navy warship in the Pacific theater has achieved the status of a
modern classic.
Knowles, John A Separate Peace- The volatile world of male adolescence provides the backdrop for Knowles' engrossing
tale of love, hate, war, and peace. Sharing a room at Devon, an exclusive New England prep school, in the summer prior
to World War II, Gene and Phineas form a complex bond of friendship that draws out both the best and worst
characteristics of each boy and leads ultimately to violence, a confession, and the betrayal of trust.
McCourt, Frank Angela’s Ashes- Born in Brooklyn in 1930 to recent Irish immigrants Malachy and Angela McCourt,
Frank grew up in Limerick after his parents returned to Ireland because of poor prospects in America. It turns out that
prospects weren't so great back in the old country either--not with Malachy for a father. A chronically unemployed and
nearly unemployable alcoholic, he appears to be the model on which many of our more insulting cliches about drunken
Irish manhood are based. Mix in abject poverty and frequent death and illness and you have all the makings of a truly
difficult early life. Fortunately, in McCourt's able hands it also has all the makings for a compelling memoir.
Remarque, Erich All Quiet on the Western Front- 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.
Angelou, Maya I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (or any other title from her four part autobiography) In this first of
five volumes of her autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy,
and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a
great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These very lessons carried her
throughout the hardships she endured later in life, including a tragic occurrence while visiting her mother in St. Louis and
her formative years spent in California--where an unwanted pregnancy changed her life forever.
All students entering 11th Grade English must read Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Students must focus on the following questions while reading Ethan Frome:
How does the setting function as a character in the novel?
How does the novel characterize/criticize societal gender roles?
What are the essential symbols and motifs and how does each contribute to the work as a whole?
What does the novel seem to say about isolation and its influence?
In addition,
AP Language and Composition students must read a second book from Column A
Honors 11 and English 11 CP students may select a second book from either column
In Cold Blood
The Good Earth
Invisible Man
Gulliver’s Travels
The Awakening
Tender is the Night
True Notebooks (non-fiction)
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
The Inheritors
There Are No Children Here (non-fiction)
My Old Man and the Sea (non-fiction)
A Walk in the Woods (non-fiction)
If I Die in a Combat Zone (non-fiction)
The Inheritors
The following is a list of descriptions of the selections
In Cold Blood—by Truman Capote—This "nonfiction novel" about the brutal slaying of the Clutter family by two would-be robbers
has been called “a true masterpiece of creative nonfiction.”
The Good Earth—by Pearl S. Buck—“I can only write what I know, and I know nothing but China, having always lived there,” wrote
Pearl Buck. This moving, classic story of the honest farmer Wang Lung and his selfless wife O-lan traces the whole cycle of life: its
terrors, its passions, its ambitions and rewards. Buck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel—beloved by millions of readers—is a universal
tale of the destiny of man.
The Inheritors—by William Golding—Did you like Lord of the Flies? This inventive piece of fiction takes on some of the same
themes the author dealt with in that book, but in a surprising way. This time, the protagonists are the last of the Neanderthals who are
in deadly conflict with emergent Homo Sapiens for their survival.
Gulliver’s Travels—by Jonathan Swift—When Lemuel Gulliver finds himself in four very strange worlds, his misadventures and
deadpan comments become the basis for great satire. Swift would like the reader to take a hard look at what we call mankind and his
so-called accomplishments.
The Awakening—by Kate Chopin—A nineteenth-century American woman suffers the consequences she violates a taboo by leaving
her husband for the man she really loves.
Emma—by Jane Austen—Emma, raised to think well of herself, has such a high opinion of her own worth that it blinds her to the
opinions of others. The story revolves around a comedy of errors: Emma befriends Harriet Smith, a young woman of unknown
parentage, and attempts to remake her in her own image. By the end of the novel, Emma is wiser, and the reader has had the
satisfaction of enjoying Jane Austen at the height of her powers.
1984—by George Orwell—In a grim city and a terrifying country, where Big Brother is always watching you and the Thought Police
can practically read your mind, Winston Smith is a man in grave danger for the simple reason that his memory still functions.
Newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime—in 1984, George Orwell created a whole vocabulary of words concerning totalitarian control
that have since passed into our common vocabulary. More importantly, he portrayed a chillingly credible dystopia.
Tender is the Night—by F. Scott Fitzgerald—Written by the author of The Great Gatsby and set in France during the Jazz Age, this is
the tragic and haunting story of Dick Diver, a young psychiatrist whose career is thwarted and his genius numbed through marriage to
the wealthy Nicole Warren.
Invisible Man—by Ralph Ellison—A powerful, artistic representation of the dehumanizing pressures that have been put upon the
African-American, this story ranks with the best 20th-century American novels.
True Notebooks—by Mark Salzman—Salzman volunteered to teach creative writing at Central Juvenile Hall, a Los Angeles County
detention facility for "high-risk" juvenile offenders. Most of these under-18 youths had been charged with murder or other serious
crimes, and after trial and sentencing many would end up in a penitentiary, some for life. His account's power comes from keeping its
focus squarely on these boys, their writing and their coming-to-terms with the mess their lives had become.
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister—by Gregory Maguire—This retelling of Cinderella is a study in contrasts: love and hate, beauty
and ugliness, cruelty and charity. Villains turn out to be heroes, and heroes disappoint. The story's narrator wryly observes, “In the
lives of children, pumpkins can turn into coaches, mice and rats into human beings. When we grow up, we learn that it's far more
common for human beings to turn into rats.”
There Are No Children Here—by Alex Kotlowitz—Kotlowitz tells the true story of two young brothers who live in a gang-plagued
war zone on Chicago's West Side. The book's title comes from a comment made by the boys’ mother as she and the author
contemplate the challenges of living in such a hostile environment: “There are no children here," she says. "They've seen too much to
be children.”
A Walk in the Woods—by Bill Bryson—Returning to the U.S. after twenty years in England, Iowa native Bryson decided to
reconnect with his country by hiking the length of the 2100-mile Appalachian Trail. Awed by merely the camping section of his local
sporting goods store, he nevertheless plunges into the wilderness and emerges with a consistently comical account of a neophyte
woodsman learning hard lessons about self-reliance.
My Old Man and the Sea—by Daniel and David Hayes—Though the title is a take-off from the Hemingway classic, this is instead the
story of a father and son who designed and built a small boat together, then set out to sail it around Cape Horn. Along the way they
fought and swore and sweated and shared triumphs large and small. It is an engaging adventure, and a remarkable story of a father-son
March—by Geraldine Brooks—In her second novel, Brooks imagines the Civil War experiences of Mr. March, the absent father in
Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. An idealistic Concord minister, March becomes a Union chaplain and later finds himself assigned
to be a teacher on a cotton plantation that employs freed slaves, or "contraband." Brooks’s novel also includes March’s friendships
with Concord residents Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and drives home the intimate horrors and ironies of the
Civil War.
If I Die in a Combat Zone—by Tim O’Brien—O’Brien paints an unvarnished portrait of the infantry soldier's life that is at once
mundane and terrifying. If I Die in a Combat Zone is more than just a memoir of war; it is also a meditation on heroism and
cowardice, on the mutability of truth and morality in a war zone and, most of all, on the simple, human capacity to endure the
unendurable. CAUTION: Strong language and depictions of violence/death.
12th Grade Summer Assignments
College essay
Narrative (Orwell) essay
Read Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
Read Dickens’ Hard Times
Read Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five
Accelerated: College essay
Narrative (Orwell) essay
Read Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor
Read Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five
College essay
Narrative (Orwell) essay
Read Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five
Due on your first day of English class in September. Note that the college essay and the narrative (Orwell)
essay should fulfill the requirements of the Common App essay prompts.
Assignment: Write the rough draft of an essay on one of the following topics.
Common App Essay prompts:
The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in
your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test
scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using
the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if
you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)
Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would
be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same
decision again?
Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it
meaningful to you?
Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood
within your culture, community, or family.
Rule #1 of college essay writing: SHOW, don’t TELL.
Rule #2: Admissions counselors read hundreds of these essays. Avoid sounding like everyone else. For
instance, the Rudy sports essay (how I practiced and practiced until I earned my day in the sun), though
a reflection of personal development, has been so used that it has become trite. If you are going to use a
common experience, develop it in a unique way. Your choice of essay and the unique perspective of your
voice may be the deciding factors for admissions counselors.
NARRATIVE (ORWELL) ESSAY: Due first day of English class in September
LENGTH: 250-650 words
Everyone of you will write personal essays come next September—and periodically afterwards as you apply for
jobs, apply to schools, and enter the workplace. Many of these essays will take the form of something like the
following: (1) describe an incident in your life that helps convey your values and priorities or (2) describe a
time when you had to overcome some adversity. Questions like these are meant to help potential schools or
employers probe beneath the surface and see whether you have the qualities a particular college or company is
looking for.
Students who use personal essays only to brag about their accomplishments waste precious space, since most of
these are already listed on your application. Rather, the school or firm is interested in seeing whether an
applicant possesses qualities like self-reliance, awareness of the world, risk-taking, honesty, and sensitivity to
others to be a good colleague or the sort of student faculty members would like to have in their classes—and the
school would be proud to number among its alumni.
George Orwell is often considered the very finest 20th-century English essayist. His honesty, eloquence, and
clarity of vision about himself and the world make him an excellent model for students about to write personal
essays. Select from the choices below one that would convey a good sense of you—and write a loose imitation
of George Orwell, both to demonstrate your stylistic maturity and to provide you with a model essay you can
revise for the personal essays you will be expected to write in the fall. The point is not to sound like a stuffy,
British intellectual, but to create a thoughtful and poignant personal narrative that gives colleges a
glimpse of your individuality.
As you compose your essay, try to echo some of the typical qualities of his prose, such as sentence rhythm,
massiveness of impression, use of literary devices (metaphors, similes, analogies), emphasis on the senses
(especially sight and smell), and honesty about his limitations as a person and an observer. You might even try
to parallel his startling openings, which catch our attention and hold us in suspense about what is to come next.
1. Describe a childhood incident (or one from your more recent past) that continues to stir your imagination, or has
helped define your ethical values. You might want to dwell on sensory imagery as it helps evoke your past
thoughts and emotions—as Orwell does in “Such, Such Were the Joys.”*
2. Describe an incident in which you were forced to do something against your will, or where social expectations
made you uncomfortable, in the manner of George Orwell in “Shooting an Elephant”* or “Marrakech.”** Notice
the precise, powerful way Orwell uses similes, metaphors, analogies, and other devices to make the scene vivid
and compelling to the reader. Try to achieve some of the same massiveness of perception.
3. Using “Such, Such Were the Joys” as a thematic frame, write an essay in which you discuss some of the fears and
joys of growing up or of being a student and the importance of family and friends in helping you handle these
emotions. You might want to discuss the changes that have occurred in your relationship with school (or with
others) as you have matured, or you might want to explain how your goals have been refined over the years.
4. Describe an incident that has helped you come to some important realization about yourself, the world, or your
interaction with the world. For example, in “Such, Such Were the Joys,” Orwell came to realize the moral
dilemma presented to the weak in a “world governed by the strong: break the rules or perish.” What have you
learned about growing up as you make the transition from innocence to experience—and perhaps to “organized
*In the interest of saving paper, I have provided web addresses for “Such, Such Were the Joys,” “Shooting an Elephant,”
and “Marrakech.”