Summer Reading (Grades 9-12)

Secondary students will enjoy the vast array of literature presented. The diversity of genres, authors, and time periods will keep them engaged and learning all summer long.
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11 |
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On one level, Animal Farm is an allegory of the 1917 Russian Revolution, on another it's about rebellion against dictators around the world. Young people should be able to recognize similarities between the animal leaders and politicians today. The novel also demonstrates how language can be used to control minds.
Study Guide and Activities
Cannery Rowby John Steinbeck
Cannery Row
by John Steinbeck
Cannery Row is the simplest story. It presents a slice of the lives of the men and women who populate a strip of sardine canneries after the workers go home. Set on California's Monterey Peninsula in the days long before famed golf courses and resorts, this post-depression tale depicts of the life of an uproarious cast of characters.
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Crime and Punishmentby Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The roots of Crime and Punishment can be found in various episodes in Dostoyevsky's life. His original idea, a murderer's first-person confession, came to him during his prison term in Siberia - an experience that profoundly changed his political views and instilled in him a lifelong respect for order and authority.
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Ethan Fromeby Edith Wharton
Ethan Frome
by Edith Wharton
Ethan Frome has much to offer senior high school students. Because it is short and easy to read, they will be able to concentrate on its themes. All young people can relate to Ethan's conflict between doing what he thinks will make him happy and what he believes to be morally right. Most teenagers know how it feels to be pulled in different directions by the pressures of personal, family, and social responsibilities.
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Great Expectationsby Charles Dickens
Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens
Considered by many critics to be Charles Dickens's most psychologically acute self-portrait, Great Expectations is without a doubt one of Dickens's most fully-realized literary creations. It is also a meditation on the act of writing (as a book of memory) and the creative imagination, opening as it does with the young Pip (aged seven) in the churchyard, attempting to conjure up through sheer will, a physical picture of his (never-seen) parents by carefully studying the lettering on their tombstones.
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by F. Scott Fitzgerald

by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The novel depicts at time that Fitzgerald called the "Jazz Age." Ont he heels of World War I, the U.S. enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the 1920s as the economy took off. Concurrently, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol, fed the wealth of the bootleggers and promoted organized crime. Nick Carraway idolized the riches and glamour of the age, at the same time he disliked the unrestrained materialism and lack of morality that went with it.
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Hamletby William Shakespeare
Hamlet
by William Shakespeare
The enigmatic qualities of Shakespeare's Prince Hamlet make this drama an appropriate choice for high school students who can evaluate and analyze the complexity of Hamlet's situation, his motivations, and the choices and decisions he makes. Students are immediately intrigued by the play, especially if teachers introduce them to the complicated dilemma of Prince Hamlet before they begin reading. Once students are aware of Hamlet's tragic story, they are compelled to learn what he decides to do and the consequences of his decisions.
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by J.R.R. Tolkien

by J.R.R. Tolkien
Students enjoy this magical and powerful tale of a fantastical land, filled with spectacular creatures. They can explore complex literary themes, write creatively, and discuss the intricacies of a classic tale of good versus evil.
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Ironweedby William Kennedy
Ironweed
by William Kennedy
Ironweed is secondarily a novel about Albany. It is primarily a novel about survival -- about an ordinary man, a bum by his own admission, whose extraordinarily bad luck has brought him to rock bottom but also to the discovery, within himself, of an inner strength that he cannot understand.
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Main Streetby Sinclair Lewis
Main Street
by Sinclair Lewis
The novel examines the homogenizing influence of small town life, how it kills cultural diversity, and how hunger for money prevents its residents from pursuing insider interests. Main Street also deals with the struggles in developing a new relationship - whether private as in a marriage or public as with society - and the compromises necessary to adapt an individual personality to make the relationship successful.
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Douglass's narrative of his life as a slave lets readers feel the fear he has as a small child separated from his mother, allows us to experience with him the pain inflicted by undeserved whippings and weakness caused by too little food and too much physical exertion, and helps us understand not only the hate of the slave for the master but the sickness of hate that allowed human beings to keep other human beings as chattel.
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Instead of the folksy dialectical mastery Twain shows in other novels, his style in this book recalls that of Dickens, packed with setting and character description that makes 16th-century England come to life. Both authors share biting realism cloaked in humor, effective political commentary, and an uncanny means of creating pathos in the reader.
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The Red Badge of Courageby Stephen Crane
The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane
The Red Badge of Courage is the amazing Civil War story of a farm boy turned soldier. Henry Fleming is a young Union soldier struggling with the horrors of war and the destruction of lives and property. Over the span of a few days, Henry must decide whether he is courageous enough to remain in the war, or so cowardly that he must flee and hide.
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The Secret Life of Beesby Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret Life of Bees
by Sue Monk Kidd
Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina--a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love--a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
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Wuthering Heights
Wuthering Heights
by Emily Brontë
Wuthering Heights is a novel of revenge and romantic love. It tells the stories of two families: the Earnshaws who live at the Heights, at the edge of the moors, and the genteel and refined Lintons who live at Thrushcross Grange. Various power relationships involved with romantic love and vengeance are depicted in the novel.
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