Summer Reading (and Honors Assignments) 2021
Find your honors or regular humanities class below. Note that for some classes, you have a choice of books to read. There are downloads for some honors courses below with specific instructions for summer work—read these early!
In general, you should take some notes (annotations) as you read, paying attention to whatever seems interesting, surprising, or confusing to you. Unless instructions below say otherwise, you don't need to prepare any report on what you read; be prepared, however, to discuss the ideas in your book or follow up with some work when we return after summer.
For summer work and reading in honors science courses, select the science tab on the left.
Humanites 9 & Honors Humanities 9
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
This is a fascinating book for our ninth grade Humanities class because it will help us identify the role of "identity" in our individual and shared cultural histories. To some extent, we will always be part of our family's and local community’s history. That is something to celebrate. But we also have to grow. The main character in the story is flawed. His story helps us see how power is not always good, and how "pride comes before a fall.” Okonkwo (o-KON-kwo) is a local hero whose life changes dramatically when Europeans and their influence arrive in his village in Nigeria. We will use this story to help us recognize the role culture plays in shaping our identity and how we can learn from alternative cultures to celebrate diversity.
Students in Humanities 10 can pick any one (1) of the following five options for their summer reading book:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
… a 1925 novel by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. Set in the Jazz Age on Long Island, the novel depicts narrator Nick Carraway's interactions with mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and Gatsby's obsession to reunite with his former lover, Daisy Buchanan. This story, set in the Jazz age on Long Island follows the Nick’s adventures amidst the wealthy, jet-set life of his neighbor, Gatsby. Daisy is the main focus of attention for several men. The ride through prohibition is itself a trip. With the lives of all these vivid characters coming together, this is a page-turner. 200 pages
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi W. Durrow
Sent in the 1960s in Portland and Chicago, the story follows the tragic challenges of Rachel, whose family is torn apart when she is a young girl. Her "new life” with her grandmother and aunt shows her growth and then her sadness, and all-the-while she struggles to deal with the secret of her mother’s and siblings’ death. Rachel’s parents’ mixed marriage is the backdrop for this engaging story, and her personal history is both heroic and gut-wrenching. 240 pages
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
Teenage boys are cajoled into enlisting in the army by a “patriotic” teacher who constantly praises the former students who gave up their studies to step up to protect the Fatherland. Paul Bonner and his comrades soon end up on the front lines of WWI facing unimaginable horror. Their sergeant and big brother Katczinsky helps them deal with the terror, but they soon begin to lose friends one-by-one. This is an excellent story of growing up, and dealing with the reality of war. 200 pages
What is the What by Dave Eggers
At times harrowing, at times uplifting, this is the story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan. Achak is a young boy in a village in South Sudan when the marauding tribesmen of Northern Sudan attack his village. He is forced to flee to Kenya, where he lives in a refugee camp until he receives a Visa to travel to the United States. This "autobiographical" novel (I say "autobiographical," because while it is Achak's oral history, it is written by Dave Eggers) will have you on the edge of your seat as Achak escapes one danger after another. While you will feel the tension of his peril, you will be warmed by the strength of his spirit and the generosity of others. Multiple universities made this their required reading for incoming students between 2008 and 2010, and I can see why. Note: it is not short, but it is not overly long.
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
How would you like to live in an attic for months on end? Anne Frank and her family had to do just that, to escape the Nazis during World War II. She kept a diary of her experience that survived the Holocaust. It is both a warning of the depths of depravity humankind can sink to under the spell of an evil leader, and a celebration of the endurance of the human spirit. You can still visit the attic to this day (have you seen "The Fault in Our Stars?"). Note: this is a relatively short book, but it is packed with substance.
Honors Humanities 10
We will be grappling with the question, “Why have some societies been able to conquer others?” There are many potential answers to this question, which many thinkers across numerous disciplines have pondered. In the early part of our course we will be examining how the Pulitzer Prize winning author Jared Diamond went about answering this provocative question. Diamond’s theories are particularly alluring (and not without controversy).
Download the document below for your summer reading assignments, based on reading and annotating the prologue and two chapters of the book.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Honors Humanities 11 (Mr. Pyles)
Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson
Start by downloading the document below; there are numerous tasks you must complete this summer, including starting a Google Doc early in the summer to keep track of certain observations (revision history will be checked!), interviewing people about the past, reading and annotating Blood Done Sign My Name, and listening to some history-related podcasts. Again, all this is explained in the document below: read it at the beginning of the summer so you can plan your work.
Humanities 12 (Ms. Showalter)
Choose at least ONE (1) of these books. Read for fun and be ready to write/discuss/process what you read. You will want to take some notes as you read and spend time journaling about your response to the book when you finish.
Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid
A novel that is part love story, part war story, part science fiction. Nadia and Saeed meet and fall in love in a country that is falling apart. There is danger all around and being together becomes a challenge. Then word begins to spread that mysterious doors that allow people to be transported to unknown locations around the world are opening. How might that change relationships and societies?
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
A fast-moving, devastating flu virus shows up in Russia and spreads around the globe, essentially ending civilization. Those who survive must figure out how to move forward together or independently. The author creates story threads that tangle in interesting ways. Note: this one was written before Covid-19 showed up, and it’s pretty amazing how well she captures the anxiety of epidemics! Read this one only if you’re up for thinking about global pandemics and how they might change everything. Tense and gripping, it will make you think and give you some hope.
Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America, by Firoozeh Dumas
“In 1972, when she was seven, Firoozeh Dumas and her family moved from Iran to Southern California, arriving with no firsthand knowledge of this country beyond her father's glowing memories of his graduate school years here. More family soon followed, and the clan has been here ever since. Funny in Farsi chronicles the American journey of Dumas's wonderfully engaging family….” (from Goodreads)
The Tsar of Love and Techno, by Anthony Marra
“This stunning, exquisitely written collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts.” (from Goodreads)
Honors Humanities 12 (Dr. Keesee)
Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas Friedman
Download the document below for instructions on what to keep track of while you read this summer reading book. The document has some specific questions to consider as you read, and instructions for how to be prepared for assignments in the beginning of the school year based on the reading.
No summer work for 9th and 10th grade science courses.
See the course section page on the portal for any assigned summer work. If you don't see any work or are unsure about the work, feel free to email your instructor (information will be on the portal).
For new students, once you've logged into the portal, select the tab for "My Courses" near the top of the page, select your course, then choose the tab for "bulletin board" or perhaps "assignments."
Read and annotate Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses by Robin Wall Kimmerer (ISBN: 978-0870714993). We will use this book periodically throughout the school year. Yes, it’s about moss, but it’s about so much more!! By getting to know how mosses interact with their environment and provide amazing benefits for other living things, Kimmerer also addresses the disconnect modern humans in developed countries have from their environment. Can we learn to live in a web of reciprocity?
Click the link below for additional summer work requirements:
...for specific annotation instructions for Gathering Moss
...for an additional task
...for summer science current events expectations
Open the document below for your summer assignment for Honors Chemistry; much of this should be review.
Here is a note from your teacher, Mrs. Miller:
I hope you are enjoying your summer! I'm really looking forward to seeing you at the start of the year. Above you will find the Honors Chemistry Summer Assignment. Please let me know if you have any questions about this document.
Also, you are required to acquire a lab notebook for this course. I would like you to get one that has carbon copies like this example. You are not required to get this exact one, but please get one that has carbon copy pages that can be easily removed for submission when we do labs. If it says "carbon-less" that is okay, as long as it says it has duplicate pages.