Summer Reading 2020

  • “We read to know we are not alone.” ~ C. S. Lewis

    Why Summer Reading?

    Encouraging reading over the summer can help avoid what experts call the “summer slide.” This refers to the loss of learning that occurs over the course of a summer, and it is more dramatic than you might think.  Studies show that choosing to read in the summer may be the difference between the college-bound student and the non-college bound student.  Reading just one book over the course of the summer can minimize the “summer slide,” and keep you on track to reach your potential.

    islma Lincoln Award Check out the Abraham Lincoln Award Illinois High School Readers’ Choice Awards, or even the New York Times Best-Sellers List.  The New York Times even has a Young Adult Best Sellers List.  The important thing is to find a book that appeals to you, and spend some time this summer reading.  As Oscar Wilde observed, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”

    Feel free to browse our new digital library at OverDrive, to check out these titles and read them on the go. Learn more about our digital library and how to access it here.

    Pick a book and enjoy your summer!

    Required Summer Reading:

    Some English classes require a specific summer reading book.  Those courses are 108, 208, 319, and 419.  The books are listed below.  For this year, we are asking that students read the book(s) over the summer; they will be asked to complete assignments pertaining to the books upon return in the fall.  Assignments may include, but are not limited to, objective tests, essays, passage analysis, etc.

    2020 Required Summer Reading – Honors/AP Students

    Students who are taking E108 Honors Freshmen English will be reading The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.  Please scroll below to see the E108 Summer Reading Assignment.

    Students who are taking E208 Honors Sophomore English will be reading Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.

    Students enrolled in E319 AP Language and Composition will read The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea and Hiroshima by John Hersey.  Please scroll below to see the E319 Summer Reading Assignments/Expectations.

    Students taking E419 AP Literature and Composition will be reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  Please scroll below for the E419 Summer Reading Assignment.

    The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

    E108 Freshman Honors English

    Mr. Curtin

    Mrs. Peterson

    Ms. Posetelli

    The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

    A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over--and see everything anew.

    The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry has a little bit of mystery and a little bit of romance but is at its core a love story: love of books, love of family, love of community. It is as enchanting a book as you will read this year.


    The Storied Life of AJ Fikry references short stories that we will be using in our curriculum this fall. When reading, consider setting, motifs, author’s purpose, and your own journey as a reader. If you have already learned annotation strategies, feel free to annotate, but it is not required and it will not be graded. We will discuss annotation strategies when we get to our short story unit.                             

    Fall 2020 The Storied Life of AJ Fikry Assignments: 

    1. Finished reading the novel (Please complete before the first day of class)
    2. Socratic Seminar Discussion Questions (NOT required to complete before the first day of class, but they're posted HERE for reference).
    3. Socratic Seminar (conducted in class) 

    What is a Socratic Seminar? 

    A Socratic Seminar is a formal, student-lead, graded discussion based on the text. Students can prepare for the Socratic Seminar by thoroughly responding to the discussion questions and providing textual evidence when necessary.  During a Socratic Seminar, students are expected to demonstrate their depth of understanding of the text while using their notes and their book to support their responses.  

    When school begins and prior to the Socratic Seminar, students will learn about and practice effective discussion skills such as posing open-ended questions, responding to open-ended questions, drawing connections, expanding on other student comments, respectfully providing alternate or contradicting perspectives, and supporting thoughtful responses with textual evidence. Students will also have time during the first week of class to respond to the questions. 

    The Socratic Seminar grade will be based on two parts: student's written responses and student's oral participation in the discussion.

    E208 English 2/Honors

    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

    Fahrenheit 451 Book Summary: “Ray Bradbury's internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of 20th-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future. Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family". But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life” (Amazon).

    Dystopian Elements Handout

    Ms. Bingham
    Mrs. Micheletto
    Mrs. Serafini

    If you would like to have digital access to this information, please join our Incoming E208 Summer Reading Schoology Group. Access Code: 4T34-Q9TT-R3M6X

    You must have the novel completed before returning to school.  Bradbury employs the use of figurative language in his writing throughout the entire novel, allowing you to easily identify literary devices.  As you read, annotate the text, identifying literary devices and connecting them to theme and/or author's purpose.  In addition, annotate for the dystopian elements listed in the attached handout.  While reading, keep the following questions in mind:

    • What are the dangers involved when a large population is controlled by a smaller group that is in power?
    • Can fiction reveal truth?
    • How do you define censorship?
    • What connections can you make between the society in Bradbury's novel and our current society?
    • How does literature serve as a vehicle for social change?


    Fall 2020 Fahrenheit 451 Assignments: When we return to school, you will engage in the following assignments/assessments:

    1. Multiple Choice Reading Comprehension Test
    2. In-class Essay
    3. Passage Analysis Assessment


    Incoming E319

    Greetings, Scholars!  As Honor’s levels students, many of you are already familiar with the general summer reading expectations.  Our ongoing struggle to keep social distance, however, has disrupted those plans.  Over the summer we are asking that your read and annotate two texts: Hiroshima by John Hersey, and The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea.  You are expected only to read and annotate; you will not be required to craft any formal writing to be handed in upon the start of the school year. We have created a Schoology group where we will be posting information about the readings and resources.  It will also serve as a hub for people to ask questions, check-in for updates, and share reactions.  The access code for our AP Summer Lang Reading 2020 is R7KK-TJJW-T96SR.  The texts are:

    The Devil's Highway


    “In May 2001, a group of men attempted to cross the Mexican border into the desert of southern Arizona, through the deadliest region of the continent, the ‘Devil's Highway.’ Three years later, Luis Alberto Urrea wrote about what happened to them. The result was a national bestseller, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, a ‘book of the year’ in multiple newspapers, and a work proclaimed as a modern American classic.” – Amazon 

    E319 Summer Reading Rhetorical Analysis Packet






    Hiroshima John Hersey “On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by the first atom bomb ever dropped on a city. This book, John Hersey's journalistic masterpiece, tells what happened on that day. Told through the memories of survivors, this timeless, powerful and compassionate document has become a classic "that stirs the conscience of humanity" (The New York Times).

    “Almost four decades after the original publication of this celebrated book, John Hersey went back to Hiroshima in search
     of the people whose stories he had told.  His account of what he discovered about them is now the eloquent and moving final chapter of Hiroshima.”  (Courtesy of Amazon)

    While reading The Devil’s Highway and Hiroshima, focus your analysis on the rhetorical triangle: what can you tell about the speaker of the text, who do you think his intended audience is, and what is his purpose throughout the book? To help you figure out these major areas of analysis, consider the following specific questions as you read in order to track the rhetoric:

    • What does the author try to make you think, feel, or do?
    • What diction (word choice) and syntax (sentence structures) does he use to help impact the audience?
    • What appeals does he rely on to help convince the audience (logos, ethos, pathos)?
    • Where do we see the author utilizing imagery and anecdotes (illustrative stories) to help achieve his purpose?
    • What tone(s) does the author use to write the book?
      • Does it change in places throughout the text?
      • If so, how?
        • What is the effect of the shift?
    • Does the author seem to be balanced or biased in his narration?
    • What is the author trying to argue by the end of the text?  How/where can you tell so?
    • (How) does the author address any contrary or opposing perspectives? (Counterargument)

    Additional information if needed can be located on Schoology.


    Upon our return to school, you should be prepared to:

    1. Participate in discussion regarding the texts
    2. Write an in-class essay responding to Hiroshima
    3. Compose an informal analysis of significant quotes from The Devil’s Highway

    Instructor contact information:


    The Kite Runner

     E419 Advanced Placement Literature and Composition

    Mrs. Gilkey

    Mr. Micheletto

    If you would like to have digital access to this information, please join our AP Lit Summer Reading Schoology Group. Access Code: NS76-3QKB-SMCQW

    The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    Book Summary:

    Amir is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant, a member of the ruling caste of Pashtuns. Hassan, his servant and constant companion, is a Hazara, a despised and impoverished caste. Their uncommon bond is torn by Amir's choice to abandon his friend amidst the increasing ethnic, religious, and political tensions of the dying years of the Afghan monarchy, wrenching them far apart. But so strong is the bond between the two boys that Amir journeys back to a distant world, to try to right past wrongs against the only true friend he ever had.  Summer Reading Assignment/Instructions

    Elements from The Kite Runner will infuse many of the other works in the 419 curriculum. Be advised that you must have the novel completed before returning to school. When reading, think in terms of motifsallusionsarchetypessymbols, and social issues, as well as the rhetorical strategies learned in English 319. In addition, consider the following points as you read and mark the text. We will be using the points below to drive our discussions and analysis:

    • Trace the psychological progress of the main characters in the story. How are their private lives shaped by the larger forces of history or culture?
    • Consider Hosseini’s narrative style in the novel and the importance of connecting past and present.
    • Explore the political and religious themes in the novel.
    • Analyze the novel as a Bildungsroman (coming-of-age) story. 
    • Consider the ideas of trauma, guilt, and redemption.
    • How does Hosseini use literary elements/devices, especially symbolism, to reflect important themes or ideas in the novel?

    Fall 2020 Kite Runner Assignments: When we return to school, you will engage in the following assignments/assessments:

    1. Multiple Choice Reading Comprehension Test
    2. 2 Practice AP Open Ended Essays
    3. Socrative Class Discussions


    Books You May Enjoy This Summer

    For this summer, SHS is encouraging all students to pick a book and read.  For most students, there will not be a required reading book.  We’ve included some titles that students have enjoyed in the past, but the best book for summer reading is the book that is interesting to you. 


    The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein The Art of Racing in the Rain

     Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver. Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. Using the techniques needed on the race track, one can successfully navigate all of life’s ordeals. A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life…as only a dog could tell it.








    Esperanza Rising


    Esperanza Rising By Pam Muñoz Ryan Esperanza thought she’d always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico–she’d always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn’t ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstances–Mama’s life, and her own, depend on it.






    The Glass Castle By Jeanette Walls 

    The Glass Castle The Glass Castle is a memoir written by gossip columnist Jeanette Walls, which details he unconventional childhood growing up with an alcoholic father and a mother who seems to be mentally ill. Walls begins the book by explaining what has prompted her to write about her family: after she has “made it” and become a successful writer living in New York, she comes across her mother picking trash out of a dumpster and, in shame, slinks down in her taxi seat and pretends not to see or know her. Later, Walls con-fronts her mother, asking what she is supposed to tell people about her parents, and her mother replies, “Just tell the truth. That’s simple enough.”












    Lockdown: Escape from Furnace By Alexander Gordon Smith

    Lockdown Furnace Penitentiary: the world’s most secure prison for young offenders, buried a mile beneath the earth’s surface. Convicted of a murder he didn’t commit, sentenced to life without parole, “new fish” Alex Sawyer knows he has two choices: find a way out, or resign himself to a death behind bars, in the darkness at the bottom of the world. Except in Furnace, death is the least of his worries. Soon Alex discovers that the prison is a place of pure evil, where inhuman creatures in gas masks stalk the corridors at night, where giants in black suits drag screaming inmates into the shadows, where deformed beasts can be heard howling from the blood-drenched tunnels below. And behind everything is the mysterious, all-powerful warden, a man as cruel and dangerous as the devil himself, whose unthinkable acts have consequences that stretch far beyond the walls of the prison. Together with a bunch of inmates–some innocent kids who have been framed, others cold-blooded killers–Alex plans an escape. But as he starts to uncover the truth about Furnace’s deeper, darker purpose, Alex’s actions grow ever more dangerous, and he must risk everything to expose this nightmare that’s hidden from the eyes of the world.







    Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
    By Laura Hillenbrand

    Unbroken The inspiring true story of a man who lived through a series of catastrophes almost too incredible to be believed. From his delinquent childhood to the Berlin Olympics to World War 2, Louis Zamperini embarked on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown. Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a foundering raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would answer desperation with ingenuity; suffering from hope, resolve, and humor; brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would be suspended on the fraying wire of his will.









    Blink By Malcolm Gladwell

    Blink Blink is about the first two seconds of looking–the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of “thin slices” of behavior. The key is to rely on our “adaptive unconscious”–a 24/7 mental valet–that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or re-act to a new idea.









    City of Bones By Cassandra Clare

    City of Bones When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder—much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. Within twenty-four hours, Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know. . . .











    The Enemy By Charlie Higson

    The Enemy In the wake of a devastating disease, everyone sixteen and older is either dead or a decomposing, brainless creature with a ravenous appetite for flesh. Teens have barricaded themselves in buildings throughout London and venture outside only when they need to scavenge for food. When a mysterious traveler arrives and offers them a safe haven at Buckingham Palace, they begin a harrowing journey across Lon-don. But their fight is far from over—the threat from within the palace is as real as the one outside it. Full of unexpected twists and quick-thinking heroes, The Enemy is a fast-paced, white-knuckle tale of survival in the face of unimaginable horror.








    The Selection By Kiera Cass

    The Selection For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of a prince. But for America Singer, being selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself – and realizes that the life she had always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.









    Escape from Camp 14 By Blaine Harden

    Escape from Camp 14 North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk. In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence-he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother. Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.








    Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, looking for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.









    Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

    Monument Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong. In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart.  









    Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

    Peace Like a River Leif Enger’s novel about a father raising his three children in 1960s Minnesota is a breathtaking celebration of family and faith. Through the voice of eleven-year-old Reuben, Peace Like a River tells of the Land family’s cross-country search for Reuben’s older brother, an outlaw charged with murder.  Reuben’s dad, Jeremiah, leads the family in an unforgettable journey marked by tragedy, romance, and the unique magic that can be seen in everyday life.









    The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

    The Testing “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same? The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career. Cia Vale is eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies’ chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first trust no one. But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.