Summer Reading 20-21


    The English Department encourages students to read over the summer.  Only English 9 Honors, English 10 Honors, 11 AP Language, and 12 AP Literature require students to read one or more  specific texts and complete an assignment either over the summer or at the beginning of the school year. (See the specific description for these courses below).

    All other English courses that are not AP or H levels courses strongly suggest that students select a book (or books) over the summer.  Below are specific recommendations by teachers in the English department as well as links to specific reading lists by genre and interest and level.

    Teacher recommendations that the school has to loan are starred.  Students should see their English teacher before the end of the year to take out a book as the ACHS LMC is not open over the summer however the ECPL has many of these titles available with your ECPL card .  


    Reading List Links:

    New York Public Library: Teen Book Lists

    Modern Library Top 100 Novels

    Modern Library Top 100 Nonfiction

    Suggested summer reading lists by grade

    Faculty Favorites:

    Mr.  Crock

    Far from the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy.* If you are a fan of Jane Austen, you might also enjoy this late 19th century romance set in the English countryside.  Unlike Austen, the romance takes some darker turns before the final resolution. (grades 11-12).

    Winter World, by Bernd Heinrich. This book is for those interested in the way the natural world works.  In the warmth of summer, you can read how animals and plants make it through the cold of winter--it will make your next winter hike a different experience! (grades 10-12).

     Ms. Sullivan

    The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown.  If you like “root for the underdog” stories or novels that are historically based, you might like this book.  Brown tells the story of an improbably successful 1930s University of Washington crew team over several years, bolstering the hopes of our whole nation following their journey during the Great Depression, and culminating in their quest for a gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Loved it! (grades 9-12).

    Ms. Fordham

    Born a Crime by Trevor Noah*  (grades 10-12) Noah’s memoir recounts his childhood days in South Africa. His stories made me laugh out loud one minute, and then gasp in disbelief in the next. You’ll want your own copy of this book, so you can share the stories with others and read them again and again.

    On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. In her second novel she tells the story of another family living in the Garden Heights community.  This story focuses on 16 year old Bri who wants to follow in her father’s footsteps by becoming the next world-renowned rapper. Bri’s journey to the top is filled with funny moments, plenty of frustration, and a few hard-learned lessons. (grades 9-12)

     Mr. Testa

     The Once and Future King by T. H. White (11,12) - The classic Arthurian myth retold for the 20th century. This was the inspiration for Disney’s The Sword in the Stone.

     As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (11,12) - Told through rotating first person perspectives, a rural family takes the long journey to town to lay their deceased mother to rest.

     The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett (9-12) - A classic detective novel where everyone is racing to acquire the priceless falcon. The road to the prize is not without danger.

     Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig (10-12) - Father and son set out on a road trip that quickly becomes both a mystery and a philosophical reflection on the nature of thought.

     The Day of the Locust*by Nathanael West (10-12) - Hollywood is a curious place where people go to remake themselves and anything can happen. In this novel, we see the slow unraveling of an East Coast transplant as he tries to deal with the insanity of California in the early 1900s.

     The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster (10-12) - An untraditional ‘trilogy’ that examines ideas of language and identity set against the backdrop of three thematically intertwined stories.

     Mrs. Rapp

     The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas (Grades 9-12). This book is for those interested in social justice. It follows the teenage life of Starr and her friends, the fatal shooting of her best friend Khalil, and the protests and conversations that follow.

    Pride, by Ibi Zoboi (Grades 9-12). This book is a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. The story follows one family with Afro-Latino roots, their new rich neighbors, and their rapidly changing neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.

     Mr. Rapp

    The Summer of ‘49, by David Halberstam - Halberstam’s book chronicles the 1949 pennant race between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees, focusing in part on the two major stars who drove each of the rival teams, Boston’s Ted Williams and New York’s Joe DiMaggio.  Halberstam’s book presents an engaging and fascinating portrait not only of the two teams and the two cities, but also of post war America as a whole and its love for baseball.

     Mr. Maxick

     Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr or, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon

     Ms. Godinho’s TOP FIVE

    Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On & Off the Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar & Raymond Obstfeld  -- In this autobiography, Kareem chronicles the various “coaches” in his life that helped him become not only one of the greatest basketball champions ever, but also an activist for social change and advancement.  Both inspiring and engaging, this quick read will leave a lasting impression.

    • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is for those interested in social justice. It follows the teenage life of Starr and her friends, the fatal shooting of her best friend Khalil, and the protests and conversations that follow.
    • Tangerine by Edward Bloor -- a young man is able to break away from his dysfunctional family and forge his own identity when he joins his school’s motley but gritty soccer team.  A book for anyone who roots for the underdog and for everyone who knows that when it comes to soccer, it’s more than just a game.
    • Speak* by Laurie Halse Anderson --  In the wake of trauma, a young freshman must overcome depression and anxiety as she navigates her way through her Freshman year of high school.
    • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline.  For Gamers and for 1980s lovers everywhere, this page-turner takes us to a futuristic world laid waste by neglect.  While the world falls apart, humanity has its collective heads deep in virtual reality, gaming for high stakes. When a challenge arises to compete for a prize that could reverse the decline of the world, players light up their avatars and the game begins, but will the amateurs have any chance against the corporate interests that dominate the game?  

     Mr. Thielman

    • Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Grades 9-12). A young narrator, Reuben Land, his nine-year-old sister, Swede, who writes epic rhyming poetry about a cowboy named Sunny Sundown, and their touched-by-God father take a quest through the American Badlands to track down Reuben’s and Swede’s missing brother. It is a touching, heroic, and magical journey.
    • His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman (Grades 9-12). A sweeping fantasy series featuring the adventurous heroine, Lyra Belacqua, who teams up with witches, a battle-hardened armored polar bear, crafty canal-faring nomads, and an aeronaut to solve the mystery of missing children.



    Advanced Placement Language & Composition (11th Grade)

    Summer Reading

    For your summer reading, you will read two books.

    The first book will be:

    How to Read Literature Like a Professor

    by Thomas C. Foster

    The second book will be your honors thesis book for next year.  This book was selected at the end of the school year and should not be changed without consultation with either Mr. Thielman or Mr. Testa.

    Writing Assignment

    Read your book carefully and take notes

    Then, write one essay of no longer than a page and a half in length double spaced

      • In the journal, you will apply the ideas of at least one of the chapters of Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor to your thesis book.  
      • Your essay should be a thoughtful application of the ideas from the chapter(s) to the novel as a whole.
      • Make sure to have a clearly stated thesis
      • Make sure to provide ample quoted material from both Foster’s book and your thesis selection.  This can’t be stressed enough.  We want to see that you’ve read and understood the entirety of both books. Be sure to provide proper citations with page numbers.

    Journal Submission:

    Your summer reading essay will be submitted to before September 8th.

    If you do not have the handout from the end of the year with the class ID and password, please email Mr. Testa

     If you have trouble creating or submitting your work, email:, however please do not frantically email me the last week in August.



     Everyone will read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In addition, you need to choose ONE work from each of the TWO categories below—pre-nineteenth century and nineteenth/twentieth century—for a total of THREE WORKS, and read them carefully by the beginning of the school year.  We recommend taking notes as you read, highlighting important passages, finding patterns and progressions—all the things you should be doing as you read for an English AP/ college course. Here are some things you need to know:

    • You cannot read any work from the list that you have previously read for an English class (Yes, we can verify what you have read from your past teachers).  Also, do not choose a book that you read for your 11H research thesis. However, if you have previously read a work from the list on your own (not for a class), you may choose to read it here as well.
    • You can only read ONE play from the two categories.
    • You will have an in-class writing assignment on all THREE works the first week of class.

           THE LIST of Works

    Pre-nineteenth century

    Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Simon Armitage translation)

    Beowulf (Seamus Heaney translation)

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare (play)

    As You Like It by William Shakespeare (play)

    King Lear by William Shakespeare (play)

    Henry IV, Part I by William Shakespeare (play)

    Othello by William Shakespeare (play)

     Nineteenth century/ Twentieth century

    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

    Emma by Jane Austen

    The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    The Awakening by Kate Chopin

    Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

    Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

    A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

    The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

    Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller (play)

    The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

    Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (play)

    Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain

    Far From the Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy

     If you have any questions, email Mr. Crock ( or Mr. Rapp (


    Reading Assignment for English 10 Honors Students

    Summer 2020

    Amherst Central High School

    Welcome to English 10 Honors!  In preparation for the first week of school, you will be required to read one book from the list below and complete a written log.  If you read your book choice thoroughly and take detailed notes using the guidelines, you will be taking an important step toward preparing for the exciting challenges in the course.  Having your own copy of the book will give you more freedom in annotating the text; however, if you decide not to purchase the book, you should be able to find a copy of the book at your local public library.   Relying on internet resources in lieu of reading the text is strongly discouraged.

    Book List

    The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

    A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines

    My Losing Season by Pat Conroy

    Instructions for the Written Log

    • Your written log should be typed and double-spaced, using Times New Roman font, size 12 (or something similar).
    • Include the following in your heading: your name, English 10H, Summer Reading Log, September 2019
    • Identify five significant quotes from the book. Select quotations that go beyond simply summarizing the plot. Select quotes that are essential to the development of a specific theme, character, conflict, symbol, or some other aspect of the book.  
    • For each quote complete the following information and use the list format below:

     Write out the quoted text using quotation marks.

    • Identify the page on which the quote can be found.
    • Summarize the context of the quote. If the quote reveals words someone said, identify the speaker and explain the context of the statement. If the quote is a descriptive passage, explain what was going on in the story at the time. Who or what was being described? This response should be about a paragraph in length (six to ten sentences).
    • In approximately one paragraph (six to ten sentences) explain why the quote is significant to the story as a whole. Do not simply repeat what was said in the previous response.
    • Repeat the steps above for each of the 5 quotes.

    Not handing in original work will be a HUGE stumbling block in English 10 Honors. Although social media and technology provide wonderful opportunities for collaboration (i.e. Google Docs), this assignment is not one of those opportunities. The summer reading is intended, in part, to measure how prepared you are to read and analyze a specific text. You are expected to hand in original work that reflects your effort and ability.

    Avoid the following common errors:

      • handing in rough drafts instead of your final polished work
      • relying heavily on internet resources to complete the assignment
      • not using the assigned format
      • using quotes that are redundant
      • using quotes from only one section of the book or quotes that don’t demonstrate your understanding of the entire book
      • paraphrasing and/or summarizing quotes instead of analyzing and discussing why the quote is significant

    Your word-processed log will be submitted via during the first week of school. Assignments that are not turned in by the due date will receive a zero. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  Email:

    2020 Summer Reading

    English 9 Honors

    We want to place the emphasis of summer reading on the reading itself.  So, task number one: read a book you like this summer. The book should be high school level, fiction or nonfiction, and it should be a book you have not already read.  

    Task number two is to write a page about the book extolling one of the book’s virtues.  Do not spend much of your writing explaining what the book is about as any reader can easily look that information up online.  Instead, choose one thing about the book that you liked and write about that thing specifically. Convince us that you paid attention when you read and you thought about this task by using specific details from the reading.  Also, write for an audience who loves to read, and write as a reader who personally enjoyed the reading. We should sense your excitement and enthusiasm about the book without being told explicitly, “I am enthusiastic about this book.”  Blah. Be engaging.

     Requirements for the Writing:

    • Type your writing
    • Use a professional font style (Georgia, for instance) and size (12)
    • Double space the entire document, including the heading
    • Include a heading on the left margin, and please follow this format:

    Your Name

    Your Instructor’s Name


    Date (spell out the month, please)

    • Title your writing something that will entice the reader
    • Center your title
    • Write no more than a page (just the front of a page); no exceptions
    • Early in your writing, identify the author and title
    • Organize your writing - you do not need multiple paragraphs, but the writing should have a beginning, middle, and end
    • Edit to eliminate errors and to impress upon your reader that you care about the writing
    • Write a page that you are proud to share, one that reveals your voice as a writer and your thoughts as a reader
    • Check out the first few lines of the model response below
    • Complete the work independently

     Questions? Contact Mrs. Rapp ( or Mr. Thielman (

    The writing is due on the first Friday of the school year

    Sam Taylor - example

    Mr. Thielman

    English 9 Honors

    September 8, 2020

    Untamed Poet of the Midwest

    What I loved most about Peace Like a River by Leif Enger is the narrator’s precocious little sister, Swede.  Swede, an incredibly smart and feisty nine-year-old, writes epic rhyming poems about a heroic cowboy, Sunny Sundown, whose adventures parallel those of her brother Davy.  Her poems are so good I had trouble at first with Swede because I thought she was too smart for a nine-year-old, but Enger does a really good job of making her character believable.