Summer Reading List

Our high school Library Coordinator and English Language Arts teachers compiled these lists of recommended reading incoming Fall 2020 classes, but these are great summer reading suggestions for all!

summer reading



  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Scout Finch, the young daughter of a local attorney in the Deep South during the 1930s, tells of her father's defense of an African-American man charged with the rape of a white girl.
  • Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. Set in an Ibo village in Nigeria, the novel recreates pre-Christian tribal life and shows how the coming of the white man led to the breaking up of the old ways.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In early nineteenth-century England, a spirited young woman copes with the courtship of a snobbish gentleman as well as the romantic entanglements of her four sisters.
  • A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah. Ishmael Beah describes his experiences after he was driven from his home by war in Sierra Leone and picked up by the government army at the age of thirteen, serving as a soldier for three years before being removed from fighting by UNICEF and eventually moving to the United States.
  • Three Cups of Tea by David Oliver Relin and Greg Mortenson. Greg Mortenson recounts the experiences he had while trying to help impoverished villages in Pakistan's Karakoram Himalaya build schools for their children.
  • I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai. Malala Yousafzai describes her fight for education for girls under Taliban rule, the support she received from her parents to pursue an education, and how the Taliban retaliated against her by trying to kill her.
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth. In a future Chicago, sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group, and that the society she lives in is not perfect after all.
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare. (available in graphic novel) Shakespeare's tragedy about two star-crossed lovers from warring families has stirred audiences and readers alike and inspired other artists for generations.
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. The adventures of a mischievous young boy and his friends growing up in a Mississippi River town in the nineteenth century.


Choose one:

  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding. After a plane crash strands them on a tropical island while the rest of the world is ravaged by war, a group of British schoolboys attempts to form a civilized society but descends into brutal anarchy.
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. In early nineteenth-century England, a spirited young woman copes with the courtship of a snobbish gentleman as well as the romantic entanglements of her four sisters.
  • All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. Depicts the experiences of a group of young German soldiers fighting and suffering during the last days of World War I. 


  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Winner of multiple awards. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does-or does not-say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
  • The Fifth Season (Broken Earth series, book 1) by N.K. Jemisin. Hugo Award winner. Essun, masquerading as an ordinary schoolteacher in a quiet small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Mighty Sanze, the empire whose innovations have been civilization's bedrock for a thousand years, collapses as its greatest city is destroyed by a madman's vengeance. And worst of all, across the heartland of the world's sole continent, a great red rift has been torn which spews ash enough to darken the sky for years. But this is the Stillness, a land long familiar with struggle, and where orogenes, those who wield the power of the earth as a weapon, are feared far more than the long cold night. Essun has remembered herself, and she will have her daughter back.
  • Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. Twelve-year-old Sunny Nwazue, an American-born albino child of Nigerian parents, moves with her family back to Nigeria, where she learns that she has latent magical powers which she and three similarly gifted friends use to catch a serial killer.
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. Winner of multiple awards. As Will, fifteen, sets out to avenge his brother Shawn's fatal shooting, seven ghosts who knew Shawn board the elevator and reveal truths Will needs to know.
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. 2019 Printz Award winner. Xiomara Batista struggles with, well, most things in her life- her mother, her twin, and her place in the Catholic church. In the past, she’s used her fists to solve problems, as well as secretly writing poetry, but now it may be time to use those poems to fight back.
  • Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali. There are three kinds of people in my world:
    1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They're in your face so much, you can't see them, like how you can't see your nose.
    2. Misfits, people who don't belong. Like me--the way I don't fit into Dad's brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama's-Boy-Muhammad. Also, there's Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don't go together. Same planet, different worlds. But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?
    3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O'Connor's stories.

Like the monster at my mosque. People think he's holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask. Except me.



  • The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different--and far more satisfying--than he ever imagined.



  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. YALSA’s 2019 Top 10 Best Young Adult Fiction. Violently taken from her human home, Jude has struggled to navigate the dark world of the Fae. Jaded from years of being viewed as inferior for being human, she publicly challenges the wicked Prince Cardan and his friends, unleashing the prince’s wrath upon her and her sisters.
  • The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees written and illustrated by Don Brown. 2019 YALSA Nonfiction Award winner. Unwanted by their own country, unwanted by other countries, Syria’s refugees are between a rock and a hard place. Staying in Syria is far too dangerous – violence is constant and pervasive. Leaving Syria is fraught with peril - crossing the desert, falling victim to con artist smugglers, and fatal journeys by boat.
  • Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover. 2019 Alex Award winner. Raised in an extremist family and barely homeschooled, Tara Westover decides that education is more important than family. Breaking ties, forging new relationships, and unlearning much of what she’s grown up "knowing" prove to be nearly insurmountable. This stirring memoir shows that ignorance is not bliss, and that knowledge is power.
  • Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. William C. Morris Debut YA Award winner. Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
  • Any Book written by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Any Book written by Erik Larrson



  •  Outliers: the story of success by Malcolm Gladwell. The author explores why some people are high achievers and others are not, citing culture, family, and upbringing as possible reasons some people are not as successful as others.


  • How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster (digital copy in Google Classroom, code qhfxwf5)
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Set in the near future, America has become a puritanical theocracy and Offred tells her story as a Handmaid under the new social order.
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. In this brand new prequel to the Hunger Games series, learn about Corialanus Snow’s background and how different the Hunger Games were in the beginning.
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. #1 New York Times bestseller, Wall Street Journal Best Book of the Year, and soon to be a movie starring Dakota and Elle Fanning. Two sisters in Nazi-occupied France, one who stays home with her daughter and has a Nazi soldier billeted with her and one who rescues downed pilots and brings them across enemy lines to safety. A heart-wrenching read like all of Kristin Hannah’s books.
  • I Hunt Killers series by Barry Lyga. Winner of several awards. 17 year old Jazz was raised by the world’s most notorious serial killer but is trying to live a “normal” life now that his father is in prison. When a body is found in his small town, Jazz is worried that people will think it was him so he feels compelled to find the killer. All 3 books in this series were really hard to put down, even though I don’t typically read gory mysteries.
  • Any Book written by Jason Reynolds, 2020 National Ambassador for young people's literature, New York Times bestselling author, a Newbery Award Honoree, a Printz Award Honoree, a National Book Award Finalist, a Kirkus Prize winner, a two-time Walter Dean Myers Award winner, a NAACP Image Award Winner, and the recipient of multiple Coretta Scott King Award honors. I have read Long Way Down and All American Boys, both of which were excellent reads.



  • Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable; illustrated by Ellen T. Crenshaw. Longlisted for 2019 National Book Award, YALSA’s 2019 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. Amanda “Mads” does not understand kissing. Kisses 1-7 were nothing exciting at best, and hardly tolerable at worst. Kiss number 8, with a girl, threw her for a loop. As her own experience runs parallel to a family history she knew nothing about, Mads discovers much about kissing, and herself.
  • Hey Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction by Jarrett Krosoczka. National Book Award finalist. Beloved graphic novel creator Jarrett Krosoczka tells the story of his childhood growing up with a mother addicted to heroin and how his grandparents’ support of his passion for art helped him survive.
  • #MurderTrending by Gretchen McNeil. YALSA’s 2019 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers. In the near future, the prison system has been replaced with a reality TV show--Alcatraz 2.0--that features staged executions of convicted murderers. Dee Guerrera becomes a sensation by accidentally killing one of the executioners--but how long can she survive?
  • March series by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. Coretta Scott King Honor book, Robert F. Kennedy Book Award winner.  A vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.



  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes.
  • Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough. In Renaissance Italy, Artemisia Gentileschi endures the subjugation of women that allows her father to take credit for her extraordinary paintings, rape and the ensuing trial, and torture, buoyed by her deceased mother's stories of strong women of the Bible.
  • The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones. When risen corpses called 'bone houses' threaten Ryn's village because of a decades-old curse, she teams up with a mapmaker named Ellis to solve the mystery of the curse and destroy the bone houses forever.
  • Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. Clinically-depressed Darius Kellner, a high school sophomore, travels to Iran to meet his grandparents, but it is their next-door neighbor, Sohrab, who changes his life.
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. Sherlock Holmes is asked to investigate the tale of a hound that haunts the lonely moors around the Baskervilles' ancestral home.
  • Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship's artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all.
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. Science fiction story about Todd. One month away from an important birthday, Todd learns all the tough lessons of adulthood when he is forced to flee after discovering a secret near the town where he lives.
  • Pride by Ibi Zoboi. A Pride and Prejudice remix--When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older
  • sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can't stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick's changing landscape, or lose it all.
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. In a world where dragons and humans coexist in an uneasy truce and dragons can assume human form, Seraphina, whose mother died giving birth to her, grapples with her own identity amid magical secrets and royal scandals, while she struggles to accept and develop her extraordinary musical talents.
  • Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee. Fame and success come at a cost for Natasha "Tash" Zelenka when she creates the web series "Unhappy Families," a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina--written by Tash's eternal love Leo Tolstoy.
  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. In a near-future New York City where a service alerts people on the day they will die, teenagers Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio meet using the Last Friend app and are faced with the challenge of living a lifetime on their End Day.
  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson. New at Ellingham Academy, Stevie Bell tries to both solve a murder at campus and the cold case of a double kidnapping.

More Recommended Reading: