Recommended Reading

Reading is an important part of students’ lives, both as a component of our curricular requirements and as a healthy part of their intellectual growth. There are two lists: one for 4/5 MAG, and one for Grades 6-9. Students might choose books from this list for their “free choice” summer reading. Required reading selections and book analysis forms are listed on that page. Note that an asterisk (*) preceding an author’s name signifies a reading challenge. Enjoy!


Armstrong, William, Sounder

Burnett, Francis, The Secret Garden

*Byers, Betsy, Summer of the Swans

*Creech, Sharon, Walk Two Moons

Dahl, Roald, James and the Giant Peach

DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

Dixon, Franklin, The Hardy Boys (series)

George, Jean, Julie of the Wolves

Harness, Cheryl, Young Abe Lincoln

Hess, Karen, Out of the Dust

*Johnson, D.B. Henry, Hikes to Fitchburg

*Konigsberg, E.L., A View From Saturday

Lewis, C. S., The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Lindgrin, Astril, Pippi Longstocking

Lowry, Lois, The Silent Boy

*Naylor, Phyllis, Shiloh

O’Dell, Scott, Sing Down the Moon

Paulson, Gary, Brian’s Winter

*Steinbeck, John, The Red Pony


Particularly challenging books are starred(*).

*Aeschylus. Agamemnon: Tragic drama of a man torn by his loyalties as ruler, soldier, and husband.

Adams, Douglas. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A view of a world very unlike ours. Space at its best and wackiest.

Alexander, Lloyd. The High King: Final book in the series about the mythical land Prydain.

*Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: A heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written tale about a budding cartoonist who leaves his school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white high school.

*Aristophanes. Complete Plays of Aristophanes: The Clouds, The Frogs, and others.

Armstrong, William. Sounder: A black sharecropper and his family endure cruel injustice with courage and dignity.

*Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice: Social falsity and reliance on appearances are corrected in time to assure two marriages.

Avi. Man From The Sky: Jamie is the only witness to a thief’s parachute escape. Also by Avi: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

Azimov, Isaac. Fantastic Voyage: A team of doctors are miniaturized and injected into a patient’s blood stream to perform a delicate brain operation.

Babbitt, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting: Winnie’s life is changed forever when she learns the Tuck family secret. Also by Babbitt: The Eyes of the Amaryllis.

Bagnold, Enid. National Velvet: The story of a young girl and her dedication and love for riding; a classic.

Baldwin, James. If Beale Street Could Talk: Gritty study of black urban life.

*Balzac, Honore de. Pere Goriot: The story of an avaricious father, from Balzac’s immortal Human Comedy series.

Barrie, James M., Peter Pan: Peter Pan shows a group of children adventure and how to stay young in Neverland in this classic story.

*Bolt, Robert. A Man For All Seasons: Sir Thomas Moore’s fatal conflict with King Henry the VIII of England.

Borland, Hal. When The Legends Die: A Ute Indian boy is civilized against his will but finally returns to his native land to rediscover himself.

Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451: Montag, a fireman whose job is burning books, undergoes a conversion from book burner to preserver and joins the underground of “living books.”

Bray, Libba. Going Bovine: After being diagnosed with mad cow disease, 16-year-old Cameron sets off on a surreal adventure through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most.

*Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre: A dark mystery stands between a shy governess and unconventional employer whom she loves.

*Camus, Albert. The Stranger: This philosophical novel investigates the Frenchman Meursault, who, for reasons not immediately apparent, kills an Arab man in French Algiers.

Carter, Forest. The Education of Little Tree: The adventures and love of a boy and his grandfather come together in a powerful climax.

Carter, Dorothy. His Majesty, Queen Hatshepsut: Fourteen year old Egyptian princess Hatshepsut does not feel fortunate–she is a girl. However, she eventually becomes Queen regent of Upper and Lower Egypt where she serves successfully for 20 years.

*Chayefsky, Paddy. Twelve Angry Men: Locked in a hot jury room in New York City, a mix of men from different walks of life face their prejudices to fairly judge an accused youth.

*Chekhov, Anton. The Cherry Orchard: A once wealthy family, unable to cope with the onslaught of time, loses both pride and property in this Russian drama.

Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl, The Arctic Incident: The world’s youngest, brightest, and most dangerous criminal mastermind is back in this thrilling interpecies adventure full of magic, humor, and heart.

Collier, James. My Brother Sam is Dead: A Connecticut family is torn by conflicting loyalties during the Revolutionary War. Also by Collier: War Comes to Willie Freeman.

*Conrad, Joseph. Lord Jim: A young seaman commits an act of cowardice and spends the rest of his life struggling to atone for his error and to regain his self respect.

*Cooper, James F. Deerslayer: Natty Bumpo, a young hunter, lives with the Delaware Indians fighting against the Hurons and resisting the romantic inclinations of Judith Hunter.

Corbett, Scott. The Great McGoniggle Pitches: The latest adventure of Mac McGonnigle. Can he come up with a play to save the championship for his baseball team?

Cormier, Robert. I Am the Cheese: Adam Farmer, an innocent young victim, arduously attempts to find his father despite the mystery that surrounds him. Also by Cormier: The Chocolate War.

Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage: A study of fear as it affects the life and romantic presuppositions of a young Union soldier in the Civil War.

Craven, Margaret. I Heard The Owl Call My Name: A young priest, who is assigned to live and work among the Kwakiutl Indians, learns enough about life from them to accept his impending death.

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe: An island castaway and his native companion mix ingenuity and adventure in making a civilized life for themselves.

Deng, Benson et al. They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky: The true story of Three Lost Boys from Sudan.

*Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations: Pip’s life is changed by a strange circumstance. He grows to manhood expecting a great inheritance and marriage with his childhood sweetheart. Neither expectation is fulfilled. Also by Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities.

Doyle, Arthur Conan. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Short stories about the famous detective and Mr. Watson.

duBois, William P. The Twenty One Balloons: All America wants to know what is going on when Professor Sherman is found adrift in the Atlantic clinging to the remains of twenty-one balloons.

Duggard, Thomas. Soccer Duel: Leaving stardom on the football field for the challenge of soccer, Terry fights to master the new sport and his own hunger for the spotlight.

*Dumas, Alexander. The Three Musketeers: The friendship and adventurous exploits of four young swordsmen in 17th century France.

DuMaurier, Daphne. Rebecca: The mysterious atmosphere of an old English estate, coupled with the peculiar behavior of the housekeeper, arouses a bride’s suspicions about the death of her husband’s first wife. Also by DuMaurier: The House on the Strand and My Cousin Rachel

Eckert, Allan W. Incident At Hawks Hill: A tiny child lives for days and then weeks in a hole with a fierce wild badger.

*Euripides. Medea: The drama of a wife and mother who in seeking revenge proves how fine is the line between love and hate.

Farell, James T. Studs Lonigan: Depicts the rise of a classic American character. Lonigan battles his way up from the squalor of the Chicago slums.

Fast, Howard. April Morning: A boy’s growth to maturity during the fateful day of the “shot heard around the world.” Excellent historical fiction. Also by Fast: The Hessian.

Filipovic, Zlata. Zlata’s Diary : The diary kept by a girl living in war-torn Sarajevo, from 1991 (when she was 11 years old) to 1993.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby: One man’s search for self and desire to be accepted into a social class into which he was not born.

Forbes, Esther. Johnny Tremaine: Story of a young boy in Revolutionary Boston who gets caught up with espionage and rebellion.

Forester, C.S. The African Queen: Caught in an African jungle as German forces advance, a spinster missionary and a rough hewn boat pilot join forces to reach open water.

Fox, Paula. The Slave Dancer: A vivid portrayal of condition aboard an illegal slave ship in the 1840′s told by a thirteen-year old boy who was pressed into service. Also by Paula Fox: Western Wind.

Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl: The diary of a young Jewish girl in hiding with her family in Holland during World War II. An insight into the thoughts and emotions of this very real person.

*Gaines, Ernest J. A Lesson Before Dying: Jefferson, an uneducated young black man has been accused of the murder of a white storekeeper. Also by Gaines: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman

Gardner, John. Grendel: Beowulf from the monster’s point of view.

Gibson, William. The Miracle Worker: A deaf, mute, and blind child is taught the fundamentals of knowledge by a very determined young woman.

Greene, Bette. Summer of My German Soldier: A Jewish girl befriends an escaped German POW during WWII.

Griffin, John H. Black Like Me: After taking medication which darkens the skin, John Griffin learned first hand what it was like to be a black person in the deep South during the 1950′s.

*Gunther, John. Death Be Not Proud: John Gunther’s moving tribute to his son Johnny who died at the young age of seventeen while he was a student at Deerfield Academy.

Hammet, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon: Detective Sam Spade must track down the valuable statue, the Maltese Falcon, while avoiding treachery in San Francisco.

Heiligman, Deborah. Charles and Emma, The Darwins’ Leap of Faith: Heiligman’s biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind the theory.

*Heller, Joseph. Catch 22: War is the ultimate macabre comedy as Captain Yossarian and fellow flyers attempt to cope with ridiculous rules and regulations at their battle station on the island of Pianosa off the Italian coast.

*Hemingway, Ernest. The Old Man and the Sea: Tale of a Cuban fisherman’s quest of a gigantic deep-sea prize.

Herriot, James. All Things Wise and Wonderful: Further adventures of the Yorkshire veterinarian who wrote All Things Bright and Beautiful and All Creatures Great and Small.

Hershey, John. Hiroshima: A year after the atomic blast over Hiroshima, the respected American writer, John Hersey, wrote this moving account based on eyewitness reports.

Heyerdahl, Thor. Kon-Tiki: A Danish anthropologist constructs a balsa raft and sails it with a crew of five from South America to the South Pacific Islands.

Holman, Felice. Wild Children: Although life was supposed to improve after the Russian Revolution, Alex finds he must join a band of dezprizorni, a gang of homeless children, in order to survive.

Hosseini, Kahled. A Thousand Splendid Suns: A tale of two generations of characters brought jarringly together by the tragic sweep of war, where personal lives — the struggle to survive, raise a family, find happiness — are inextricable from the history playing out around them in Afghanistan.

*Hudson, W.H. Green Mansions: Romance and untimely loss in the South American jungles. Powerfully descriptive.

Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World: A future in a very different world.

*Irving, John. World According to Garp: Delightful, wacky story about a man’s life and the forces that make him what he is and how he deals with them.

*James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw: Perhaps the greatest ghost story ever written, this terrifying tale depicts an atmosphere of sinister evil, into which innocent children are drawn.

Juster, Norton. Phantom Tollbooth: Milo drives his electric car through a tollbooth and finds himself in an unusual land.

*Kafka, Franz. Metamorphosis: The bizarre story of a young man’s transformation into an insect.

Keyes, Daniel. Flowers for Algernon: Retarded, gentle Charlie has a short-lived experience with superior intelligence in this story about the abuses of unchecked scientific experimentation.

*Khayyam, Omar. The Rubaiyat: Translated by Edward Fitzgerald. A series of Persian quatrains dwelling on the beauties and satisfactions of a sensual life.

Kipling, Rudyard. Captains Courageous: The spirited son of a millionaire is washed overboard off the Newfoundland banks, picked up by a fishing schooner, and forced into the life of a seaman. Also by Kipling: Kim

Konigsburg, E. L. From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler: Claudia and her brother find refuge in the Metropolitan Museum of Art when they run away from home. Also by Konigsburg: A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver.

Lawrence, J. & Robert E. Lee. Inherit The Wind: Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan battle in court over the theory of evolution in the famed Scopes Monkey Trial.

L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time: A brother and a sister set off on a search for their father who is held prisoner on a distant planet.

*Lewis, C. S. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe: The back of an old wardrobe is the doorway to the land of Narnia. If you have read this one, read others in the Narnia collection.

Lightman, Alan. Einstein’s Dreams: A fictional series of short stories by of a young Albert Einstein as he works on his theory of relativity.

Lipsyte, Robert. One Fat Summer: Bobby Marks is about to find out just how terrifying and exhilarating one fat summer can be.

*Lodato, Victor. Mathilda Savitch: A girl’s battle for truth and understanding on the anniversary of her sister’s death.

London, Jack. Call of the Wild: The exciting story of Buck, a sled dog, who breaks free from his savage master to roam the Alaskan wilderness.

Lord, Walter. A Night To Remember: Supposedly unsinkable, the Titanic struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage and went down in the Atlantic in April of 1912.

Lorenz, Konrad. King Solomon’s Ring: Well written, amusing anecdotes and insights into animals by a famous naturalist.

Lowry, Lois. Number the Stars: When the Nazis begin rounding up Jews in Copenhagen, Annemarie and her family take in her best friend, Ellen Rosen. Also by Lowry: The Giver.

Lupica, Mike. The Big Field: Hutch, a star shortstop, must cope with playing second fiddle to a new team arrival. With the summer league championship on the line, just how far is Hutch willing to bend to be a good teammate? Also by Lupica: Travel Team

*Malory, Sir Thom. Le Morte d’Arthur: The life of King Arthur and related legends

Masters, Edgar Lee. Spoon River Anthology: A dramatic novel in poetic form

McBride, James. The Color of Water: Ruth Jordan battles not only racism, but also poverty to raise her children and, despite being sorely tested, never wavers. The story of Ruth and her son.

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible: A play based on the Salem witch trials.

*Mistry, Rohinton. A Fine Balance: Set in Mumbai, India, this novel follows four characters from varied backgrounds who come together and develop a bond.

*Moliere. The Misanthrope: Sharply incisive comedy dealing with human pretension.

Naylor, Phyllis. Shiloh: The moving story of Marty Preston and his rescue of a mistreated dog. Newbery Award winner.

Nordhoff, C. Mutiny On The Bounty: The story of the men who mutinied against the infamous Captain Bligh.

North, Sterling. Rascal: A boy’s memories of a year spent with a mischievous pet raccoon half a century ago.

Obama, Barack. Dreams from My Father: An autobiographical narrative of Obama’s life up to his entry in Harvard Law School.

*O’Brian, Patrick. HMS Surprise: The third installment in the Aubrey-Maturin series follows the Royal Navy captain and his physician/secret agent companion halfway around the world in a tale set during the Napoleonic Wars. Full of period language and naval jargon.

O’Dell, Scott. Sing Down the Moon: This is the story of the forced migration of the Navajos as told from the Native American point of view.

Orwell, George. 1984: Fictional totalitarianism; can thoughts be controlled? Also by Orwell: Animal Farm.

Paterson, Katherine. Park’s Quest: Park is determined to find out why his mother refuses to talk about his father who died in Vietnam eleven years before. Also by Paterson: The Great Gilly Hopkins and Bridge to Terabitha.

Paulson, Gary. Hatchet: Thirteen year old Brian is forced to spend fifty-four days alone in the wilderness with only the aid of a hatchet. Also by Paulson: Dogsong.

Peck, Robert. A Day No Pigs Would Die: Through the relationship with his hardworking father, twelve year old Rob learns to cope with the harshness of Shaker life and emerges a mature young man.

*Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar: The autobiographical account of the author’s teenage years and descent into madness and depression.

Potok, Chaim. The Chosen: Two Jewish boys of different sects meet in a baseball game and become friends in spite of parental rivalry.

Raskin, Ellen. The Westing Game: Sixteen people are invited to a reading of the strange will of the very rich Samuel W. Westing. One may be the murderer.

Reis, Johanna. The Upstairs Room: The author’s own story of growing up Jewish in Holland during World War II.

Remarque, Eric M. All Quiet on the Western Front: Classic war novel about a young man’s vision of and realities of war.

Richter, Hans Peter. Freidrich: Tragedy and terror suffered by German Jews made vivid by the simplicity and candor of a child’s viewpoint and by focus on one family.

*Rostand, Edmond. Cyrano de Bergerac : In this remarkable play, a dashing poet and would-be lover encounters problems because of his long nose.

Rylant, Cynthia. Missing May: After Aunt May dies, Summer and Uncle Ob are brought together in their struggles to come to terms with the death. This simple and sweet story, is injected with just the right touches of humor and mysticism. A Newbery Award winner.

Salinger, J.D. Franny and Zoey: The crises, triumphs, and tragedies of the Glass family. Also by Salinger: The Catcher in the Rye.

*Sartre, Jean-Paul. No Exit: An existentialist play by the esteemed philosopher. Three individuals are forced examine their own lives and each other while trapped together in a room.

Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis: An autobiographical graphic novel following the author’s childhood up to her early adult years in Iran during and after the Islamic revolution.

Shute, Neville. On The Beach: World War III has begun and ended and the last place on earth still habitable is Australia but only for a short while longer.

*Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle: Set in Chicago of the early 1900s, this story shows the terrible sanitary and labor conditions and exploitations in the stockyards.

Smith, Betty. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn: Resourceful Francie struggles against all odds to survive and thrive.

Snyder, Zilpha K. The Egypt Game: Melanie and April, who love anything to do with Egypt, are excited to find the perfect place where they can play the Egypt Game.

*Sophocles. Oedipus Rex: Man’s blindness is shown in this drama as the hero tries to escape the fate prophesied by the Delphic oracle and brings disaster to his family and country.
 This is one of Sophocles’ three Theban Plays, which also include Antigone and Oedipus at Colonus.

*Soto, Gary. A Summer Life: In these short essays, Soto recreates the sights, smells and textures of his boyhood neighborhood in Fresno, California. Also by Soto: Small Faces and Living Up the Street.

Speare, Elizabeth. The Sign of the Beaver: Matt is able to survive in the Maine wilderness because of Attean, a young Indian boy of the Beaver clan. Also by Speare: The Bronze Bow and The Witch of Blackbird Pond.

Sperry, Armstrong. Call It Courage: A boy faces a sea voyage single-handedly.

Spiegelman, Art. Maus: A graphic narrative account of Spiegelman’s father who survived the Holocaust as a Polish Jew, in which all people are presented as anthropomorphic animals.

Spillebeen, Geert. Kipling’s Choice: A moving, fictionalized account of John Kipling, Rudyand Kipling’s son, whose desire to live up to the family name threatens his very survival.

Spyri, Johanna. Heidi: The story of a young girl growing up in the Alps with her grandfather.

Staples, Suzanne. Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind: An autobiographical novel about a young girl’s coming of age in a desert in Pakistan.

Stead, Rebecca. When You Reach Me: Shortly after sixth-grader Miranda and her best friend Sal part ways, for some inexplicable reason her once familiar world turns upside down. Maybe it’s because she’s caught up in read A Wrinkle in Time and trying to understand time travel, or perhaps it’s because she’s been receiving mysterious notes which accurately predict the future.

*Steinbeck, John. The Red Pony: The story of a young boy who learns what it takes to take care of a young pony.

Stevenson, Robert. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Respectable doctor or brutal killer. Also by Stevenson: Kidnapped, The Master of Ballantrae, and Treasure Island.

*Swift, Jonathan. Gulliver’s Travels: A satirical fantasy of Gulliver’s capture by the tiny Lilliputians and later by the gigantic Brobdingnags. Finally he lives with the Houyhnhnms, rational horses who are the masters of irrational human beings.

Taylor, Theodore. The Cay: Stranded on a barren Caribbean island, Phillip finds himself totally dependent on the only other person on the island – an elderly native.

Taylor, Mildred. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: A Black family living in Mississippi during the height of the Depression struggles to maintain its integrity and independence.

*Thoreau, Henry. Walden: Chronicle of the author’s two year search for values as he lived alone at the edge of Walden pond.

Twain, Mark. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court: What it would be like to live in Arthur’s court coming from industrialized Connecticut. Also by Twain: Life on the Mississippi and Puddin’head Wilson.

Ullman, James. Banner in the Sky: Rudi is determined to conquer the Citadel, the treacherous mountain his father died trying to climb. Based on an actual ascent of the Matterhorn.

*Verne, Jules. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Join Capt. Nemo on this exciting adventure with monsters and beasts of the sea. Also by Verne: Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in 80 Days.

Voight, Cynthia. Dicey’s Song: In this sequel to Homecoming, Dicey becomes the parent and guiding spirit to the younger Tillerman siblings. Also by Voight: Homecoming,The Vandermark Mummy.

*Voltaire. Candide: An unlikely series of misadventures leads a young man to doubt his tutor’s belief that all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse Five: A man lives his life in a random sequence of events.

*Waugh, Evelyn. The Loved One: A satirical story of a famous Los Angeles cemetery and the family that runs it.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple: How it is to be poor, black, and female.

Wells, H. G. The Time Machine: The first and still great adventure into time travel. First published in 1895. Also by Wells: War of the Worlds.

Wiesel, Elie. Night: The personal account of a fifteen year old Jewish boy who survived the horrors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald.

*Wilde, Oscar. The Importance of Being Earnest: A comedy of errors; a hilarious story of mistaken identity that pokes fun at Victorian society and morals. Also by Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Wilder, L. Ingalls. Little House in the Big Woods: The first in a series of books chronicling the adventures, hardships, joys and sorrows of frontier life.

Wojciechowska, Maia. Shadow of a Bull: The son of Spain’s greatest bullfighter believes he has no choice but to follow in his father’s footsteps, although he would prefer to be a doctor.

Wolff, Tobias. This Boy’s Life: When his mother remarries, Wolff finds himself in a bitter battle of wills with his abusive stepfather, a contest in which the two prove to be more evenly matched than might have been supposed.

Wright, Richard. Native Son: A black man’s struggle against racism.

Wyss, Johann. Swiss Family Robinson: An English family is marooned on a deserted island where they salvage what they can from their wrecked ship, build a tree house, and set up a survival existence.

Zevin, Gabrielle. Elsewhere: 15-year-old Liz Marie Hall arrives Elsewhere after a fatal accident. She must learn to cope both with posthumous events on earth and with her new environment Elsewhere.

Zindel, Paul. The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds: A young girl tries to pursue her interest in science in spite of her sister who is only concerned with how she looks to the rest of the school, and her mother, who is too wrapped up in her own problems to encourage her daughter.