Day and Boarding; Grades 6-12

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Summer Reading

Students in both Middle and Upper School have summer reading requirements, as specified below. Please note that all students have a School-wide reading assignment as well as other reading assignments for English and humanities courses.

Middle School

Books 1 and 2

Book 1

Based on your incoming grade level, for your English or Humanities class:

Grade 6: Pay It Forward: Young Readers Edition by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Click here to read assignment.
Click here for a helpful character chart you can use.

Grade 7: The Wanderer by Sharon Creech
Click here to read assignment.

Grade 8: a banned book from list provided here.
Click here to read assignment.

Book 2

One book of your own choice (that you haven’t read yet) in any genre and on any topic you are interested in!
Assignment for your free choice book:

We want to hear from you! After you read your book, send us a postcard letting us know what you chose and how you felt about it.

  • Write a few sentences including the name of the book, the author, whether you liked or disliked the book, and why. Make sure to sign your card!
  • Illustrate or decorate the other side of the card with something that represents your book or your reaction to the book.
  • Pop the card in the mail when you finish so we get them all by the end of August.

Incoming sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students will receive a blank postcard in the mail to use, so watch for an envelope from School.

Poetry Anthology Choices

The School-wide summer reading initiative is all about poetry!

Since music can be considered just another form of poetry, our Middle School teachers have put together a list of songs/artists that all speak to a specific theme. Please choose one (1) of the following anthologies that may be of personal interest to you, and please review the discussion questions here:

Mrs. Alito suggests: Music To My Eyes

Mrs. Fitzpatrick suggests: Colors

Mr. Gurick suggests: Bruce Springsteen

Ms. Houston suggests: Dreams of a High School Musical

Mr. Moore suggests: Protest Songs

Mr. Paige suggests: Relationships

Mrs. Shaffer suggests: Figurative Language, the Fuel for Fabulous Songs

Ms. Steakin suggests: Songs About Science

Ms. Taylor suggests: Things I Value

Ms. Vesnaver suggests: The Ocean

Ms. Wirsig suggests: Accepting Yourself

Mrs. Yarnall suggests: Growing Up

Each Middle School student is responsible for reading a total of two (2) books and one (1) poetry anthology for Summer Reading, but feel free to read many more! There are assignments to complete for each book and the anthology; they are separated by incoming grade level and can be found above.

Summer Reading materials can also be found on our LibGuides (from Meckler Library).


Upper School

School-wide Summer Reading: Poetry!

This year our School-wide summer reading initiative is all about poetry! Pennington faculty created anthologies of poems they believe you will enjoy. We look forward to discussing them with you.

Choose one of the following anthologies to read and think about before the start of school. Students and faculty will meet in groups during the first week of school to discuss the summer reading selections.

Students will be expected to engage with the poetry this summer through journal writing or other anthology-specific means. Links to these assignments are posted here with each anthology.

Once students have chosen an anthology, the student should email his or her selection (title of the anthology) to Jo Prockop, chair, Summer Reading Committee at jprockop@pennington.org.

Dr. Andrews, Dr. Heyeck, and Mrs. Kalkus suggest Poetry and the Planet. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Aubry and the Poetry Club suggest Be a Poet! Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Bouton suggests Here, Become Surprised by Joy. Please click here for the assignment.

Mrs. Bowman suggests What Have You Lost?, by Naomi Shihab Nye. Please click here for the assignment.

Dr. Castro, Mr. Chase, Mr. Anderson, and Dr. Henry suggest Poems of Exile. Please click here for the assignment.

Mrs. Cooper suggests Animals, Nature, and the Unseen. Please click here for the assignment.

Mrs. Cusack suggests Poems of Jewish Culture. Please click here for the assignment.

Mrs. Douglass and Mrs. Doughty suggest Social Micropoetry. Please click here for the assignment.

Ms. Eaton, Mr. Alford, Dr. Dolan, Mr. Ross, and Mr. Vogel suggest Sights and Sounds. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Epstein and Mr. Eckerson suggest Poetry and History. Please click here for the assignment.

Ms. Hall suggests Language of Flowers. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Harding suggests Ten Poems from Turtle Island. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Horsley suggests Chemistry Poems by Students.Please click here for the assignment.

Ms. Houston and Mr. McDavid suggest Drama Club Anthology. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Hutnik suggests Poetry in Song. The assignment is included with the anthology.

Ms. Jones and Mrs. Overhiser suggest You Go, Girl! Please click here for the assignment.

Ms. Kiser suggests Poetry about Sports and Athletes. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Leib suggests Dr. Seuss Poetry Anthology. Please click here for the assignment.

Mrs. Morris suggests Poems from Right Now: A Collection of Contemporary Poetry. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Payne suggests Poetry Out Loud: The Art of Performance Poetry. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Peeler suggests Unleashed: Poetry by Writers' Dogs. Please click here for the assignment.

Ms. Prockop suggests Guiding Actions. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Reilly suggests Carpe Diem. Please click here for the assignment.

Ms. Rossi and Ms. Balerna suggest The Poetry of Mark Doty. Please click here for the assignment.

Ms. Stern-Leaphart and Mr. DiGiacomo suggest Poetry of Social Justice in America. Please click here for the assignment.

Mr. Thompson suggests Poetry of Stephen Crane. Please click here for the assignment.

Ms. Uzupis and Mrs. Litzinger suggest Songwriting as Poetry. Please click here for the assignment.



Summer Reading for English Courses

English I, English I Honors, and English I/LC

Please note the special instructions for each course!

Required reading selection for all three courses: Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie

ISBN: 9780140157376

English I and English I Honors: Please click here for Summer Reading Preparation.

Note for English I/LC: This book is available in audio format from a variety of sources, including Learning Ally. If you are not a Learning Ally member, and/or you have questions about how to obtain an audio version, contact Susan Bradstreet at 609-737-6143.

English II, English II Honors, and English II/LC

Please note the special instructions for each course!

Required reading selection for all three courses: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
ISBN: 9780385486804

English II: Please click here for Summer Reading Preparation.

English II Honors: In addition to Into the Wild, read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Please click here for Summer Reading Preparation.

English II/LC: Please click here for Summer Reading Preparation. Also note: This book is available in audio format from a variety of sources, including Learning Ally. If you are not a Learning Ally member, and/or you have questions about how to obtain an audio version, contact Susan Bradstreet at 609-737-6143.


English III and English III/IV LC

Please note the special instructions for each course!

Required reading selection for both courses: Lord of the Flies by William Golding
ISBN: 9780399501487

English III: Please click here for Summer Reading Preparation.

Note for English III/IV LC: This book is available in audio format from a variety of sources, including Learning Ally. If you are not a Learning Ally member, and/or you have questions about how to obtain an audio version, contact Susan Bradstreet at 609-737-6143.

AP English Language and Composition

Required selections (read both as directed):

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
ISBN: 9780375725609

Thank You for Arguing (revised and updated edition) by Jay Heinrichs

ISBN: 9780385347754

Please click here for Summer Reading Preparation.


AP English Literature and Composition

1. Read The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

ISBN: 9780307387899

2. Watch two films of Hamlet: one being the Kenneth Branagh version, and the other your choice (Mel Gibson, Ethan Hawke, Laurence Olivier, or a filmed stage version).

3. Read another novel or play from the following list:

  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen
  • The Mask of Apollo by Mary Renault
  • Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  • The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston



English IV: The Beats and Their Influence

Required reading selection: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
ISBN: 9780451163967


English IV: The Empire Writes Back

Required reading selection: No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe
ISBN: 9781607961529

English IV: Finding Identity

Required reading selection: Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
ISBN: 9780807083109


English IV: Irish Literature

Required reading selection: A Long Long Way by Sebastian Barry

ISBN: 9780143035091

English IV: War Literature

Required reading selection:

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
ISBN 9781476764528

Each Upper School student is responsible for reading a poetry anthology for our School-wide assignment as well as other books for English courses. There are assignments associated with each book. Summer Reading materials can also be found on our LibGuides (from Meckler Library). To view the LibGuides page, click here.