Ten Great Reads: Our Summer Reading List For High School

Although I’ve never been one to give my kids lengthy assigned reading lists, Kathryne requested a list from me this summer. She’s a 10th grader headed to 11th grade, and she wanted me to make a list of books that I thought would be good for her to have read in high school. After some research and considering books I’ve loved, I made a reading list for her. I tried to choose books of value- good literature, well-written, inspiring, classics that I thought would be worthwhile to have read. Here are my ten choices for her summer reading.

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The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis – one of Lewis’ classic apologetics books. It’s a fictional story of a man who is on the verge of entering into Heaven or being sent to Hell forever. The people he meets and the situations in which he finds himself are teaching tools for us as we consider our future souls.

The Chosen by Chaim Potok – This is a coming of age story about the developing friendship between two unlikely friends- a boy from a modern Orthodox Jewish family and one from a Zionist family. It is set in the 1940s in New York.

Confessions by St. Augustine– Confessions is considered a classic of Western literature. It’s St. Augustine’s account of his journey from humble beginnings to a rise in power and position, his struggles and temptations and his return to his faith after many years and after the patient prayers and encouragement of his mother. (The link is to a modern English version- easier to read because the original was written around 397 AD.)

The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer– This is another classic literary peace, but don’t let the size deter you from reading. It’s set in the 14th century and focuses on a group of pilgrims who are on pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas ‘a Becket. It’s a motley crew that travels together, and The Canterbury Tales is a collection of the stories the pilgrims take turns telling on their journey. There are stories of adventure and love, knights and ladies, heroes and villains. I’ll probably direct Kathryne to just a few sections because this one could take some time to read. But I read it in parts throughout my high school years and really enjoyed it.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee- I’m not sure how Kathryne has gotten this far without reading this classic, but we must remedy that this summer. The book is set in the Deep South in the 1930s. The heroine of the story is Scout whose dad is a lawyer. Scout and her brother Jim learn much about people and relationships and standing up for what’s right when their father agrees to defend a black man against the accusations of a white girl.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad– I read this novel in college and it was one of those stories that stayed with me for a while. It’s the story of Charles Marlow, an ivory transporter, and his journey down the Congo River in Central Africa. At the time- 1899- it was still largely unknown and unexplored. The book, like the title, is a bit of a dark read. Kathryne will enjoy that with her personality, but keep in mind that it’s a little heavy if you’re choosing it for summer reading.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card– This is the only one of the books I put on the list that I haven’t read, but it was recommended in several places. I think I’ll read it along with her this summer. From the Amazon description: “Intense is the word for Ender’s Game. Aliens have attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses — and then training them in the arts of war… The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of ‘games’… Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games… He is smart enough to know that time is running out. But is he smart enough to save the planet?”

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson- This is another coming of age novel that deals with coming to terms with who you are and your place in the world. Sara Louise Bradshaw has always taken back seat to her twin Caroline who has always seemed more beautiful, more talented, and more loved. It’s a fitting novel for any teen who’s caught in the identity crises of sorts that many go through.

Father Brown: The Essential Tales by G.K. Chesterton- I didn’t want to leave out something by G.K. Chesterton, as he’s a classic author well worth reading. I haven’t read all of the Father Brown tales but have read a few. The Father Brown Tales, written by Chesterton in the early 1900s, feature Father brown, an unassuming priest who ends up solving mysteries better than any detective. The stories are interesting and witty.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair- This is a dark and somewhat despairing read. But it’s a good commentary on the times, centering around an immigrant family who comes to America in the early 1900s and ends up involved in the meatpacking industry. The Jungle examines that industry and the social conditions and working conditions in industrial areas.

It’s not a comprehensive list by any means, but I think it’s a good variety and will give her some exposure to a few of the classics she’s likely to come across in a college literature class or hear mentioned in conversations about literature.

So you have any favorite classics? What would you add to a reading list? You can see some other suggestions for high school reading from the Schoolhouse Crew round up.

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Occasionally posts contains other affiliate links as well.

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