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Summer Reading 2019 Entering 12th Grade

Princeton High School - 2019 Senior Summer Reading 

All rising seniors must complete the following reading assignments prior to the start of school in September.  While no written work is required, students should read carefully and thoughtfully.  You may want to take notes or keep a journal to stay actively engaged.  All students will participate in activities related to summer reading in early September and will complete one or more writing assignments involving these texts.




All rising seniors taking AP English IV will read A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley.
In A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley offers a sweeping narrative exploring the American Dream, rural life, sibling rivalry, and existential crises. As the family patriarch agonizes over his legacy (the thousand-acre family land), his daughters engage in a rivalry that jeopardizes that same legacy.  Smiley adapts her tale from Shakespeare's tragedy King Lear, but her rich language and deep understanding of the bounty and burdens of modern life deliver Shakespeare’s drama to a contemporary audience.


All rising seniors taking English IV will read Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover.

Tara Westover is born in the mountains of Idaho to Mormon survivalist parents who homeschool their children, practice herbal healing, labor in scrap medal and prepare for the end times.  This shocking memoir, a #1 New York Times bestseller, tells the story of Westover’s transformation into an Oxford PhD while unflinchingly depicting the realities of abuse, mental illness, family ties and, of course, education.


In addition to the required text designated above, all rising seniors must choose and read one text from this list of eleven options:



One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories

This is an international collection of 23 short stories from a diverse group of world-renowned writers – all of whom share a talent and a desire to write engaging, provocative stories.


Disgracedby Ayad Akhtar

This is a 2012 play centered around a dinner party with four people from vastly different backgrounds. The play specifically raises questions about and addresses themes related to Islamophobia and the self-identity of Muslim-American citizens.


The Essential Rumi, Translations by Coleman Barks

This is a collection of poetry from 13th century Afghan poet Rumi, who is considered one of the most popular and influential poets in world history.


* Milk and Honeyby Rupi Kaur

Kaur’s collection of poetry highlights experiences of hurting and how these instances impact one’s ability to love.  She writes about what happens when that love is broken and the healing one must experience to move forward.    


New Jersey Noir edited by Joyce Carol Oates

This is a collection of dark short stories and poems -- all set in New Jersey -- from a variety of different writers.  Are these literary pieces humorous?  Sometimes. Are they fascinating?  Always.



* Best of American Essays 2018

The introduction to this collection of essays attempts to answer the question “What is an essay?”  This collection of creative nonfiction essays addresses topics on everything from cats to the skills necessary to live in the 21st century.


* The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Baldwin’s personal essay attempts to explain his thoughts about race in America in 1963.  It is a compelling examination of racial injustice and a call to allAmericans to right a legacy of wrongs.


* Experience and Education by John Dewey

Dewey’s philosophy of education involves addressing the issue of the appropriate nexus between school and real-world experience.  Though written more than 100 years ago, it is still a relevant work today as we continue to struggle with finding this proper balance.


* The Woman Warrior:  Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston

Kingston details her struggles with her individual and cultural identity as a first-generation Chinese-American woman.  This unique, award-winning text is a unique blend of Chinese folktales and memoirs that involves five interconnected chapters, each of which functions somewhat like a short story.   


* Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol

Kozol describes the overwhelming disparities that he notices between the many public schools that he has visited throughout the country.  He includes interviews with students, teachers, and parents in this seminal sociological work that is simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking.


* The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks About Race edited by Jesmyn Ward

Envisioned as a response to James Baldwin’s groundbreaking 1963 work The Fire Next Time, these contemporary writers reflect on the past, present, and future of race in America.


* A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

This 1929 piece is Woolf’s essay response when asked to speak about women and fiction.  She ponders how women find the space – both literally and figuratively –to write and to live.