Summer Reading

The English Department encourages you to read as much as possible this summer: to get lost in a book, meet inspiring characters, marvel in the wonders of language, find solace in a story, and find new ways to look at the world. Below are the required text(s) for each course. In addition to the required text(s), students will choose two additional texts from the lists below. They represent a wide range of content and genres and we urge you to try something new and challenging. As always, consult with a trusted adult if you are unsure about a particular text. Returning students may also choose to read a text that was distributed to them by an English teacher, but that they were not able to read during the course of the school year.

If you are unsure which English class you may be taking, please note that academic schedules and placements are forthcoming, and will be confirmed shortly after completing your academic placement tests. Please feel free to email English Department Chair Megan Mulhern for any questions at

Required Texts by Grade

Required Read: A Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park

Choose Two:

  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin (Fiction)
  • Kira-Kira, Cynthia Kadohata (Fiction)
  • Amina’s Voice, Hena Khan (Fiction)
  • Front Desk, Kelly Yang (Fiction)
  • Out of My Mind, Sharon M. Draper (Fiction)
  • The Elephant in the Room, Holly Goldberg Sloan (Fiction)
  • Echo Mountain, Lauren Wolk (Fiction)
  • Hidden Figures (Young Readers Edition), Margot Lee Shetterly (Non-Fiction)
  • Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai (Novel in Verse)
  • Pashmina, Nidhi Chanani (Graphic Novel)
  • Everything Comes Next, Naomi Shihab Nye (Poetry)
  • The Diary of Anne Frank: Dramatized, Frances Goodrich & Albert Hackett (Drama)

Required Read: Stamped, Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds

Choose Two:

  • A Crack in the Sea, H.M. Bouwman (Fiction)
  • Echo, Pam Munoz Ryan (Fiction)
  • The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Fiction)
  • The Benefits of Being an Octopus, Ann Braden (Fiction)
  • A Good Kind of Trouble, Lisa Moore Ramée (Fiction)
  • Amber & Clay, Laura Amy Schlitz (Fiction)
  • Jefferson’s Sons, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Historical Fiction)
  • I am Malala, Malala Yousafzai (Non-Fiction)
  • Other Words for Home, Jasmine Warga (Novel in Verse)
  • The Moon Within, Aida Salazar (Novel in Verse)
  • Poetry Speaks Who I am, Edited by Elise Paschen (Poetry)
  • American Born Chinese, Gene Luen Yang (Graphic Novel)

Required Read: Piecing Me Together, Renee Watson

Choose Two:

  • A Wizard of Earthsea, Ursula K. LeGuin (Fiction)
  • Life of Pi, Yann Martel (Fiction)
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Sáenz (Fiction)
  • The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd (Fiction) 
  • Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte (Fiction)
  • The 57 Bus, Dashka Slater (Fiction)
  • Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson (Creative Nonfiction)
  • When I was Puerto Rican, Esmeralda Santiago (Creative Nonfiction)
  • The Crucible, Arthur Miller (Drama)
  • Inherit the Wind, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee (Drama)
  • Carver: A Life in Poems, Marilyn Nelson (Poetry)
  • A Time to Dance, Padma Venkatraman (Poetry)
  • Little White Duck: A Childhood in China, Na Liu (Graphic Novel)

Required Read: The Girl with the Louding Voice, Abi Dare

Choose Two:

  • Annie John, Jamaica Kincaid (Fiction)
  • Brown Girl, Brownstones, Paule Marshall (Fiction)
  • Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen (Fiction)
  • Salt to the Sea, Ruta Sepetys (Fiction)
  • A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, Michael Dorris (Fiction)
  • The Borrower, Rebecca Makkai (Fiction)
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak (Fiction)
  • We are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (Fiction)
  • The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls (Creative Nonfiction)
  • Crimes of the Heart, Beth Henley (Drama)
  • The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde (Drama)
  • Dream Work, Mary Oliver (Poetry)
  • Oceanic, Aimee Nezhukumatathil (Poetry)
  • Electric Arches, Eve Ewing (Poetry)
  • Headwaters, Ellen Bryant Voigt (Poetry)
  • Words Under the Words, Naomi Shihab Nye (Poetry)
  • Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (Graphic Novel/Creative Non-Fiction)

Required Read: Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi

Choose Two:

  • Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fiction)
  • Ceremony, Leslie Marmon Silko (Fiction)
  • The Red and the Black, Stendahl (Fiction)
  • Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (Fiction)
  • Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks (Fiction)
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick, (Fiction)
  • The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck (Fiction)
  • The Best We Could Do, Thi Bui (Creative Nonfiction) 
  • Fire Girl, Sayantani Dasgupta (Creative Nonfiction)
  • The House of Bernarda Alba, Federico García Lorca (Drama)
  • A Doll’s House, Ibsen (Drama)
  • Monument, Natasha Trethewey (Poetry) 
  • How to Carry Water, Lucille Clifton (Poetry)
  • Song, Brigit Pegeen Kelly (Poetry)
  • The January Children, Safia Elhillo (Poetry)
  • Maus, Art Spiegelman (Graphic Novel/Creative Non-Fiction)

Required Read: Sing, Unburied, Sing, Jesmyn Ward
Additional Required Read for Advanced English: The Great Believers, Rebecca Makkai

Choose Two:

  • Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison (Fiction)
  • All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy (Fiction) 
  • The Summer Book, Tove Jansson (Fiction)
  • The Painted Drum, Louise Erdrich (Fiction)
  • The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton (Fiction)
  • Dear Life, Alice Munro (Short Fiction)
  • The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin (Non-Fiction)
  • The Ungrateful Refugee, Dina Nayeri (Creative Nonfiction)
  • Tell Me How It Ends, Valeria Luiselli (Creative Nonfiction)
  • Topdog/Underdog, Suzan-Lori Parks (Drama)
  • Top Girls, Caryl Churchill (Drama)
  • Be Holding, Ross Gay (Poetry)
  • Citizen, Claudia Rankine (Poetry) 
  • Wade in the Water, Tracy K. Smith (Poetry)
  • Space, In Chains, Laura Kasischke (Poetry)
  • Look, Solmaz Sharif (Poetry)
  • Vietnamerica, G. B. Tran (Graphic Novel/Creative Non-Fiction)

Required Read: The Vanishing Half, Brit Bennett

Additional Required Reads:

  • For Advanced English: Bel Canto, Anne Patchett
  • For Visiting Writers Seminar: Rose, Li-Young Lee
  • For Literature and the Environment: Under a White Sky, Elizabeth Kolbert
  • For The Art of Memoir: Know My Name, Chanel Miller

Choose Two:

  • Swing Time, Zadie Smith (Fiction)
  • The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Fiction)
  • An American Marriage, Tayari Jones (Fiction)
  • The Sympathizer, Viet Thanh Nguyen (Fiction)
  • A Manual for Cleaning Women, Lucia Berlin (Short Fiction)
  • An American Childhood, Annie Dillard (Creative Nonfiction/Essays)
  • Men We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward (Creative Nonfiction)
  • On All Fronts: The Education of a Journalist, Clarissa Ward (Creative Nonfiction)
  • Sweat, Lynn Nottage (Drama)
  • Cost of Living, Martyna Majok (Drama)
  • Night Sky With Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong (Poetry)
  • An American Sunrise, Joy Harjo (Poetry)
  • Incendiary Art, Patricia Smith (Poetry)
  • Collected Poems of WB Yeats (Poetry) 
  • The Essential W. S. Merwin (Poetry)
  • Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (Graphic Novel/Creative Non-Fiction)
  • Stitches, David Small (Graphic Novel/Creative Non-Fiction)

All School Read: Summer 2021

For Summer 2021, grades 6-12 and all adults will read Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. This All-School Read will bring us together at the beginning of the year to discuss a wonderful book that offers themes of the Walker’s Capabilities Approach Program.

Akata Witch is the story of Sunny, a girl on a journey of self-discovery where she learns that she has natural powers and abilities that help her and her friends change the world. This is more surprising because Sunny is Nigerian, but was born in America and her Nigerian classmates see her as an outsider. Worse, she is an albino, an obvious target for bullies and suspected of being a ghost or a witch. By developing her natural abilities, when combined with and bolstered by others, Sunny is able to flourish and make a big difference to a lot of people.

The All-School Read will be followed up by discussion groups during orientation in the fall, and is expected of the entire Walker’s community. Please consider some of the themes of the book and of Walker’s Capabilities Approach Program as you read:

  • A journey of self-discovery where she is bolstered by others, allowing her and her friends to change the world
  • Natural and hidden abilities that must be activated and learned and allow for success and flourishing in the future
  • Living in two worlds: the world as it is; and a world of possibilities
  • Learning and knowledge are the highest values
  • Learning to become who you truly are: flourishing
  • Resilience: not being deterred by or afraid of failure

Please contact Director of the Walker’s Capabilities Approach Program Ned Edwards with questions at

Akata Witch book cover