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2013 Grade 9-12 Summer Reading List

This list was compiled by Linda Williams for the Connecticut State Department of Education. Most selected titles are loosely connected to Connecticut’s statewide summer reading theme, UNDERGROUND. Many have been selected as exemplary books by at least one of the following: American Library Association (ALA) the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), or the National Science Teachers Assocation (NSTA) or (USBBY). Note: There is little coverage of high school level titles by any of these organizations other than ALA. (Download a .pdf of the list)


Everneath by Brodi Ashton
Regretting her decision to forfeit her life on Earth to become an immortal on Everneath, a world between Earth and Hell, teenaged Nikki is given the chance to return to the Surface for six months, in this story loosely based on the “Hades and Persephone” myth. Lexile: 590
VOYA Best Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
In September 1973, as the school year begins in his depressed Ohio town, high-school senior Kurt Shoemaker determines to be “normal,” despite his chaotic home life with his volatile, alcoholic mother and the deep loyalty and affection he has for his friends in the therapy group dubbed the Madman Underground. Lexile: 1040

Bone Dance by Martha Brooks
When her father wills her a cabin on land in rural Manitoba, Alexandra meets a young man who shares her Indian heritage and her experience of being haunted by spirits.

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey
Eighteen-year-old New Zealand boarding school student Ellie Spencer must use her rusty tae kwon do skills and new-found magic to try to stop a fairy-like race of creatures from Maori myth and legend that is plotting to kill millions of humans in order to regain their lost immortality. Lexile: 790

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
The shaky marriage between Henry Mcallan and his city-bred wife Laura becomes even more unstable when his brother Jamie returns from World War Ii in 1946 to help work the family’s miserable cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta, along with his comrade-in-arms Ronsel Jackson, the oldest son of local sharecroppers, who soon learns that his heroics in battle mean nothing in the Jim Crow south.

The Traitor in the Tunnel by Y. S. Lee
Queen Victoria has a problem: there’s a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency assigns quick-witted Mary Quinn to the case. Posing as a domestic in the royal household and fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales are challenge enough, but when the prince witnesses a murder in an opium den — and scandal threatens the royal family — Mary learns that the accused killer may be someone very close to her. (The Agency series, book 3)

The Beet Fields: Memories of a Sixteenth Summer by Gary Paulsen
The author recalls his experiences as a migrant laborer and carnival worker after he ran away from home at age sixteen. Lexile: 1070

Buried Onions by Gary Soto
When nineteen-year-old Eddie drops out of college, he struggles to find a place for himself as a Mexican American living in a violence-infested neighborhood of Fresno, California. Lexile: 850

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart
Born the bastard son of a Welsh princess, Myridden Emrys — or as he would later be known, Merlin — leads a perilous childhood, haunted by portents and visions. But destiny has great plans for this no-man’s-son, taking him from prophesying before the High King Vortigern to the crowning of Uther Pendragon … and the conception of Arthur — king for once and always. Lexile: 960

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
Seventeen-year-old Karou, a lovely, enigmatic art student in a Prague boarding school, carries a sketchbook of hideous, frightening monsters–the chimaerae who form the only family she has ever known. Lexile: 850

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Enduring a hardscrabble existence as the children of alcoholic and absent parents, four siblings from a coastal Mississippi town prepare their meager stores for the arrival of Hurricane Katrina while struggling with such challenges as a teen pregnancy and a dying litter of prize pups. Lexile: 890

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can. Lexile: 1020

Tunneling to the Center of the Earth by Kevin Wilson
Collects eleven short stories from American author Kevin Wilson, including “Grand Stand-in,” Blowing Up On the Spot,”and “The Dead Sister Handbook: a Guide for Sensitive Boys.”


Pitch Black by Youme Landowne & Anthony Horowitz
Youme describes her unique collaboration with artist Anthony Horton, which began as the two traveled together on the New York subway system.

There’s a Hair in My Dirt!: A Worm’s Story by Gary Larson
A young earthworm, upset to discover a hair in his dinner dirt, gets a lesson about the realities of nature from his father, and learns about his importance in the perpetuation of life on Earth.




Corpses, Coffins and Crypts: A History of Burial by Penny Colman
Documents the burial process throughout the centuries and in different cultures. Lexile: 1190

Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese
Traces the history of coal, discussing how it has been used in different cultures, how it is mined, what negative effects it has had on people, economics, and the environment, and the role it has played in world history and development.

Shadow Divers: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson
Tells the story of the discovery in 1991 of a World War II German U-boat, sunk sixty miles off the coast of New Jersey, by deep sea divers John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, and their six year obsession with identifying the submarine which sank with its crew onboard.

Black Gold: The Story of Oil in Our Lives by Albert Marrin
A history of the slick and foul-smelling substance that drives our existence and that becomes scarcer as our dependence on it grows. Lexile: 1070

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
Explores how human cadavers have been used throughout history, discussing how the use of dead bodies has benefited every aspect of human existence. Lexile: 1230
Outstanding Books for the College Bound


The Ditchdigger’s Daughters by Yvonne S. Thornton
The author describes her experiences as an African American girl growing up in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and how she and her sisters formed a singing group to finance their education and went on to become successful despite the obstacles in their paths.

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