Mills High School Summer Reading Program, 2018

  • Please complete the reading assignment for your next year’s English class this summer and be ready to to complete necessary associated classwork upon your return to school.  Books are available at the school bookroom. 

    English 2 College Prep

    A Choice of ONE of the following:

    • A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
    • Bless Me Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya
    • In The Time Of The  Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

    English 2 Advanced Standing

    • Required Reading: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (Fiction) (Required Edition: Bantam Classics Abridged Version)

    • Recommended Reading: The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers (Non-Fiction) by Christopher Vogler


    Please take your own serious notes (they will not be collected) on both selections to help guide your reading experiences, to reflect upon the ideas presented, and to enhance your understanding and appreciation of the works.  You will use your notes to study for the Summer Reading exam and to commit to establishing a strong foundation for our Sophomore Advanced Standing English class.

    Ideas to consider for your own notes on The Count of Monte Cristo:

    • major characters
    • brief chapter summaries
    • major themes
    • major conflicts
    • character growth
    • symbols and what they represent
    • literary techniques and their effectiveness
    • settings
    • important passages

    Ideas to consider for your own notes on The Writer’s Journey:

    • main ideas
    • personal connections/personal thoughts
    • functions of storytelling
    • connections between ideas and other literature
    • connections between ideas and other art forms (film, music, art, poetry)
    • questions you may have
    • relate the book to your life
    • how the book has changed your way of thinking


    There will be a challenging exam/s during the first week of school.  

    We hope that you will enjoy the summer selections, and that you have an inspiring and wonderful summer!  See you in August.


    English 3

    A Choice of ONE of the following

    • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
    • When I was Puerto Rican by  Esmeralda Santiago


    Advanced Placement Language and Composition (Juniors)

    Reading Source

    Incoming Advanced Placement Language & Composition students will need to check out Conversations in American Literature (Aufses & Shea) from the bookroom during finals week or reference the text online.



    Chapters one through three provide a strong foundation for the Advanced Placement Language and Composition course and will greatly benefit incoming students with assignments and readings.


    Summer Reading Assignment

    Over the summer months, read chapters one through three in Conversations in American Literature (1-145) and take notes (annotate with post its) on the following elements within each chapter: literary strategies/devices and their definitions, as well as main ideas and concepts.


    English 4

    Directions: Choose one of the following titles and read it over the summer.  There will be an assignment attached to this reading. Students who do not choose to read a book over the summer will be given a reading assignment that must be completed during the first week of school to complete this same task.


    1. 1984 (George Orwell)

    Published in 1949, it takes its cues very heavily from the events leading up to World War II and the aftermath of that war. The world of Oceania is perpetually at war, and the province of Airstrip One is ruled by an omnipresent and omniscient government that takes full advantage of available technology to gather more power to itself. Today, more than 60 years after its publication, it serves as a benchmark against which many English speaking people measure the power of their government to determine if we are living already in a dystopian future. “Big Brother is watching” has so much meaning that even if you haven’t read the book, maybe even if you’ve never heard of it, you know what that phrase means.


    1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Phillip K. Dick)

    The world Phillip K Dick creates in this novel spans sci-fi, dystopias, and post-apocalyptic society. The world suffers the ravages of World War Terminus. Animals are endangered or extinct due to radiation poisoning, and owning a pet is a status symbol. A bounty hunter, Rick Deckard, must “retire” six escaped androids, while John Isidore assists the androids. The novel explores what it means to be human, contrasting humans with the androids, who lack the ability to empathize. In some ways, the present is a disappointment because of the vividly brutal and simultaneously beautiful way Phillip K Dick painted it to be.  We have no robots, let alone robots that we’re disappointed with because of how starkly non-human they are.


    3.The Road (Cormac McCarthy)

    The Road is a dystopian and brutal look at post-apocalyptic America. A father and son walk towards the coast, unknowing what they’ll find. They walk with a pistol, defending themselves against the lawless thugs who stalk the roads. It’s a future where no hope remains, but the father and son keep each other alive through their own relationship. It shows the best (the father and son’s relationship) and worst of what humans (mostly everyone else still alive) are capable of.


    1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)

    This story comes from the first person Offred. Offred is a maid in a time when fertile women are forced to be breeding machines to keep the human population going. This takes place because the world is a post-nuclear world where many women can’t have children. This is a very theocratic society, and this book tends to be very pro-feminist and anti-religious, which causes it to often be protested. This is a great dystopian tale that is frightening because the logic of how the society became the way it is happens to be very believable.


    1. Flowers for Algernon (Daniel Keyes)

    The eponymous Algernon is a laboratory mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his intelligence by artificial means. The story is told by a series of progress reports written by Charlie Gordon, the first human test subject for the surgery, and it touches upon many different ethical and moral themes such as the treatment of the mentally disabled. When brain surgery makes the mouse into a genius, dull-witted Charlie Gordon wonders if it might also work for him. It does ... but then the mouse begins to regress.


    1. Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)

    As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have re-entered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.


    Advanced Placement Literature and Composition (Seniors)



    How To Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster

    What does it mean when a fictional hero takes a journey? Shares a meal? Gets drenched in a sudden rain shower? Often, there is much more going on in a novel or poem than is readily visible on the surface -- a symbol, maybe, that remains elusive, or an unexpected twist on a character -- and there's that sneaking suspicion that the deeper meaning of a literary text keeps escaping you.


    In this practical and amusing guide to literature, Thomas C. Foster shows how easy and gratifying it is to unlock those hidden truths, and to discover a world where a road leads to a quest; a shared meal may signify a communion; and rain, whether cleansing or destructive, is never just rain. Ranging from major themes to literary models, narrative devices, and form, How to Read Literature Like a Professor is the perfect companion for making your reading experience more enriching, satisfying, and fun. It is the best introduction to Advanced Placement “thinking” I’ve found.



    (Please pick these two up in our bookroom. You may also purchase your own copies—much easier for your reading notes.)


    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

    Preferred edition: Norton Critical Editions

    Good, inexpensive: Pocket Enriched Classics

    Dickens wrote two endings for this book—read them both and see which you like best.


    Othello by William Shakespeare

    Preferred edition: Norton Critical Editions

    Good, inexpensive: Washington Square—New Folger Library


    Please make sure to watch the play all in one sitting first, before you begin to read it, just like Shakespeare intended. The Lawrence Fishburne production is very good but there are quite a few to choose from—just make sure you pick a production you like. Grab some popcorn and get a group together!




    On Writing by Stephen King

    Here, King tells the story of his childhood and early influences, describes his development as a writer, offers extensive advice on technique (read: write tight and no garbage) and finally recounts his well-known experience of being hit by a drunk driver while walking on a country road in 1999 and the role that his work has played in his rehabilitation. While some of his guidance is not exactly revolutionary (he recommends The Elements of Style as a must-have reference), other revelations that vindicate authors of popular fiction, like himself, as writers, such as his preference for stressing character and situation over plot, are engrossing.


    If you choose to purchase your own copies, I recommend that you explore because of their extensive used book offerings, often at quite substantial savings.


    All works will be covered in examinations given during the first week of class. The tests form a large part of the first six weeks’ grades and will be a combination of essay and objective formats. Please start this reading early. The books are each rich, wonderful and curious but they do demand considerable effort and time.


    Best of luck and have a wonderful summer!