Summer Assignments

Summer Reading

Summer 2023

All Students must complete a Summer Reading Assignment, which will be due on the first day of classes in the fall. The summer reading grade will stand as a significant grade for the first marking period. Assignments for each grade can be found below.

Most of the books on the Heights Summer Reading list are available through the Heights Library’s Sora/Outlook portal. Students have an account for this portal at

For user name and password help, or general questions, contact

For additional reading suggestions for students, see our Heights Books program.

Lower School

Lower School students must read all of the books listed for their respective grade before the first day of school. Much of the first few days of classes will be devoted to group discussions, presentations, in-class writing assignments, and games based on the summer reading books. No book reports or essays need to be written before school begins. It is very fruitful for parents to read the books with their sons (aloud together or separately).

Third Grade
  1. American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne
  2. Stone Fox by John Reynolds Gardiner
  3. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
Fourth Grade
  1. Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater
  2. By the Great Horn Spoon! by Sid Fleischman
  3. Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Fifth Grade
  1. Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
  2. The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
  3. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

Middle School

All Middle School students will read the three books from the list below and write at least a one-page essay on each of these books.

In these essays, students should describe the book’s main characters, setting, plot, and lessons or themes. In addition to demonstrated knowledge of the story, students will be graded on proper spelling, punctuation, logic, and style according to their respective grade levels. The essays will count towards the first quarter English and History grades. If possible, teachers appreciate typed essays (12-pt font, double-spaced), although this is not required.

All essays should be submitted to faculty on the first day of school.

Sixth Grade

Students entering sixth grade have one required book and the other two books can be chosen from the list below. Please review the writing assignment above.

Required for History Class

Carry on Mr. Bowditch  by Jean Lee Latham

Choose two of the following for English class

  • White Water, P.J. Petersen
  • Mr. Tucket, Gary Paulsen
  • My Brother Sam is Dead, James and Christopher Collier
  • Where the Red Fern Grows, Wilson Rawls
  • April Morning, Howard Fast
  • Old Yeller, Fred Gipson
  • Yankee Doodle Boy, Joseph Plumb Martin
  • Amos Fortune, Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
Seventh Grade

Students entering seventh grade have one required book and the other two books can be chosen from the list below. Please review the writing assignment above.

Required for History Class

Across Five Aprils, Irene Hunt

Choose two of the following for English class

  • Banner in the Sky, James Ramsey Ullman
  • Captains Courageous, Rudyard Kipling
  • Adam of the Road, Elizabeth Janet Gray
  • The Day Lincoln Was Shot, Jim Bishop
  • True Grit, Charles Portis
  • Day of Infamy, Walter Lord
  • King Solomon’s Mines, H. Rider Haggard
  • Summer of the Monkeys, Wilson Rawls
  • The Chestry Oak, Kate Seredy
  • Shades of Gray, Carolyn Reeder
Eighth Grade

Students entering eighth grade have one required book for History class and the other two books can be chosen from the list below. Please review the writing assignment above.

Required for History Class

The Bronze Bow, Elizabeth George Speare

Choose two of the following for English class:

  • Call of the Wild, Jack London
  • Set All Afire, Louis de Wohl
  • A Study in Scarlet, Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne
  • The Raft, Robert Trumbull (Naval Institute Press)
  • Incredible Victory, Walter Lord
  • Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, C.S. Forester
  • The Lantern Bearers, Rosemary Sutcliff
  • The Light in the Forest, Conrad Richter
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway
  • The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain
  • Rifles for Watie, Harold Keith

Upper School

Students entering grades nine through twelve are to read three books according to the instructions specific to each grade (see below). On the first or second day of English class, students will write an in-class summer reading essay in response to a prompt (which will not be communicated ahead of time). The essay will be graded and count as an exam grade for the first quarter.

To successfully answer the essay prompt, the student will need to have a general understanding of the three books, be able to recall pertinent details, and have a grasp of important themes.

The best way to prepare for this assessment is to attentively read the three books and review them prior to the first day of school.

Ninth Grade

The following two books are required:

  • The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas (978-0395957752 or another edition)
  • The Last Crusader by Louis de Wohl (978-1586174149)

Choose one book from the following:

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis 
  • The Sea Wolf by Jack London
  • Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
  • Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz, translated by Jeremiah Curtin (146624528X, 1612031102 or another edition)
  • Silver Branch by Rosemary Sutcliff
Tenth Grade

The following book is required:

  • 1776 by David McCullough

Choose two books from the following:

  • Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
  • American Cicero by Brad J. Birzer (ISBN 193385989X)
  • Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
  • Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation by Joseph J. Ellis
  • A Separate Peace by Jonathan Knowles
  • Voyage to Alpha Centauri by Michael O’Brien (978-1586178321)
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok 
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
Eleventh Grade

Choose three books from the following:

  • Saint Francis by G.K. Chesterton
  • Saint Thomas Aquinas: The Dumb Ox by G.K. Chesterton
  • Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana, Jr.
  • Sailors to the End by Gregory Freeman
  • Apollo 13 by James Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger
  • Billy Budd, Bartleby and Other Stories by Herman Melville
  • Gallipoli by Alan Morehead
  • Leviathan: The History of Whaling by Eric Jay Nolan
  • Theophilos by Michael O’Brien (ISBN 1586176315)
  • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
  • The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
  • Dante: The Story of His Life by Marco Santagata and Richard Dixon
  • The Snakebite Survivors’ Club by Jeremy Seal
  • Othello by William Shakespeare
  • The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro
  • Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides
  • With the Old Breed by E. B. Sledge
  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  • The Soul of a Lion: The Life of Dietrich von Hildebrand by Alice von Hildebrand
  • Just and Unjust Wars by Michael Walzer
  • Scoop by Evelyn Waugh
  • The Pirate Coast by Richard Zacks
Twelfth Grade

The following books are required:

  • The Quiet Light by Louis de Wohl (ISBN: 0898705959)
  • A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

Choose one book from the following:

  • The Consolation of Philosophy by Anicius Boethius
  • Witness by Whittaker Chambers
  • The Great Terror by Robert Conquest
  • Stalin: Breaker of Nations by Robert Conquest
  • Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • The Shadow of His Wings by Gereon Karl Goldmann
  • Memoirs by U.S. Grant
  • The Face of Battle by John Keegan
  • Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation by St. Thomas More (recommended edition updated by Mary Gottschalk)
  • Silence of St. Thomas by Josef Pieper
  • Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker