Summer Assignments

Summer Reading

Summer 2022

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


Each student entering 9th grade is to read three books in preparation for an oral examination by his English teacher. This oral examination will take place on or soon after the first day of school, will be approximately ten minutes in length and will be geared to determining whether the student has read each work carefully and reflectively. Top marks will be given to students who are able to demonstrate that they have read each book with a reasonable attention to detail and have, more importantly, thought about the themes in each work.


Three books are required:

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

Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors

Students entering grades 10 through 12 are to read three books and write one essay. The book options are on the lists below.  

The summer reading essay is not a “book report.” Rather, it should be an interpretive essay that answers the following question:

According to the ancient Greeks, kairos is the supreme and decisive moment in which action leads either to success or to failure. In each of the summer reading texts, illuminate the kairos. In your essay, explain the factors leading up to it, the decisive action(s) taken during it, and the consequences that followed because of it.

The summer reading essay should be approximately 750 words in length (about 3 pages typed and double spaced in a standard 12-point font). Grading will be based on how well reasoned the essay is, how well it incorporates detail from the books to convey its points and on use of proper grammar and style. The best essay will read as a unified whole, comparing and contrasting the way kairos is manifested in each work of literature. Standards, of course, will be based on the respective grade level of the student. The mark will stand as a significant grade in the English class for the first quarter. 

Summer reading essays are due on the first day of school.

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 3 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
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr.
  • 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, 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, Evelyn Waugh
  • The Pirate Coast by Richard Zacks
Twelfth Grade

The following book is required:

  • The Quiet Light by Louis de Wohl (ISBN: 0898705959)

Choose 2 books 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
  • A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken
  • Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker