Summer Reading

Updated 6/11/2024

An introduction to summer reading from our English Department Chairperson:

As we embark on another exciting year of academic and personal growth, I want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of our summer reading requirement and its critical impact on student learning and development.

Summer reading is more than just a tradition at St. Thomas Aquinas High School; it is a cornerstone of our commitment to fostering lifelong learning and intellectual curiosity. Extensive research in educational psychology and pedagogy highlights the significant benefits of engaging in consistent reading, particularly during the summer months when academic activities are less structured.

Reading during the summer helps maintain and enhance the cognitive skills developed during the school year. Studies have shown that students who engage in regular reading over the summer months experience less learning loss and are better prepared to tackle the challenges of the new academic year.

Summer reading encourages students to take ownership of their learning. By selecting books that interest them, students learn to pursue knowledge independently, a skill that will serve them well beyond their high school years. This autonomy in learning cultivates a love for reading and intellectual exploration that can last a lifetime.

Strengthening the Home-School Connection
We also believe that summer reading is an excellent opportunity to strengthen the partnership between home and school. We encourage parents to engage with their children about the books they are reading. 

We understand that summer is a time for relaxation and family activities, but incorporating reading into your summer plans does not have to be burdensome. Whether it’s setting aside a quiet hour each day for reading or bringing a book along on your family vacation, these small efforts can yield significant benefits.

To support our students, we have carefully curated a list of engaging and thought-provoking books tailored to each grade level. We are confident that these selections will not only fulfill the academic objectives of our curriculum but also ignite a passion for reading.

Thank you for your continued support and dedication to your child’s education. Together, we can ensure that the students of St. Thomas Aquinas High School are not only well-prepared for the coming school year but are also inspired to become lifelong learners.

Warm regards,

Mr. Brant Lutska, PhD. 
English Department Chairman




Each year, students will be required to read 1 text selected by the English Department, and 2-4 additional texts (depending on level) from a provided book list.

  • College Prep: 1 required text, 1student-selected texts
  • Honors: 1 required text, 2 student-selected texts
  • AP®: 1 required text, 3 student-selected texts 



Near the end of September, students will be assessed on their summer reading through a traditional exam on the required text AND collecting answers to Guided Reading questions the students wrote about their student-selected books.

College Prep

  • Exam on required text (70 points)
  • 15 Questions on selected text (30 points)


  • Exam on required text (70 points)
  • 10 Questions on 1st selected text (15 points)
  • 10 Questions on 2nd selected text (15 points)


  • Exam on required text (70 points)
  • 5 starred (*) Questions on 1st selected text (10 points)
  • 5 starred (*) Questions on 2nd selected text (10 points)
  • 5 starred (*) Questions on 3rd selected text (10 points)

The grading rubrics for the questions on the selected texts are listed in the document below; along with the Summer Reading lists for each grade level AND the question options for each book. 


Reading List


  1. Night by Elie Wiesel (Required)
  2. Animal Farm by George Orwell
  3. Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo” by Zora Neale Hurston (non-fiction)
  4. The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  5. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  7. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
  8. Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg (non-fiction)


  1. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Required)
  2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  5. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
  6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  7. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  8. The Coddling of the American Mind by Jonathan Haidt & Greg Lukianoff (non-fiction)


  1. The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde (Required for CP)
  2. Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare (Required for Honors)
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  4. Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
  5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  7. Dracula by Bram Stoker
  8. Thank You for Arguing by Jay Heinrichs (non-fiction)


  1. The Oedipus Cycle (Oedipus the King, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone) by Sophocles (Required)
  2. The Oresteia Trilogy by Aeschylus
  3. Medea by Euripides
  4. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams
  5. Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  6. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly
  7. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  8. How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster (non-fiction)