Summer Reading

Cathedral High School’s English department promotes reading as a year-round activity. 

The texts listed have been selected by the English department and should be read thoughtfully.  Each grade/academic level is listed below.  Our different courses have some differences in requirements.  The summer reading entries are due Friday, August 9, 2019. You must have the journal entries completed, printed, and available on your iPads. These instructions follow the school-wide reading list below. 

Summer Reading List & Requirements

Summer Reading List


Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy

At age nine, Lucy Grealy was diagnosed with a potentially terminal cancer. When she returned to school with a third of her jaw removed, she faced the cruel taunts of classmates. In this strikingly candid memoir, Grealy portrays the pain of peer rejection and the guilty pleasures of wanting to be special. Grealy captures with unique insight what it is like as a child and young adult to be torn between two warring impulses: to feel that more than anything else we want to be loved for who we are, while wishing desperately and secretly to be perfect.

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride

Who is Ruth McBride Jordan? A self-declared "light-skinned" woman evasive about her ethnicity, yet steadfast in her love for her twelve black children. James McBride, journalist, musician, and son, explores his mother's past, as well as his own upbringing and heritage, in a poignant and powerful debut.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age is set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

*Please be sure to read the adult version of this book, NOT the young readers adaptation. If confused, the ISBN for the text is 978-0399588198.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In this autobiographical memoir, Mrs. Obama recounts the importance of her parents, her brother, and her community as she matures into the woman who eventually becomes First Lady. Mrs. Obama also focuses on the challenges of being a wife and mother in a public role.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

In this memoir, Walls recounts her complex relationship with her flawed family. The family's unique lifestyle challenges Walls to survive and thrive and to become a model for finding self in the midst of chaos and uncertainty.


The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the hope in apparently empty places.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

Beartown is a forgotten town, a town that others have written off. When the junior hockey team makes a run for the championship, hope is restored. When a young woman is brutally attacked, the town is divided and accusations are made, leaving no resident unaffected. Beartown explores the hopes of a small town, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain.

March by Geraldine Brooks

Inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, this Pulitzer Prize winner considers the Civil War through the lens of the March family patriarch. Mr. March is wounded as he serves in the Civil War. This is the enduring story of the struggle to fight his way back to health and his family.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri has big shoes to fill. Angie Thomas, who wrote The Hate U Give, teaches us how we can make it--whatever that ends up looking like.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

The story of a family that struggles to deal with literal and metaphorical ghosts from the past. This novel shows the power and limitations of family as each generation struggles to free itself from the injustice of life in Mississippi.

Snow in August by Pete Hamill

Brooklyn, 1947. The war veterans have come home. Jackie Robinson is about to become a Dodger. And in one close-knit working-class neighborhood, a fatherless Irish Catholic boy named Michael Devlin has just made friends with a lonely rabbi from Prague. Michael and the rabbi are caught in an escalating spiral of hate for which there's only one way out -- a miracle.

We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

Far from the neon lights of the Vegas strip, three lives are about to collide; a middle aged woman attempting to revive her marriage, a returning soldier waking up in a hospital with no memory of how he got there, and a brave eight-year-old immigrant boy.This is a story about families—the ones we have and the ones we make.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand.

Grade Level Requirements


9LSP - One text from the summer reading list
9CP - One text from the summer reading list
9A - One text from the summer reading list
9X - One text from the summer reading list and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

10LSP - One text from the summer reading list and Fault in Our Stars by John Green
10CP - One text from the summer reading list
10A - One text from the summer reading list
10X - Two texts from the summer reading list

11LSP - One text from the summer reading list and Grendel by John Gardner
11CP - One text from the summer reading list and The Last Kingdom by Bernard Cornwell
11A - Two texts from the summer reading list
11  IB - One text from the summer reading list and The Saint and the Sultan by Paul Moses (HL-Kucsera)
11  AP Lang - One text from the summer reading list and Why Can’t We Wait by Martin Luther King, Jr.

12LSP - One text from the summer reading list and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
12CP - One text from the summer reading list and Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (text required to be annotated at beginning of school)
12A - One text from the summer reading list and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
12  IB - One text from the summer reading list and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
12 ACP/Dual Credit    One text from the summer reading list and The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
12 AP Lit - All students must read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and choose to read ONE of the books listed below:
  - Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf The Awakening by Kate Chopin Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  - Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Journal Entry Instructions



The entries are not to be written collaboratively. Each student must work independently and avoid any outside sources. All entries will be submitted to to check for originality; duplication is unacceptable and will result in a zero. Students should use the MLA heading for their first journal. Modern Language Association (MLA) specifies a standard format for essays written in an academic setting:

  • One-inch page margins
  • Double-spaced paragraphs
  • 12-point font, Times New Roman
  • A right corner header with author's last name and page number one-half inch from the top of each page.
  • Name of author, name of teacher, title of course, date of paper on the left side of the first page of the paper. See the sample below:
example of summer reading report

Students should save the digital copy of their journals on their iPads. These should be brought to school to submit to Schoology to check for originality. Expect teachers to require students to print a paper copy of the journals to class. Freshmen should refer to the video sent to them by Enrollment Management with specific details.

Due Date: Friday, August 9, 2019. If students move classes, they will have to resubmit upon transferring.

Each journal entry must contain at least ONE piece of textual evidence (quotation from the book). Place quotation marks around the quoted material, then add an in-text citation. Quotations must be cited using the following format: Author’s last name page number (Lee 21)


Journal Requirements for Each Book as Required by Grade/Academic Level:

- MLA format
- Two entries/text--student choice for each book
- While students may use first person, these journal entries should reflect their best writing and should consider the text as a whole, not just one section or chapter.
- Standards of mechanics, spelling, and grammar apply.
- Length: At least 250 words per entry. Please indicate (word count) at the end of each entry. 


  1. How does this text reflect the Holy Cross core value of Family?
  2. Connect the work to another idea/book/current event. How are they similar? How are they different?
  3. Choose a character. What is the significance of that particular character?
  4. Setting is essential to any text. How does the setting(s) influence the events in the text?
  5. What did you learn from your reading of this book? How did this book change or affect your thinking?
  6. Every work—fiction or nonfiction—has a turning point. What do you think is the turning point or climax of this work?
  7. Choose a passage that you find memorable. Maybe it involves the events of the story, maybe it involves really fine writing—provide the passage (doesn’t count toward the 250+ words requirement), and explain why it is memorable.
  8. Everything ends—fiction or nonfiction. Did you find the conclusion satisfying? Would you change anything?


Each entry will contain one piece of textual evidence to be cited using MLA and should not come from only one section of the book. The journals should reflect your understanding of the work as a whole.

summer reading grading rubric

All questions about summer reading should be directed to the Humanities Co-chairs:
Lizabeth Bradshaw:
Mark Matthews: