Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cranford High School Summer Reading

So here is one of my long-awaited updates on my take on summer reading selections from the high schools in Union County, NJ. I'm starting with Cranford High School. It looks like all students are supposed to read two books over the summer. AP and Honors students are supposed to read one "fictional" work selected by the teacher and one work of nonfiction from the list. Um, actually, mythology is generally cataloged under nonfiction just as poetry is under a section of nonfiction, so that's not strictly correct, but, okay, Cranford HS. You do you, boo.

Here's their page.

The "Fiction" for specific classes (pulled from CHS's site):
Ninth Grade Honors—Mythology, ed. Edith Hamilton
Tenth Grade Honors—The Things They Carried, Tim O'Brien
Eleventh Grade Honors—1984, George Orwell

Eleventh Grade AP Language and Composition—1984, George Orwell

Twelfth Grade AP Literature and Composition —Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison

These titles are required for AP and Honors students, so no way around them. I haven't read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. For students going into 11th grade who are assigned 1984, I have to tell you: I was not excited about that book, but once I got into it, I couldn't put it down. George Orwell is a bit British and stuffy and it shows, but nonetheless, 1984 is relevant today and you do get sucked in. 1984 is available on Audible in an unabridged audiobook version. Several dramatic radio programs are available as well. While dramatic performances may help deepen your understanding of the text, make sure that you listen to the reading of the original work by George Orwell. Audible offers an abridged version of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. If you want to err on the side of caution, you probably are better off reading the full original work in case your English teacher decides to be cruel and ask questions about the stuff that gets edited out of the abridged version; you know how they are.

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is one of my favorite books ever. It is a collection of short stories. The longest one (I believe) is the one it starts with "The Things They Carried." I know you're shocked. I'll see if I can find some supplemental material that is online and A/V to help get you in the mood for this collection, but if you are trying to work yourself up to a certain enthusiasm for it, you don't have anything to worry about. You won't regret reading any of these stories. Also, "The Silver Star" features lots of poop, so stay on the look-out for that. (I know you're excited.) If you have a chance, definitely make your way down to DC and walk through the Vietnam War Memorial, if you never have. It will be much more meaningful after you read this book.
Quick fyi: Audible offers audio Cliff's Notes and an audio unabridged version of the short story collection. So if you're a slow reader, you can clean your room and "read" the book.

Mythology edited by Edith Hamilton--it has been a while since I read this and I've read a lot of books on Greek/Roman, Norse, and other mythology. I believe this book focuses on the Greek myths. I love mythology. This isn't my favorite collection; I can't really lie about that. For Greek myths, I know neither of these is strictly high school level, but I love the D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths and Olivia Coolidge's The Trojan War. Edith Hamilton writes in a very academic style and I feel like a lot of the fun gets lost in her interpretation. Still, she is very thorough. I will revisit my copy and try to give a more thorough review and some notes to help you out soon, so stay tuned.
Audible does offer an unabridged version of Mythology edited by Edith Hamilton.

I am familiar with some of the other items on the Nonfiction and Fiction lists. I'll post an update shortly with an overview on those, and highlight some particularly good resources/pieces.

photo credit: daniel_dimarco DSC_0702.jpg via photopin (license)