Theme: The American Dream

In order to begin eleventh grade Language Arts with a shared reading experience, we require each student to read the selection listed under his/her course level. We have selected a novel that relates thematically to the essential questions of each course. We believe that pre-requisite reading should be focused and that a common reading experience helps to establish a community of learners on the first day.

Please help by making completion of this task non-negotiable. Work with your child to develop a reading schedule, and if possible, to read the selection so that your child has the opportunity to discuss with you what s/he is reading.

Resource Materials:
Visit to learn more about the reading selections. This website provides overviews of novels with attention to potential parental concerns and questions about book selections. Additionally, parents and students can visit the course overviews at the webpage found within the 9-12 Language Arts section of the “Curriculum” tab. These overviews provide further insight into the goals, thematic ideas, and enduring understandings that will inform student learning throughout the duration of the course.

We recommend that students keep a reading journal and/or a reading guide that they will be permitted to use as a memory aid for the assessment. Teachers have prepared optional reading guides for each selection. These guides are available in the guidance office or online at

Students must read the required novel before the start of the school year. Teachers will assess the reading during the first few days of the course.

Contact: A parent (or guardian) who has an objection to a selection designated for his/her son or daughter should send a letter to the high school principal, explaining the objection and requesting an alternative assignment.

Academic English 11

Walls, Jeanette. The Glass Castle.
  • Young Adult Library Services Association ALA Alex Award
  • Pennsylvania School Librarian Association (PSLA) "Top Ten (Or So)" Young Adult Books
  • Virginia Readers’ Choice Award Master List
In this 2005 memoir, former celebrity gossip columnist Jeannette Walls reveals the incredible details of her childhood. In one of the earliest chapters, we see three-year-old Jeannette cooking her own dinner and accidentally setting herself on fire. As Jeanette and her siblings struggle to overcome the obstacles of growing up with an alcoholic father and a mentally unstable mother, they must also deal with issues in the communities in which they live such as physical and sexual violence. This memoir is an extraordinary tale of a loyal but dysfunctional family.
Amazon Reviews.

Honors English 11
Butler, Robert Olen. A Good Scent From A Strange Mountain.
  • Pulitzer Prize: 1993 Fiction
Robert Olen Butler, a counterintelligence linguist for the U.S. Army, writes seventeen short stories illustrating the spectrum of experiences felt by Vietnamese immigrants in the wake of the Vietnam War. All stories are told in first person and capture the painful conflicts that originate in the need to negotiate one’s native culture with a newly acquired culture. The study of these stories offers the opportunity for students to study how Butler’s stories speak to issues of assimilation and acculturation as they strive for the American Dream. The varied narrators reflect all aspects of society and touch upon adult issues related to family, ethnocentricity, gender roles, sexuality, and marriage. Review

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Good Scent from a Strange Mountain Book Trailer

English 10 100

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Flinn, Alex: Breathing Underwater.
To his friends, popular and handsome sixteen-year-old Nick Andreas has led a charmed life. But the guys in Nick's anger management class know differently. So does his ex-girlfriend Caitlin. Now it looks like the only person who doesn't realize how far from perfect Nick's life has become is Nick himself.

Alternate title:

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Steinbeck, John: Of Mice and Men.
They are an unlikely pair: George is "small and quick and dark of face"; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a "family," clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation. Laborers in California's dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie's unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.