Grade 12 Theme: Synthesis of Form and Content

In order to begin twelfth 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 and Honors English 12

  • 2003 San Franciso Chronicle Best Book of the Year
  • 2004 American Library Association Notable Book

This is the tale of a forty year friendship between Amir and Hassan, residents of war-torn Afghanistan. The boys both struggle with the meaning of friendship, courage, and honor as they grapple with the impact of being victims of both physical and sexual assault and living in a country ravaged by decades of war.

kiterunner.jpg Review

AP English 12 (Three required)
Camus, Albert. The Plague
  • 1957 Nobel Prize
The post-World War II allegorical tale of a deadly plague that ravishes a north African community. The story chronicles one doctor’s valiant persistence in confronting the disease. Moving depictions of patients in the throes of the plague are contrasted with philosophical meditations on the presence of evil and the efficacy of man.


O’Brien, Tim. In The Lake of The Woods.
  • 1994 Editor’s Choice: New York Times Book Review
Kathy Wade, wife of a politician, has disappeared. Investigation of this mystery unearths incriminating details about her husband John’s past, including traumatizing experiences from his childhood and his tour of duty during the Vietnam War. The novel goes on to explore the emotionally dysfunctional nature of Kathy and John’s relationship.
. Review.
Click here for the In the Lake of the Woods Reading Guide:


Saramago, José. Blindness.
  • 1998 Nobel Prize for Literature
When a blindness epidemic strikes, desperate citizens of a modern city are reduced to primitive behaviors. Chaos ensues as all semblance of civilization is lost. Descriptions of violence, sexual assault, and promiscuity highlight man’s deterioration. A single person remains immune to the virus and shepherds a group of victims through tumultuous events. This dystopian novel forces the reader to consider the nature of morality and the limitations of government and technology in the modern era. Review

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.