Summer Reading and Course Work 2021-22

Below you’ll find all the information you will need to be prepared for your next academic year at Williston. Your grade level and specific course enrollment will determine which of these entries applies to you.

Please read and follow all the instructions carefully. We want you to perform at your best from the start of the year, and a thoughtful review of material and a thorough reading of the prescribed books will help you do that. We also have added some “Optional Departmental Recommendations” at the end of this page, and we hope you’ll read as many as you can.

These summer assignments are designed to introduce you to the material and ideas that you will be studying this year. The assignments are mandatory, so please complete the reading thoroughly, and approach the assignments with the care and interest that they deserve.  Please work independently on all summer work, using only the required texts and materials.  Any evidence of plagiarism or the sharing of answers will be subject to the same consequences as any other academic violation during the school year.  In the first weeks of school, you should expect some sort of formal follow-up to the summer work, either a written assignment to be submitted, an in-class activity, or a quiz.  These will be your first graded assignments of the new academic year, and they will form the first impressions for your teachers, so please do your best.

Have a great summer and we look forward to seeing you in September!

Purchasing Text Books

For information about purchasing textbooks, visit our books page.

Upper School Summer Reading & Coursework by Subject

  • English

    The Williston English department wishes to inspire a lifelong love of reading, as well as provide the analytical tools needed to approach challenging texts with both confidence and curiosity. With these hopes in mind, we encourage you to read widely and regularly this summer, sharing your appreciation of and questions about your reading with friends and family. 

    For your assigned texts, please annotate as you read. Annotations are notes in the margins that record your thoughts and ideas. You can underline, star, bracket, and/or highlight as annotation marks. Annotate both summer reading texts with one or two thoughtful examples of each of the following items. Label each example (“important imagery here,” for example). You will have a total of at least twelve annotations, six for each book. Your teacher will check your annotations when you return to school. 

    • Important imagery 
    • Character development 
    • Symbols 
    • Favorite passages 
    • Interesting use of language 
    • Questions 

    You should bring your texts to class on the first day of school. Be prepared to use the texts for the opening weeks of the course. They have been chosen specifically for their thematic and stylistic connections to the material of the course, so they will serve as important springboards to discussion and writing—experiences for which you should be fully prepared. 

    ELL-English Language Learners 

    International students’ level of English study will be determined according to a placement test administered during international student orientation in September. Based on the results of this test, students will be placed in an ELL or standard English section appropriate to their grade level. All ELL students will also be enrolled in a standard English class, pass/fail. Every student should read the required texts in English for his or her incoming grade level and attempt the summer reading assignment, regardless of whether she or he expects to be placed in an ELL class. 

    Entering Ninth Grade 

    • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare
    • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand 

    Entering Tenth Grade 

    • Flight by Sherman Alexie 
    • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi 

         Entering Eleventh Grade   

    • Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance 
    • How Much of These Hills is Gold by C. Pam Zhang

    Entering AP English 11
    (Language and Composition)  

    • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer 
    • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead 
    • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann  

    Entering Twelfth Grade
    (including PGs) 

    • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
    • Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

    Entering AP English 12
    (Literature and Composition) 

    • A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
    • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien  
    • The Autobiography of Malcolm X: As Told to Alex Haley by Malcom X and Alex Haley

  • History + Global Studies

    Ninth Grade Humanities Courses

    All ninth grade students should read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer and should type answers to the following questions to be handed in on the first day of school.

    • Curiosity: William’s curiosity about windmills changed his life and the lives of those in his village. What are you curious about and how might your curiosity impact your life and the lives of others in the future?
    • Organization: Could you imagine living without electricity? What would your life be like? How did the villagers compensate for not having electricity, telephones, or most of the modern conveniences we take for granted? What did electricity and the creation of the windmill mean for William, his family, and his village?
    • Reflection: William was desperate to stay in school but could not because of money. Think about American students. Why do you think with all the opportunities for schooling, students are disinterested in learning? In your opinion, what accounts for the differences between William and his American counterparts? Might William’s life be different if he had access to education without having to pay? How so?
    • Empathy: What lessons did you take away from William’s story? Which aspect of William’s story did you connect to and why?

    Standard World History AND European History

    Read this article:

     After reading the article, write a TEAM paragraph – Why do you think it’s important to study history?  (you may agree with one or more of the reasons given by Peter Stearns or may come up with your own reasons.)

    TEAM Guidelines:

    T: Topic Sentence

    • Clearly state your answer to the question (with a reason why), or the idea you’re trying to prove.

    E:  Evidence

    • Should contain 3 pieces of evidence
    • Quotes, statistics, and specific examples are all pieces of evidence

    A: Analysis

    • Explain why your evidence answers your question or proves your idea

    M: Mechanics

    • Pay close attention to grammar, spelling, and sentence structure
    • If you use a quote, cite it properly

    AP World History


    • Required – Read the Prologue of our textbook, Ways of the World, Fourth Edition, by Robert W. Strayer and Eric W. Nelson (pp. xlvii – liv)
    • Required – Chapters 3 and 4 in The Ways of the World, pp. 92 – 174. Read only the text, do not perform the various exercises included at the end of chapters. However, there will be a reading quiz on chapters 3 and 4 in the first week of school
      • Optional – Chapters 1 and 2 in The Ways of the World
    • Required – Read A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage


    • Additionally, for The Ways of the World, write an 800-1600 word essay based upon the following prompt.
      • “Religion is a double-edged sword, both supporting and undermining political authority and social elites. How would you support, refute, modify this statement using evidence from chapter four. (Worth two homework grades).
      • Essay requirements
        • An introduction with a thesis, at least two supporting body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph.
        • Each body paragraph should be supporting your thesis with evidence and analysis.
        • 800-1600 words. Include word count at the top of the first page.
        • Your essay should include a minimum of four quotations from the book. Cite the quotations and create a works cited to the best of your knowledge.

    Standard United States History

    10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America by Steven M. Gillon

    Write a basic summary of each chapter to be typed and turned in on the first day of class that includes the following:

    • The years the chapter encompasses
    • The primary individuals that participated in the events
    • What tensions or changes in American society did each event depict
    • What the outcome of each event revealed about American society at that particular time

    AP United States History

    10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America by Steven M. Gillon

    Write a detailed summary of each chapter to be typed and turned in on the first day of class that includes the following:

    • The years the chapter encompasses
    • The primary individuals that participated in the events
    • What tensions or changes in American society did each event depict
    • What the outcome of each event revealed about American society at that particular time

    Read Introduction and Chapters 1-3 in textbook: United States History, Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, complete some of the review exercises at the end of each chapter as practice (not to be turned in or graded). Be familiar with the historical thinking skills and historical themes that are explained in the introduction. Be prepared for a test on the summer reading assignment on the first or second day of classes.

    AP United States Government

    Thirteen American Arguments by Howard Fineman
    The Introduction: “For the Sake of Argument”

    American Character by Colin Woodward
    Chapter 1: “Maintaining Freedom”

    Download and complete the American Character worksheet here.

    AP Macro- and Microeconomics

    Part 1: Read: Freakonomics, Expanded Ed. by Steven D. Levitt

    Part 2:  Writing

    1. Summarize what you read in 2-3 pages
    2. Apply the Handy Dandy Guide to Economics to the text that you read by using THREE (3) of the Rules from the guide. Write one paragraph for each rule you choose that:
    3. Explains how what you read in the book reflects that rule. You should use examples from the text to support your points.
    4. If you feel that a lot of the book is tailored to Rule 2 then explain how so, citing examples from the text.
    5. You can and will cite like this (p. 145) or (145). No need for author since you’re only referencing this one book and you will note his name and the title at the top of your paper.

    Williston Scholars – History and Global Studies

    Read the Introduction and Chapters 1, 2 and 4 in Essaying the Past 4th Ed by Jim Cullen. Answer the following questions about AT LEAST TWO and NO MORE THAN FOUR potential topics for your paper.  Topics can range from History to Philosophy, Religion, or Economics.  Be creative and think of what you’re passionate about!

    1. One paragraph explaining the main idea of your paper. What are you going to study?  What do you hope to achieve?
    2. One paragraph that explains your interest in this topic. Why are you interested in this topic?  Can you trace the source of your interest?  Will this project connect to other areas of interest in your life?

    AP European History

    Read The Return of Martin Guerre by Natalie Zemon Davis.

    You are expected to provide typed responses to the following questions on the first day of class:

    1. Explain both the methods and sources that Zemon-Davis used in writing this book.
    2. Explain what you learned about each of the following in 16th century France from reading this book:  the justice system, gender roles, and peasant villages, traditions and lifestyles.
    3. Zemon-Davis had to make some assumptions about the feelings and motives of the main characters in the story.  Choose TWO characters and explain what Zemon-Davis thought his or her feelings and motives were and why she made these assumptions? – Martin, Bertrande, Pansette, Coras.

  • Languages

    AP Chinese

    Summer work for AP Chinese covers three AP-level articles with recording files for each article (see links below). Listen to the recording while you read the articles. Practice orally reading the articles in Chinese characters. You are expected to be able to orally read all three articles in Chinese characters 0n the first day of class.

    Articles | Audio recording 1 | Audio recording 2 | Audio recording 3

    Chinese IV

    Summer work for Chinese IV covers three short paragraphs in Chinese characters with recording files for each paragraph (see links below). Listen to the recording while you read the paragraphs. Practice oral reading the paragraphs in Chinese characters. You are expected to be able to oral read all three paragraphs in Chinese characters on the first day of class.

    Paragraphs | Audio recording 1 | Audio recording 2 | Audio recording 3

    AP French

    Note:  Parts of this work are to be submitted during the summer, not all at the end.  Review the formation and usage of all regular and irregular verbs found in the Blume/Stein French Three Years Workbook (through the Appendix) in the following tenses: présent, imperatif, passé composé, imparfait, conditionnel, futur proche, futur simple, and subjonctif. Keep a journal in which you write twice a month over the course of the summer, for 20 minutes each session. Sessions should be dated, and typed on a Word/Google document, attached in an email.  Two journal entries should be submitted on/before:  June 15, June 30, July 15, July 30, August 15, and August 30. The subject of at least one of the journal entries each month should be a new French song, article, or film, podcast, or social media posting of your choosing which you have seen over the summer and have reflected upon.  (For podcast suggestions, see Email your journal entries to

    AP Spanish

    Read an article from an online Spanish newspaper each month (June, July, and August) and submit a summary of the article, including the day the article was read and the name of the newspaper, to Mr. Garcia at In addition, email the answers to the following questions:

    • Why did you choose to read this article?
    • What did you learn from the article?
    • What did you think about the article?

    Online newspapers:,,, or any other e-publication from a Spanish-speaking country.

    You should also read a short story of your choice in Spanish and be ready to share your thoughts about it during the first week of classes.

  • Mathematics

    Please note: All documents listed in the “Optional Exercises” list are optional. This is the case even if a document says it’s required on the actual document.


    Next fall you will be starting a new math class. We hope that you will find the class interesting and challenging. Being successful is not an accident; it is the result of good preparation. To help you next year, please review the topics that you have studied in your previous math courses. All summer review work can be found below.

    The Math Department strongly recommends that summer homework be completed in August and a review be done in the week leading up to the opening of school.

    Below, you will find:

    1. Homework problems that are due on the first day of classes.

    2. More examples and practice problems, with answers relating to each topic.

    3. The only courses with REQUIRED summer work are Algebra 8 Honors, Algebra 8, Algebra 2 Honors, AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, Discrete Honors, Geometry Honors, and Precalculus Honors.

    Please print out the problems, complete them as best you can, check your answers, and bring your work on the first day of school. Please note that the problems on this webpage are intended for review purposes only and should not be used as any sort of placement guide.

    You will be tested on the topics related to your particular course within the first week of classes.


    A TI-84+ graphing calculator is required for all math courses. It is the only model for which classroom instruction is provided.


    Required Work

    Upper School

    Optional Exercises

    Algebra 1


    Algebra 2

    Trig, Prob & Stats




    AP Calculus AB

  • Science

    There is a significant amount of material to cover before the AP exams next May. Being successful is the result of thoughtful preparation and consistent effort on the part of both you and your teacher. We ask that you begin this process during the summer by reviewing topics covered in your previous courses. In addition, please check this page for detailed information pertaining to your class. You can expect to be tested on the assigned material during the first week of classes.

    AP Chemistry

    Teachers will be in touch with students over the summer regarding AP Chemistry coursework.

    AP Physics 1

    Teachers will be in touch with students over the summer regarding AP Physics 1 coursework.

    AP Physics C

    No summer coursework.

    AP Psychology

    Teachers will be in touch with students over the summer regarding AP Psychology coursework.

    AP Biology

    The AP Biology course will begin with a rapid review of basic chemistry and biological information that students should be familiar with as part of their prerequisite course of study. In support of your review, you will need to read Chapters 1 through 4 in the textbook. This information will be tested during the first week of the course. For the 2021-2022 school year we will be using Campbell – Biology in Focus 3rd Edition by Urry (AP Edition: ISBN 9780134710679). This book is now in its 3rd edition specific to studying AP Biology having been developed to coincide well with the recently redesigned AP Biology curriculum. It should also come with a login code for a companion website that we will routinely utilize.

    AP Environmental Science

    Friedland, Andrew and Relyea, Rick
    Environmental Science for the APCourse,  Third Edition Copyright 2019
    Bedford, Freeman & Worth High School Publishing, New York, NY
    ISBN-10: 1-319-11329-X
    ISBN-13: 978-1-319-11329-2

    • Read and take notes on Unit 1. This includes Chapter 1 (Environmental Science: Studying the State of our Earth) and Chapter 2 (Environmental Systems)
    • Complete the Chapter 1 AP Environmental Science Practice Exam Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) 1-11 and Free-Response Questions (FRQs) 1-2 on pages 30 – 31. The MCQs will be handed in for grading on the first day of class.
    • Complete the Chapter 2 AP Environmental Science Practice Exam Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) 1-14 and Free-Response Questions (FRQs) 1-2 on pages 62-64. The MCQs will be handed in for grading on the first day of class.

  • Visual + Performing Arts

    AP Studio Art:

    1. Purchase a 9″ x 12″ Mixed Media sketchbook. (50+ pages)
    2. On the first page tell us a bit about yourself as an artist: What’s your experience with art? What materials do you prefer to work with? What subject matter (if any) is your favorite to create? In AP Studio Art, what techniques would you like to learn? What new materials or subject matters would you like to pursue?
    3. On the next full spread of your sketchbook (two, 9″ x 12″ pages), create a mood board in which you explore the idea of “HOME” in a mood board (Mood Boards should include: photographs, magazine collage, color swatches, small sketches, rubbings, written thoughts, poems, stories, artists you’re inspired by).


    Williston Scholars Performing Arts:

    Have a project proposal ready for instructor review for the start of T1.

  • Summer College Essay Requirement (for rising seniors)

    As a part of summer assignments, all rising seniors are required to write their college essay over the summer. Given the pace of the academic year and the timing of college application deadlines, we view the summer as the best time to focus on this central part of your college applications. You should plan to submit your essay to your college counselor as an email attachment by the beginning of Welcome Days in September. Please see the College Counseling website and consult with your College Counselor for assistance.

    Instructions: “What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response.”

    2020-2021 Common Application Essay Prompts

    1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

    2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure.How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

    3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

    4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

    5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

    6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

    7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

  • Optional Departmental Recommendations

    More titles can be found at Follow the link for Suggested Reading.


    • Art and Max by David Wiesner
    • The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
    • Maus I: A Survivor’s Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
    • Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland
    • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron


    • Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989 by Michael Beschloss
    • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
    • The Garden of Martyrs by Michael C. White
    • A Partial History of Lost Causes by Jennifer DuBois ’02
    • Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
    • The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
    • A Border Passage by Leila Ahmed
    • The Autobiography of Malcolm X
    • Baraka (film), directed by Ron Fricke



    • Entre Nos directed by Gloria La Morte and Paola Mendoza, NR


    • Le Petit Nicolas, directed by Lauren Tirard, PG


    • The Seven Wonders of Ancient Rome, Discovery Channel documentary narrated by John Shrapnel, 2004


    • Mulan, directed by Tony Bancroft, G


    • Fantasia Mathematica by Clifton Fadiman, ed.
    • The Mathematical Magpie by Clifton Fadiman, ed.
    • Proof by David Auburn


    • Backyard Ballistics by William Gurstelle
    • Leonardo’s Mountain of Clams, Diet of Worms by Stephen J. Gould
    • The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson
    • The Microbe Hunters by Paul de Kruif and F. Gonzalez-Crussi
    • What is Life? by Lynn Margulis and Dorian Sagan

Middle School Summer Coursework

  • Middle School Mathematics

    Seventh graders enrolled in Pre-Algebra do not have summer math work.

    Algebra Standard or Algebra Honors

    Students taking Algebra Standard or Algebra Honors are required to complete this summer homework:

  • 7th Grade Summer Reading Assignment

    First, read both of these books:

    • Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan
    • The Giver by Lois Lowry


    For Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan:

    Throughout much of the 1st Trimester, we will be discussing the theme of “breaking the norm,” using literary characters, such as Esperanza Rising’s protagonist, Esperanza Ortega, as a basis for continued discourse. How does our main character, Esperanza Ortega, “break the norm” and positively impact others, regardless of the community she finds herself embracing? How do you utilize similar character traits during your day-to-day lives?

    Please respond in 1-2 pages, using the following formatting prompt (we will use the same parameters throughout the year):

    • Times New Roman Font
    • Double-spaced
    • Size 12
    • Name (top left corner)
    • Title
    • Due: first day back from summer vacation.

  • 8th Grade Summer Reading Assignment

    8th Grade Summer Reading Assignment 

    Read both of the following books: 

    • La Linea by Ann Jaramillo 
    • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 

    Next, complete the following writing assignment: 

    Throughout this upcoming year we will explore texts that involve characters who make decisions that are affected by the society and/or environment they are living in. In The Book Thief, how do characters conform or rebel against societal standards and expectations? Use specific examples from the book to support your ideas. 


    • 1 ½ – 2 pages in length, double spaced 
    • Times New Roman, 12 point font 
    • Cite the text if using direct quotes 
    • Include a title for your paper 
    • Proper heading (Top left corner: name, date, teacher) 
    • Due on the first day of class 

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