Summer Reading + Course Preparation 2018-19

Below you’ll find all the information you 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 thorough reading of the prescribed books will help you do just that. We also have added some optional titles at the end of this page for your personal enjoyment, and we hope you’ll read as many as you can.

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

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. For the summer reading texts, annotate your text with one to two thoughtful examples of each of the following items. 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. 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

    • Montana, 1948 by Larry Watson
    • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

    Entering Tenth Grade

    • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
    • The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson

    Entering Eleventh Grade

    • The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
    • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    Entering AP English 11
    (Language and Composition)

    • The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
    • Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
    • Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
    • Barron’s AP Language and Composition
    1. Read chapter 1 and complete the multiple choice section of the diagnostic test.
    2. Review the answer explanations and create a list of terms and concepts unfamiliar to you.

    Entering twelfth grade
    (including PGs)

    • Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann
    • The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson

    Entering AP English 12
    (Literature and Composition)

    • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
    • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
    • The Star Side of Bird Hill by Naomi Jackson
    • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

  • History + Global Studies

    Ninth Grade Humanities Course

    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?

    World Civilizations

    Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    You are expected to provide printed, typed responses to the following questions on the first day of class. Please write in complete sentences, provide at least three specific examples for each question, and use quotation marks and page numbers when quoting from the novel.

    1. Kambili describes, in detail, the many different aspects of nature, including plants, insects and weather. How does geography and environment (setting) impact the plot and the characters in the novel?
    2. What does the novel, as a whole, say about the nature of religion? What does it say about the relationship between people’s beliefs and their behavior?
    3. What has the novel revealed to you about life in Nigeria? What similarities or differences do you see between life and culture in Nigeria and life and culture in your society?
    4. Identify a passage or scene in the novel that you felt was significant and would like to discuss with other students. What did you find interesting or significant from this passage that made you select it?

    AP European History

    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.

    In addition, read the Introduction and Chapter 11: The Middle Ages in the text: A History of Western Society 11th Edition for AP. Be familiar with the historical thinking skills and historical themes that are explained in the introduction. Complete “Identify the Key Terms” and “Review the Main Ideas” at the end of the chapter in preparation for a test in the first week of school.

    Standard United States History

    The Garden of Martyrs by Michael C. White

    Students are expected to provide typed responses to the following questions on the first day of class.

    1. What does the garden of martyrs in the title refer to?
    2. While Daley and Halligan are both Irish, the novel presents them as quite different men. In what ways are they different?
    3. Halligan is a man very much troubled by a love left behind in Ireland. Cheverus tries to help him confess his sins, but Halligan is not, as he himself concedes, particularly religious. As he approaches his death, what conclusion does he reach about the nature of love and forgiveness?
    4. Though they are intellectually and spiritually opposite, both Cheverus and Halligan have dark secrets in their pasts. How do the inner conflicts resulting from those secrets bring the two men closer together?
    5. Why is Cheverus, as a representative of the Catholic Church, at first reluctant to get involved with the fate of the two Irishmen?
    6. Cheverus finds in his “heart of hearts” some of the same prejudices and biases toward the Irish that the general populace holds. Why is this and how does he finally overcome them?
    7. Fiona Daley makes Father Cheverus uncomfortable. Why?
    8. The three main characters are all immigrants. How is the novel, however, about the quintessential American spirit?

    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 text: United States History, Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination, 2016 Edition, complete the review exercises at the end of each chapter and know the terms that are listed at the end of each chapter. 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 Microeconomics

    Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

    • Please read the “Explanatory Note,” “Introduction,” and Chapter One.
    • Answer the question for Chapter One in a maximum of one page.

    AP Comparative Government and Politics

    Read Part One: Concepts for Comparison in the AP Comparative Government and Politics: An Essential Coursebook, 7th Edition by Ethel Wood. Written definitions for the “Important Terms and Concepts” listed as the end of the reading are due on the first day of class.

  • Languages

    AP Chinese

    Watch two Chinese movies and be able to describe (orally, in Chinese) the content of the movies and explain their cultural significance. You’ll be asked to share this with your classmates in the first week of class.

    Students will need to practice their computer input skills with Chinese characters. Students will be given a summer assignment package which includes studying “HSK” IV and AP vocabulary and completing the corresponding listening, reading and writing assignments. Students have the option of emailing their work to instructor Rita Plouffe at

    AP French

    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 et conditionnel passé, futurs proche, simple and anterieur, subjonctif and plus-que-parfait. Keep a journal in which you write eight times over the course of the summer, for 20 minutes each session. Sessions should be dated.

    You should listen to a new French song or watch a French film of your choosing over the course of the summer, and it should be the subject of at least one of the journal entries. You should choose a song or film that interests you.

    AP Latin

    Purchase the required AP Latin textbook, Caesar: Selections from his Commentarii de Bello Gallico, by Hans-Friedrich Mueller (Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, Mundelein, Illinois, 2012, ISBN-13: 978-0-86516-752-0). Translate the Latin of Book 1, Chapters 1-7 (pp. 3-42). Read the English translation of Books 1, 6 and 7 (pp. 199-305). Read any English translation of Vergil’s Aeneid, Books 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 and 12. (Allen Mandelbaum’s Bantam Classic verse translation is recommended, ISBN 13: 978-0553210415). You will need copies of both books for the entire school year. It is also recommended that you study the course-specific vocabulary available from your teacher, or purchase Caesar and Vergil Vocabulary Cards (David Pellegrino and Dennis De Young, Authors).

    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:

    1. Why did you choose to read this article?
    2. What did you learn from the article?
    3. 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

    No summer coursework.

    AP Psychology

    No summer 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 2017-18 school year we will be using Campbell – Biology in Focus by Urry (AP Edition: ISBN 978-0-13-427891-9). This book is the 2nd edition having been developed to coincide well with the recently redesigned AP Biology curriculum. In addition, registration instructions and a login code for the companion website, which typically includes a free electronic interactive text, will be sent (as soon as, and if they are available) to all approved, enrolled students via Williston email by the course instructor.

    AP Environmental Science

    A) Read Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

    There are many study guides available on the Internet. Pick one and use it to help you understand the messages in her book. Be prepared to engage in a thoughtful, knowledgeable discussion as well as take a quiz on the content during the first days of the course.

    B) Complete this required reading and questions from our textbook. You must have this particular edition:

    Friedland, Andrew and Relyea, Rick
    Environmental Science for AP* Second Edition Copyright 2015
    W.H. Freeman and Company/BFW New York, NY
    ISBN-10: 1-4641-0868-4
    ISBN-13: 978-1-4641-0868-6

    • 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 28 and 29.
    • Complete the Chapter 2 AP Environmental Science Practice Exam Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs) 1-14 and Free-Response Questions (FRQs) 1-2 on pages 58-60.

  • 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.”

    2018-19 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:

    • Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl
    • New Boy by Julian Houston

    Next, choose one of the two assignments below:

    Assignment Choice One:

    For Promise the Night by Michaela MacColl

    Throughout much of the 1st Trimester, we will be discussing the theme of “breaking the norm,” using literary characters, such as Promise the Night’s protagonist, Beryl Markham, as a basis for continued discourse. Throughout the story, author Michaela MacColl provides readers with a well-researched piece of historical fiction, complete with relatable storylines and valuable life lessons.

    How does our main character, Beryl Markham, “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.

    Assignment Choice Two:

    For New Boy by Julian Houston

    In Julian Houston’s fictional piece New Boy, 16-year-old protagonist Rob Garrett is tasked with breaking the color barrier at a prestigious Connecticut boarding school. Impressively, Rob works hard to find a balance between his academic desires and thirst for activism, en route to positively impacting the community around him.

    Which character traits allow our protagonist to overcome adversity? How might similar characteristics or actions help you succeed at the Williston Northampton School?

  • 8th Grade Summer Reading Assignment

    Read The Giver by Lois Lowry and one of the books on the following list:

    • The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
    • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
    • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
    • The Californios by Louis L’Amour
    • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Purchasing Text Books

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