Summer Reading + Course Preparation 2019-2020

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. 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

    • 1984 by George Orwell
    • The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

    Entering Eleventh Grade

    • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
    • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    Entering AP English 11
    (Language and Composition)

    • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • 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.

    Entering twelfth grade
    (including PGs)

    • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
    • Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

    Entering AP English 12
    (Literature and Composition)

    • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
    • The Tempest by William Shakespeare
    • Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
    • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams

  • 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?

    World History Standard

    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 World History


    • Required – Read the Prologue of our textbook, Ways of the World, AP Edition (ISBN: 978-1-319-17349-4), by Robert W. Strayer and Eric W. Nelson (pp. xlvii – liv)
    • Required – Chapters 2 and 3 in The Ways of the World, pp. 58 – 139
      • Optional – Chapter 1 in The Ways of the World
    • Required – Read A History of the World in Six Glasses by Tom Standage


    • For The Ways of the World, answer five of the margin questions labeled “AP” in each chapter, for a total of ten questions. You can choose any ten you wish, but answer the questions as fully as you can.
      • Be sure to include the label, question, and page number (e.g., “AP Contextualization: In what ways did empires both benefit and constrain the lives of people during the second-wave era?”
    • For A History of the World in Six Glasses, define and contextualize the following terms. Number each term, answering the questions: who, what, where, why and how. (In other words provide significant detail without wordiness). Next, explain how this term is significant in relation to history and to the beverage under discussion. The terms are roughly in order in which they appear in the book. You must provide page numbers for only one encounter of the term, ideally the first.
      • SAMPLE:
        • Symposia: (Pg. 3) Formal drinking parties in which philosophy, politics, literature, science and poetry were discussed and/or performed. Wine was the chosen drink for these male-only gatherings, in which ideas were discussed, in a forum in which all attendees were treated as equals regardless of their social status. These symposia were significant because they were key in spreading and testing ideas in the Greek and later the Roman world. They served as models for the democratic Greek society.
    01. Fertile Crescent 15. Charles Martel 29. Celestial Empire
    02. Chicha 16. Cordoba 30. Richard Arkwright
    03. Storehouses 17. Aqua vitae 31. Tea Act of 1773
    04. Uruk 18. Dashee/bizy 32. Lin Tze-Su
    05. Sumer 19. 1773 Molasses Act 33. Indian Mutiny
    06. Epic of Gilgamesh 20. Sugar Act 34. John Matthews
    07. Ziggurat 21. Sufi Islam 35. the Great Depression
    08. Mesopotamian city-states 22. Dutch East India Co. 36. World War II
    09. Cuneiform 23. Principia 37. Capitalism
    10. Ashurnasirpal II 24. Wealth of Nations 38. Democracy
    11. Dionysius 25. Voltaire 39. Imperialism
    12. Plato’s Republic 26. Encyclopedie 40. Anti-Semitism
    13. Roman villas 27. Changan
    14. Battle of Tours 28. Lu Yu


    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 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 Macro- and Microeconomics

    Part 1: Read a book – CHOOSE ONE.

    • Cod — Mark Kurlansky
    • Coal Barbara Freese
    • Salt — Mark Kurlansky
    • Freakonomics Steven D. Levitt

    Part 2:  Writing

    1. Summarize what you read in 2-3 paragraphs.
    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. E.g. If you feel a lot of the book tailored to Rule 2 then explain how it did 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.

    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.

    Williston Scholars – History and Global Studies

    Read the Introduction and Chapters 1, 2 and 4 in Essaying the Past 3rd 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?
    3. A list of 5-7 questions about your topic.

  • 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.  By July 30, half of this work should be emailed to instructor Rita Plouffe at  The other half of the work is expected on the first day of class.

    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 twice a month over the course of the summer, for 20 minutes each session. Sessions should be dated. The subject of at least one of the journal entries should be a new French song or French film of your choosing which you have seen over the summer. Twice each month, email your journal entries to

    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:

    • 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

    No summer coursework.

    AP Physics 2

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

    AP Physics C

    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 2019-2020 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

    Friedland, Andrew and Relyea, Rick
    Environmental Science for the AP* Course,  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.”

    2019-20 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
    • The Giver by Lois Lowry


    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.

  • 8th Grade Summer Reading Assignment

    Read both of the following books:

    • The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster
    • 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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