12th Grade Reading list

Poems

The Best American Poetry 2014 (The Best American Poetry series) by David Lehamn

Since 1988, The Best American Poetry has been the leading anthology of contemporary American poetry. TheWashington Post said of the 2017 edition, “The poems…have a wonderful cohesion and flow, as if each contributes to a larger narrative about life today…While readers may question some of the selections—an annual sport with this series—most will find much that resonates, including the insightful author notes at the back of the anthology.”

The state of the world has inspired many to write poetry, and to read it—to share all the rage, beauty, and every other thing under the sun in the way that only poetry can. Now the foremost anthology of contemporary American poetry returns, guest edited by Major Jackson, the poet and editor who, “makes poems that rumble and rock” (poet Dorianne Laux). This brilliant 2019 edition includes some of the year’s most defining, striking, and innovative poems and poets. – Amazon

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba’s Greatest Abolitionist by Margarita Engle

Opposing slavery in Cuba in the nineteenth century was dangerous. The most daring abolitionists were poets who veiled their work in metaphor. Of these, the boldest was Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, nicknamed Tula. In passionate, accessible verses of her own, Engle evokes the voice of this book-loving feminist and abolitionist who bravely resisted an arranged marriage at the age of fourteen, and was ultimately courageous enough to fight against injustice. Historical notes, excerpts, and source notes round out this exceptional tribute. – Amazon

You Don’t Even Know Me: Stories and Poems About Boys by Sharon Flake

In 9 stories and 15 poems, Sharon G. Flake provides insight into the minds of a diverse group adolescent African American males. There’s Tow-Kaye, getting married at age 16 to love of his life, who’s pregnant. He knows it’s the right thing to do, but he’s scared to death. James writes in his diary about his twin brother’s terrible secret, which threatens to pull James down, too. Tyler explains what it’s like to be a player with the ladies. In a letter to his uncle, La’Ron confesses that he’s infected with HIV. Eric takes us on a tour of North Philly on the Fourth of July, when the heat could make a guy go crazy. Still, he loves his hood. These and other unforgettable characters come to life in this collection of urban male voices. Sharon’s G. Flake’s talent for telling it like it is will leave readers thinking differently, feeling deeply, and definitely wanting more. – Amazon

Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill

On a bleak February day in 1963 a young American poet died by her own hand, and passed into a myth that has since imprinted itself on the hearts and minds of millions. She was and is Sylvia Plath and Your OwnSylvia is a portrait of her life, told in poems.

With photos and an extensive list of facts and sources to round out the reading experience, Your Own, Sylvia is a great curriculum companion to Plath’s The Bell Jar and Ariel, a welcoming introduction for newcomers, and an unflinching valentine for the devoted. – Amazon

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.

Christine Heppermann’s collection of fifty poems puts the ideals of fairy tales right beside the life of the modern teenage girl. With piercing truths reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, this is a powerful and provocative book for every young woman. E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls it “a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that’s caustic, funny, and heartbreaking.”

Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how girls are taught to think about themselves, their bodies, and their friends. The poems range from contemporary retellings to first-person accounts set within the original tales, and from deadly funny to deadly serious. Complemented throughout with black-and-white photographs from up-and-coming artists, this is a stunning and sophisticated book to be treasured, shared, and paged through again and again. – Amazon

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Her father is abusive, her mother is submissive, and her church looks the other way. Confused and angry, Pattyn Von Stratten acts out and is sent to live with an aunt on a Nevada ranch. She finds the love and acceptance she craves, with disturbing consequences. – Amazon

SOLD by Patricia McCormick

Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, like playing hopscotch with her best friend from school and having her mother brush her hair by the light of an oil lamp. But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family. He introduces her to a glamorous stranger who tells her she will find her a job as a maid in the city. Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution. 

An old woman named Mumtaz rules the brothel with cruelty and cunning. She tells Lakshmi that she is trapped there until she can pay off her family’s debt – then cheats Lakshmi of her meager earnings so that she can never leave. Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. – Amazon

Dizzy in Your Eyes: Poems about Love by Pat Mora

Beloved children’s book author and speaker Pat Mora has written an original collection of poems, each with a different teen narrator sharing unique thoughts, moments, sadness, or heart’s desire: the girl who loves swimming, plunging into the water that creates her own world; the guy who leaves flowers on the windshield of the girl he likes. Each of the teens in these 50 original poems, written using a variety of poetic forms, will be recognizable to the reader as the universal emotions, ideas, impressions, and beliefs float across the pages in these gracefully told verses. – Amazon

Street Love by Walter Dean Myers

Your first love is totally wrong for you. 

Do you follow your heart? 

Or do you run away? 

Junice

What am I doing? He’ll take one quick look and wish he was anywhere else but here. 

I’m already ashamed of what I think he will think of me, of the life I lead…

Damien 

Yes, she is the fruit that will sustain me and yes, she brings a rain that I know can chill.

But it is a rain so sweet and sings a song my soul insists that I follow, if I would exist.

As more than I have ever, ever been if my mother calls it evil, then I embrace the sin. – Amazon

How I Discovered Poetry (Ala Notable Children’s Books. Older Readers) by Marilyn Nelson

A powerful and thought-provoking Civil Rights era memoir from one of America’s most celebrated poets.

Looking back on her childhood in the 1950s, Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson tells the story of her development as an artist and young woman through fifty eye-opening poems. Readers are given an intimate portrait of her growing self-awareness and artistic inspiration along with a larger view of the world around her: racial tensions, the Cold War era, and the first stirrings of the feminist movement.

A first-person account of African-American history, this is a book to study, discuss, and treasure. – Amazon

A Fire in My Hands: A Book of Poems by Gary Soto

Few writers capture the everyday moments of life like Gary Soto. In direct and vivid poems, he draws from his own youth in California’s Central Valley to portray the joys and sorrows of young people. His writing focuses on Latino characters, yet speaks to readers of all ethnicities. Acclaimed by educators since its original publication in 1998, A Fire in My Hands has been revised and expanded in this new edition. Old and new fans of Soto’s work will welcome the return of his compelling poems. – Amazon

Plays

A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen

A Doll’s House (Norwegian: Et dukkehjem; also translated as A Doll House) is a three-act play in prose by Henrik Ibsen. It premiered at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 21 December 1879, having been published earlier that month. The play is significant for its critical attitude toward 19th century marriage norms. It aroused great controversy at the time, as it concludes with the protagonist, Nora, leaving her husband and children because she wants to discover herself. Ibsen was inspired by the belief that “a woman cannot be herself in modern society,” since it is “an exclusively male society, with laws made by men and with prosecutors and judges who assess feminine conduct from a masculine standpoint.” Its ideas can also be seen as having a wider application: Michael Meyer argued that the play’s theme is not women’s rights, but rather “the need of every individual to find out the kind of person he or she really is and to strive to become that person.” In a speech given to the Norwegian Association for Women’s Rights in 1898, Ibsen insisted that he “must disclaim the honor of having consciously worked for the women’s rights movement,” since he wrote “without any conscious thought of making propaganda,” his task having been “the description of humanity.” – Amazon

On the Razzle by Johann Nestroy and Tom Stoppard

This recent hit in London is a free adaptation of the 19th century farce by Johann Nestroy that provided the plot for Thornton Wilder’s The Merchant of Yonkers, which led to The Matchmaker, which led to Hello, Dolly. The story is basically one long chase, chiefly after two naughty grocer’s assistants who, when their master goes off on a binge with a new mistress, escape to Vienna on a spree. “While preserving the beautiful intricacies of this construction, Stoppard has embellished Razzle with a dazzle of verbal wit an unremitting firework display of puns, crossword puzzle tricks and sly sexual innuendos.” London Daily Telegraph . “Apart from Jumpers and The Importance of Being Earnest there may be no script in English funnier than On the Razzle.” – Amazon

A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O’Neill

Eugene O’Neill’s last completed play, A Moon for the Misbegotten is a sequel to his autobiographical Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Moon picks up eleven years after the events described in Long Day’s Journey Into Night, as Jim Tyrone (based on O’Neill’s older brother Jamie) grasps at a last chance at love under the full moonlight. – Amazon

Hamlet (Signet Classics Shakespeare) by William Shakespeare

Considered by many as Shakespeare’s masterpiece and one of the greatest dramas of all time, “Hamlet” is the story of its titular character, the Prince of Denmark who discovers that his uncle, Claudius, is responsible for the murder of his father. Claudius has murdered Hamlet’s father, his own brother, in order to usurp the throne of Denmark and to marry Hamlet’s widowed mother. Sunk into a state of despair, Hamlet is torn between his grief over his father’s death and his desire for revenge. “Hamlet” is a work of great complexity and as such has drawn many different critical interpretations. Hamlet has been seen as a victim of circumstance, as an impractical idealist, as an opportunist, as the sufferer of a great melancholy, and as a man blinded by his own desire for revenge. Through the great deliberation with which Hamlet ponders his revenge, Shakespeare brilliantly dramatizes the complex philosophical and ethical issues that are at stake with such a violent action. The depth of characterization and literary craft that is exhibited in the work has elevated -Amazon

The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays by Tom Stoppard

Culled from nearly twenty years of the playwright’s career, a showcase for Tom Stoppard’s dazzling range and virtuosic talent, The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays is essential reading for fans of modern drama. The plays in this collection reveal Stoppard’s sense of fun, his sense of theater, his sense of the absurd, and his gifts for parody and satire. – Amazon

After Magritte by Tom Stoppard

The play begins with an astonished policeman looking through the window of a house where a group of people are posed in a bizarre, surreal tableau reminiscent of the paintings of René Magritte. Finding this suspicious, he calls in his inspector.

Inside the room, a rational explanation for the tableau gradually becomes apparent. Two ballroom dancers, a man and a woman named Reginald and Thelma Harris, are hurriedly getting ready for an event. A lampshade which had used bullets as a counterweight has broken and a woman crawls on the floor to look for them. The mother plays the tuba.

The inspector arrives and asks about the family’s memories of a man they had seen outside of the Tate Gallery, where a René Magritte exhibit is being held. He invents an entirely false story, accusing the family of complicity in a crime known as the Crippled Minstrel Caper. As he continues, the stage picture becomes increasingly ridiculous. For instance, the couple offers the inspector a banana as the male dancer stands on one foot. One scene is even performed in total darkness.[6] By the end of the play, the characters are posed in another Magritte-like tableau. -Wikipedia

Two Trains Running by Andrew Vachss

Electrifying, compelling, and ultimately terrifying, Two Trains Running is a galvanizing evocation of that moment in our history when the violent forces that would determine America’s future were just beginning to roil below the surface. 

Once a devastated mill town, by 1959 Locke City has established itself as a thriving center of vice tourism. The city is controlled by boss Royal Beaumont, who took it by force many years ago and has held it against all comers since.

Now his domain is being threatened by an invading crime syndicate. But in a town where crime and politics are virtually indivisible, there are other players awaiting their turn onstage.

Emmett Till’s lynching has inflamed a nascent black revolutionary movement. A neo-Nazi organization is preparing for race war. Juvenile gangs are locked in a death struggle over useless pieces of “turf”. And some shadowy group is supplying them all with weapons. With an IRA unit and a Mafia family also vying for local supremacy, it’s no surprise that the whole town is under FBI surveillance. But that agency is being watched, too.

Beaumont ups the ante by importing a hired killer, Walker Dett, a master tactician whose trademark is wholesale destruction. But there are a number of wild cards in this game, including Jimmy Procter, an investigative reporter whose tools include stealth, favor-trading, and blackmail, and Sherman Layne, the one clean Locke City cop, whose informants range from an obsessed “watcher” who patrols the edge of the forest, where cars park for only one reason, to the madam of the county’s most expensive bordello. But Layne is guarding a secret of his own, one that could destroy more than his career. 

Even the most innocent are drawn into the ultimate-stakes game – like Tussy Chambers, the beautiful waitress whose mystically deep connection with Walker Dett might inadvertently ignite the whole combustible mix. 

In a stunning departure from his usual territory, Andrew Vachss gives us a masterful novel that is also an epic story of postwar America. Not since Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest has there been as searing a portrait of corruption in a small town. This is Vachss’ most ambitious, innovative, and explosive work yet. – Amazon

Fiction

The Strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Oedipus Rex by Sophocles

Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Here I stand A Life of Martin Luther by Roland H. Bainton

The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Stopping by woods on a snowy Evening by Robert Frost

Self Reliance and other essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

Between Shades of Gray by Ruth Sepetys

What happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

The Shadow of the wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

The five people you meet in heaven by Mitch Albom

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick

A Tale of two cities by Charles Dickens

The hate u give by Angie Thomas

The serpent king by Jeff Zenter

The three questions by Jon J. Muth

The Steep and Thorny Way by cat winters

The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

A time to Dance by Parma Venkatraman

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulpert

This mortal coil by Emily suvada

Where things come back by John Corey Whaley

Words in deep blue by Cath Crowley

My sisters keeper by Jodi picoult

A secret history of witches by Louisa Morgan

Jonathon Livingston seagull by Richard beach

The book of mistakes by Corinna Luyken

Grasshopper jungle by Andrew Smith

Jellicoe road by melina marchetta

Water for elephants by Sara gruen

The night circus by Erin morgenstern

I

Non Fiction

Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Fast Food Nation by Eric Scholosser

Looking for Alaska by John Green

The last lecture by Randy Pausch

The 57 bus: A True Story of two teenagers and the crime that changed their lives by Dashka Slater

Survivors club: the true story of a young prisoner of auschwitz by Michael Bornstein

Unbroken: an olympians journey from airmen to castaway to captive by Laura Hillebrand

Kisses from Katie by Katie J. Davis

The poisonwood bible by Barbara kingsolver

The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business by Charles Duhigg

The crossroads of should and must: find and follow your passions by Elle Luna