It’s 111 degrees right now. It’s summer.
I teach 9th graders. That means I’m not working right now. If you’re a 9th grader, you must be having a really boring summer if you’re reading this. If you’re a teacher or a parent and want something good to read for your child or for yourself, here you go.
Although this is a compilation of things to read for 9th graders, you don’t have to be a 9th grader to read what’s on it.
Animal Farm by George Orwell. This checks all the boxes for an excellent summer read. So whether you’re putting together a 9th grade summer reading list or one for yourself, put this one on it. Oh, back to that checklist: (1) It’s short and, hey, it’s summer; (2) It’s written at a level that can be understood while you’re sitting on a beach; (3) It can also be read on a highly symbolic level. There’s more to Animal Farm than a bunch of pigs manipulating their way to tyranny; (4) It’s taught in many high schools.
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I do not exaggerate when I say I’ve read Ender’s Game 19 times. I’ve read it to three classes for six years, plus I’ve read it on my own. Although it is enjoyed by most, it appeals to boys. Books that appeal to boys are priceless, especially if, well, you’re a boy or parent one. Even if you’re not a science fiction fan, you can’t help but be impressed by the 237,612 science fiction awards Orson Scott Card has won. This book, too, can be read on a beach or an airplane while traveling to outerspace, or, ideally, while away at some horrible summer camp.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. There’s lots of swearing in this one, so you’re 9th-grader will love it. If your 9th-grader doesn’t like swearing, I’ve made an edited version (hello, public domain). Some day I’ll even post it here. This is more of a “it’s 112 degrees and I just want to curl up in front of the air conditioner” read. Don’t ever read this while riding the stationary bike at the athletic club. It could lead to tears and strange looks. You‘ll likely encounter Of Mice and Men in high school.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Great story. Serious themes. Quick read. My wife wanted me to bring home books for my daughter (going into 8th grade) to read this summer. I grabbed To Kill a Mockingbird on my way out the door for the summer so I could say I brought something home, not thinking my daughter would actually read it. She had it read on like day 2 of summer vacation. Looks like I’m the hero.
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. This is a great book to read immediately before engaging in a gang fight on a warm summer’s evening. It’s also a great book to read at the beach, in the mountains, on the couch, or while in line for 2.5 hours at Disneyland. Although your honors student will enjoy this title immensely, it’s also likely to make a mark with a struggling reader. There’s a great movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola based on the book.
Call of the Wild by Jack London. You’ll definitely encounter Jack London at some point in high school whether it’s his most popular novel Call of the Wild or his nearly as popular White Fang. If not a novel, you’ll be sure to come across one of his short stories, most likely “To Build a Fire.”
Eragon by Christopher Paolini. I recall a conversation I had about 8 years ago about Eragon. It occurred to me suddenly that I was reading books with dragons on the cover, at least it was a really good book with a dragon on the cover. I strongly recommend you read it.
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I taught this book to 9th graders for 5 years. Only about 2% of students liked it. I don’t teach it anymore, so I thought I’d put it on here to keep torturing 9th graders. Just kidding (kind of). If you or someone you know is looking for a 9th grade summer reading list consisting of high level books with themes that appeal to teenagers, this is the book for that list. It’s really a good book. It is. I swear. You can even read it on the beach.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Come on, already! It’s summer. Give me something really fun to read.