36 Books to Read Before Finishing High School

June 28, 2008

Books to read before finishing high school

Here’s an eclectic list of books that students might like to try reading in each year level (Year 7 through to Year 12). They include:

  • Alice in Wonderland, the great, Lewis Carrol’s children’s classic
  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, the mystery that launched Agatha Christie
  • We are the weather makers, Tim Flannery’s lucid and compelling explanation of global warming
  • Our sunshine, Robert Drewe’s lyrical account of Ned Kelly’s life
  • Years of rice and salt, Kim Stanley Robinson’s speculative account of world history after the plague wipes out European civilisation
  • Long walk to freedom, Nelson Mandela’s inspirational and enlightening life story

Download the complete list now (36-books-to-read-before-you-leave-high-school).

The list includes fiction and non-fiction books and the selection was based on the assumption of three books read per semester (that is, six books a year). Of course, this limited what could be included and the selection process has resulted in a list which I’m sure will be controversial – so feel free to modify the inclusions to suit your own school. The list is meant to be generative and in no way comprehensive or mandatory.

For your information, selections were based on a number of – at times conflicting – criteria:

  1. Is the book of literary and/or cultural merit?
  2. Is the book suitable for the year group – language and content?
  3. Does it offer something a bit different from the norm?
  4. Will the book challenge readers in some way?
  5. Will the book encourage further reading and exploration?
  6. Are the books representative across a range of dimensions, e.g. gender, genre, eras, fiction and non-fiction, cultures etc? While I have been as careful as I could, ultimately the self-imposed limit of 36 books has also limited my ability to be entirely representative.
  7. Do the books have proven success with students? In most cases, the books are ones that have been recommended by students themselves.

Let me know what you think. What else would you include?

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