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What to read: Ideas for students entering high school and college

By Jennifer Newberry


student readingMaking time for a good book or two during the summer is a great way for students about to enter high school or college to enrich their education, according to Philip Nel, an associate professor of English at Kansas State University. Nel, who specializes in children's literature, offers lists of books he thinks students should read before entering high school or heading off to college; included are his thoughts on each selection.

High school
* "The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963" by Christopher Paul Curtis, to see why the past is worth studying.
* "The Sea of Trolls" by Nancy Farmer, to think about politics, terrorism and hope.
* "The Story of Ferdinand" by Munro Leaf, because you should be yourself.
* "Moominsummer Madness" by Tove Jansson, because it is fun.
* "Harold and the Purple Crayon" by Crockett Johnson, to liberate the imagination.
* "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster, to be reminded why learning is exciting.
* "Frederick" by Leo Lionni, because art is necessary.
* "Grandfather's Journey" by Allen Say, to consider memory and identity.
* "The Three Pigs" by David Wiesner, because you should be aware of your perspective.
* "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss, to respect the environment.

* "Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson, because you should be aware and speak up.
* "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison, to experience beautiful, layered prose that challenges you.
* "Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong" by James W. Loewen, to think critically about what you think you know.
* "The Golden Compass" by Philip Pullman, to provoke thinking about your beliefs.
* "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi, to broaden your knowledge of the world.
* "The Elements of Style" by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White and Roger Angell, to learn how to write more efficiently.

Summer 2005