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Course Readings

Listed below are the major texts assigned and films shown in English classes at Los Altos High School.  You will probably recognize some of the titles from your own reading and viewing while others may be new to you.

The literary works we have selected deal with a range of human experience, insight and values. In making literary selections, we consider the difficulty of a text or film in terms of its vocabulary, sentence/cinematic structure and style, its thematic connection to the lives of students at Los Altos, and its place in literary and cinematic history.  We ask ourselves: Will this book or film challenge the strongest readers/viewers yet be accessible to the weaker readers/viewers?  Does this book or film model the kind of writing we would like students to emulate? Are there experiences and themes in this book or film which students can see in their own lives or in the world around them? Will this work broaden the students' cultural, intellectual and psychological horizons?

Considerable educational research has shown that extensive reading is the single most important factor in determining a student's long-term educational success. A direct correlation exists for almost every student: Extensive reading leads to educational success, while limited reading leads to educational difficulty.  In addition, good readers write better, have better vocabularies and are typically more knowledgeable in subjects beyond English.

You and your student should know that English teachers will expect 80-100 pages of reading each week, typically 20 pages each school night. Honors and A.P. classes typically require 120-200 pages of reading each week.

We encourage you to read the texts and view the films listed.  Doing so sends an important message to our students about the importance of reading and the class work we do. We hope that you will enjoy revisiting works that you read as a high school student and that you will find some unfamiliar gems in the newer fiction.

Contact your student's English teacher to confirm which of these texts he or she will be assigning and which films will be shown over the course of this year.

If you feel that a text or film is inappropriate for your son or daughter you may request an alternate assignment. As noted, some films may have an "R" rating. Contact your son’s or daughter’s English teacher, in writing or via email, if you would like an alternative assignment for a specific text or for any or all “R” rated films.
Ninth Grade

Ninth Grade

Survey of Composition and Literature: The House on Mango Street, To Kill a Mockingbird, Romeo and Juliet, Martian Chronicles, short stories, non-fiction articles, poetry, videos, speeches, and student-selected texts.
Tenth Grade

Tenth Grade

World Literature:  The Kite Runner, Persepolis: A Story of a Childhood, Things Fall Apart, Translations, Purple Hibiscus, and other fiction, poetry, non-fiction and film as assigned.

World Literature Honors:  Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Like Water for Chocolate, Cry, the Beloved Country, Master Harold and the Boys, The Kite Runner, Poetry, Philosophical/Political Texts, nonfiction texts, videos, magazine and newspaper articles, and independent research.

English 10: Ender’s Game, Just Mercy, The Diary of Anne Frank (the play), various short stories, non-fiction articles, poetry, videos, speeches, and student-selected texts.
Eleventh grade

Eleventh grade

American Literature: The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, The Crucible, various essays from The 50 Essays Reader, as well as poetry, non-fiction selections, and various other short works as assigned.

AP Language and Composition: The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, The Crucible, The Scarlet Letter, various essays from The 50 Essays Reader and short stories, speeches and poetry as assigned.

Society and Politics:  contemporary nonfiction essays and articles, contemporary short fiction, A Raisin in the Sun, Fences, Into the Wild, Drown, and student selected literature
Twelfth Grade

Twelfth Grade

English Literature: Siddhartha, Invisible Man, The Namesake  and other poetry, dramatic monologues, short stories, non-fiction and film as assigned. In addition, substantive independent reading is required for the Senior Project.

AP Literature and Composition:  Pride and Prejudice, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Beloved, a non-fiction book as well as substantial independent reading related to the senior project, Invisible Man, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Hamlet, poetry, short stories, non-fiction articles, and essays as assigned.

Film Analysis: The Art of Watching Films by Bogs and Petrie as well as many other articles from contemporary journals. Films (whole films and excerpts) such as Gold Rush, Moonrise Kingdom, The Artist, Casablanca, On the Waterfront, The Graduate, The Deer Hunter, Ordinary People, Raging Bull, Do the Right Thing, American Beauty, Fight Club, The Hours, Memento, Interstellar, Children of Men, The Matrix, Howl’s Moving Castle, Life of Pi, Amelie, The Color of Paradise, Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter Spring and Summer, Amores Perros, City of God, and selected short films.

Global Connections: Extensive Non-Fiction Supplemental Reading, Documentary/Film, The Holocaust and Human Behavior, Independent Reading Selections throughout year, Chapter Excerpts from The Warmth of Other Suns.

Expository Reading and Writing Curriculum: ERWC approved articles, Into the Wild, additional nonfiction articles, inspirational films and student selected literature.

New Media Literacy: Media Literacy is Elementary by Jeff Share; films and articles by Douglas Rushkoff (Generation Like, digital nation); video and audio clips from The Moth, This American Life, RadioLab, PBS, cable television networks, VICE, various social media as assigned.