Recommended Reads for High School Freshmen

A Complete 9th Grade Reading List

Charles Dickens - Great Expectations
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These are a sampling of the titles that often appear on high-school reading lists for 9th grade, as they encourage independent reading and are written at a level appropriate for a high school freshman. Literature programs vary by high school, but the books on this list are important introductions to literature. Perhaps most important, these works can help students develop stronger reading and analysis skills that they'll be required to call on throughout their secondary education, as well as in college courses.

Recommended Works for a 9th Grade Reading List

'All Quiet on the Western Front'

This 1928 novel by Erich Maria Remarque is set in World War I. Through narrator Paul, the novel offers a close-up image of war and explores combat's effect on soldiers as well as nationalism.

'Animal Farm'

Written by George Orwell, this 1946 classic is an allegory for the Russian Revolution and Soviet push toward communism.

'Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee'

"Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" was published in 1970. In it, author Dee Brown critically describes the effects of expansion and Native American displacement in early America.

'The Good Earth'

This 1931 parabolic novel was written by Pearl S. Buck. It uses Chinese culture to explore the destructive relationship between wealth and traditional values.

'Great Expectations'

One of literature's famous classics, Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" uses a coming-of-age narrative to simultaneously discuss the desire for social, economic, educational, and moral self-improvement.

'Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe'

Consider this collection a "greatest hits" of Edgar Allan Poe. It includes 11 stories and seven poems including "The Tell-tale Heart,' "The Fall of the House of Usher," and "The Raven."

'Hound of the Baskervilles'

"Hound of the Baskervilles" is one of Authur Conan Doyle's most popular "Sherlock Holmes" stories and a great example of a mystery novel.

'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings'

This iconic autobiographical novel was written by Maya Angelou and published in 1969. In "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" Angelou tells her story of growing up and confronting racism, segregation, and displacement.

'The Iliad'

The classics are important, and "The Iliad" is about as classic as they come. This Ancient Greek epic poem by Homer tells the story of Achilles in the Trojan War.

'Jane Eyre'

A quintessential female coming-of-age story, Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre" combines multiple genres and explores love, gender relations, and social class.

'The Little Prince'

"The Little Prince" was written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and published in 1943. Though disguised as a children's book, the novella discusses mature themes of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss.

'Lord of the Flies'

This 1954 dystopian novel was written by Nobel Prize-winner William Golding. It uses the story of a group of boys landing on a deserted island as an allegory for the challenges of building civilization.

'The Odyssey'

Another Homer epic poem, "The Odyssey" depicts the heroic quest of a fighter returning home from battling in the Trojan War. It takes place after "The Iliad."

'Of Mice and Men'

Through the 1930s tale of mentally disabled Lennie and his caretaker, George, this John Steinbeck novella suggests the impossibility of the American Dream.

'The Old Man and the Sea'

Published in 1952, Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" uses the story of a determined fisherman to explore both pride the honor of struggle.


This 1969 novel by Kur Vonnegut features the story of World War II soldier, Billy Pilgrim. It centers on themes of fate and free will, warfare, and freedom.

'To Kill a Mockingbird'

In Harper Lee's 1960 novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird," we see children maturing away from their inherent innocence after being confronted with hatred, prejudice, and ignorance for the first time.

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Lombardi, Esther. "Recommended Reads for High School Freshmen." ThoughtCo, Sep. 7, 2021, Lombardi, Esther. (2021, September 7). Recommended Reads for High School Freshmen. Retrieved from Lombardi, Esther. "Recommended Reads for High School Freshmen." ThoughtCo. (accessed April 2, 2023).