Independent Reading Program: Connections to American History

Independent Reading: Juniors

Connecting to American History.


This semester Juniors will  read non-fiction on American History topics in support of their American History class and Junior Research Project. You may read any format of non-fiction including (but not limited to) histories, journals, biographies, autobiographies, memoirs or any other non-fiction  that all have something in common. You may read about a person or group or event or period or idea. Recently, for example, one student read four biographies of influential leaders (Washington, Roosevelt, Lincoln and Martin Luther King). Another student, who loves animals and nature, read biographies or autobiographies by or about American naturalists: John Muir, Henry David Thoreau, Carl Sagan and Rachel Carson.

My hope is that you will accept this invitation to explore a topic or topics in American History in depth.


Choose your first book by September 6th.

  1. Choose your books and get them approved by me before beginning them. You may buy, borrow or rent books. No ebooks or digital formats (Kindle, eg.). All books must be physical objects with paper pages. Choose books appropriate to your age and reading level.
  2. Bring your book everyday. Most days we will begin with a 10 minute silent reading period. You are expected to read for 20 minutes each day at home. If you read 10 pages per day 5 days per week you will easily complete the 1000 (500 pages per grading period) pages and receive an A on this assignment. If you do not like your book for any reason you must exchange it immediately for another book. You are not allowed to suffer books that you do not enjoy.
  3. Schedule and complete a 2-minute book talk with me. The purpose of the book talk is for me to determine if you read and understood the book. If you cannot recall significant details from the book, please take notes or reread the material. You may use notes during the book talk. During the book talk, I will read a passage and ask you questions about it. The expectation is that you will remember significant details  from the book/passage and be able to talk about it   (I do not expect you to remember tiny details). If I am unsure about your reading, I will ask you to reschedule for another book talk. The burden is on you to convince me that you read and understood the book.
  4.  Receive my signature on your book log.
  5. Complete an annotated bibiliography in MLA format.
  6.  Prompts for Independent reading

1000 pages (500 per quarter) = A

899 pages= B

799 pages =  C

699 pages = D

599 pages = F

  • Incomplete comprehension may receive a fraction of pages.
  • Ambitious or difficult books may receive a bonus of pages.
  • No digital (Kindle or other formats). All books must be physical objects with paper pages. No exceptions.
  • Book talks MUST be scheduled a week in advance. I may or may not be able to accommodate last minute requests for book talks. I am available before school, lunch and after school for book talks.
Here is a list of some interesting American History topics.
  1. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  2. The Great Depression
  3. The War of 1812
  4. Peninsula Campaign
  5. Fort Sumter
  6. The Chicago Race Riot of 1919
  7. The Gettysburg Address
  8. Boston Tea Party
  9. Transcontinental Railroad
  10. The Cotton Gin
  11. Samuel Adams
  12. Any of the 50 states
  13. History of Thanksgiving
  14. The Mayflower
  15. Marilyn Monroe
  16. September 11th
  17. War on drugs
  18. Black Panthers
  19. Ku Klux Klan
  20. The Wright Brothers
  21. The Beat Generation
  22. Andy Warhol
  23. Rosa Parks
  24. Underground Railroad
  25. Hurricane Katrina
  26. Salem Witch Trials
  27. California Gold Rush
  28. Feminism
  29. Seneca Falls Convention
  30. Helen Keller
  31. Watergate
  32. Conspiracy theories
  33. The Trail of Tears
  34. Industrial Revolution
  35. The Civil War
  36. Elian Gonzalez
  37. Cuban relations
  38. America’s role in WWI & WWII
  39. Abraham Lincoln
  40. Slavery in America
  41. Equal Rights Movement
  42. Ferguson
  43. Police brutality in America
  44. The Stamp Act
  45. The Indian Removal Act
  46. Women’s Suffrage
  47. The Berlin Wall
  48. Communism in America
  49. The Challenger explosion
  50. Virginia Tech massacre
  51. Columbine
  52. The assassination of JFK
  53. The Panama Canal
  54. Kent State Shootings
  55. The space race and moon landing
  56. O.J. Simpson
  57. Vietnam War
  58. What role did women play in the military?
  59. The Revolution
  60. George Washington
  61. French-Indian War
  62. Alexander Graham Bell
  63. Declaration of Independence
  64. War on Middle East
  65. George W. Bush
  66. Battle of Wounded Knee
  67. Practice of Voodooism
  68. The Louisiana Purchase
  69. American Expansion
  70. Native American religion
  71. The Whiskey Rebellion of 1794
  72. Gold Rush
  73. Immigration
  74. Atomic Bomb
  75. Korean War
  76. Oklahoma City Bombing
  77. Bay of Pigs
  78. Stock Market Crash of 1929
  79. Child labor
  80. Dred Scott case
  81. Manifest Destiny
  82. Oregon Trail
  83. The US Constitution
  84. Lincoln-Douglas Debates
  85. Thomas Nast’s political cartoons
  86. Mississippi River Flood of 1927
  87. Pearl Harbor
  88. Amelia Earhart
  89. Cold War
  90. American Indian Movement
  91. Iran Hostage Situation
  92. Manhattan Project
  93. Major inventions of the 1800s
  94. Labor Unions
  95. The Gilded Age
  96. Marbury vs. Madison
  97. Federalism
  98. Muckrackers
  99. American advertising
  100. Propaganda

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