2021’s Declassified Book Survival Guide: Required School Reading

2021’s Declassified Book Survival Guide: Required School Reading

Delia Duggan and Ella Rosovsky

Here is our very unofficial ranking of the books that we have both had to read in school from 7th-11th grade.

    1. The Crucible. Who doesn’t love a true crime tale riddled with deceit, lust, and mystery? This book steals the number one spot for so many reasons. Winona Ryder did a wonderful job playing Abigail, both the protagonist and the villain. Plus, the Salem field trip following this read puts it ahead of the rest.


  • Henry IV – By far the best Shakespeare book required at NCDS. The riveting plot combined with Falstaff’s comedic relief makes this a read you’ll actually enjoy. The story of a boy coming back and earning the love of his father is a tale we can all relate to. Tom Hiddleston absolutely KILLED the role of Hal, I mean, after all, who doesn’t love a man in red leather?
  • Great Gatsby – This tale of extravagant wealth in the 1920s is a classic for a reason. We will admit, both of us did not have high hopes for the book, as we weren’t sure it could live up to the Leonardo DiCaprio masterpiece of a movie featuring an original song by Lana Del Rey, but boy were we wrong. This book hooked me from page one. We still are dying to learn more about the secrets held by the residents of East and West Egg.
  • Animal Farm – This classic tale of communism was quite a hard pill for 7th grade us to swallow. After all, communism should work, right? Well, Snowball and Napoleon proved me wrong. The satirical style of the piece made it easy to understand, while still being enjoyable and plot-driven.
  • Macbeth – Stealing second place among Shakespeare, Macbeth follows the main characters as they lose their minds, guilty of murder. For anyone who’s a fan of the TV show Jessie, you may recall when critically acclaimed actress Debby Ryan plays a witch in a play in Central Park. That play was Macbeth. Plus, the cinematic masterpiece of the 2010 adaptation moves Macbeth up the list.
  • Romeo and Juliet – Young Leonardo DiCaprio. Enough said. Plus, everyone knows the tale of star-crossed lovers from feuding families.
  • Frankenstein – Don’t be deceived, this is not what we expected. Frankenstein is not even the name of the monster! Nonetheless, this tale had us hooked from the beginning. A mix of science fiction and Romanticism, Frankenstein is a good read for anyone.
  • Huck Finn or Their Eyes Were Watching God – Depending on what teacher you have for junior-year english, you will read at least one of these books. Huck Finn follows protagonist Huckleberry Finn as he overcomes his Southern prejudices to help a slave escape bondage. Their Eyes were Watching God follows protagonist Janie as she goes through life and relationships in the early 1900’s. Both books are enjoyable reads.
  • Friedrich – No, this is not the name of Jo’s love interest in the 2019 blockbuster movie Little Women. Instead, it is a very short book following two families during Hitler’s rise to power in Germany. Filled with action and heartbreak, this book gives anyone preparing for the 8th grade trip to DC (specifically the Holocaust museum) insight into Germany in the 1920s.
  • Antigone – Neither of us remember a lot about this book, but we do remember not really resonating with any of the characters.
  • Midsummer Night’s Dream – Stealing last place among Shakespeare novels read at NCDS, this comedy is not very memorable. The four different yet connected plots made it difficult for our 7th grade minds to follow and enjoy. Plus, it was competing with the Crucible and Animal Farm that year.
  • The Odyssey – By far, the longest book either of us have ever read, even though we only read parts of it. The plot was very confusing, and we did not watch a movie in order to help us understand. Similar to Henry IV, it is a tale of a son and a father, but it is just far more complicated than Shakespeare’s play.
  • Salvage the Bones -Following the tale of a family preparing for Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi, two unexpected pregnancies throw them into a whirlwind tale that didn’t quite resonate with us the way we think it was intended to.


  1. The Canterbury Tales – At the end of 10th grade, our English class simply ran out of time, so we only really made it through about 20 pages of the book. If anyone has any thoughts on where this book truly belongs on the list, feel free to reach out to us at: [email protected] and [email protected]

Happy reading!