Below you will find lists of suggested titles for each grade level. You are not limited to the books on these lists. To get started, identify your grade level and theme. Browse the list of suggestions for ideas and inspiration. Visit your local library to borrow a book for your summer reading project. Review your assignment before you begin reading. Enjoy your book!



The Road to Success

Everyone has a different definition of success. However, it is commonly see as someone having overcome their individual obstacles.

Pausch, Randy. The last lecture. 1st ed. New York : Hyperion, c2008.

Computer science professor Randy Pausch, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, discusses how to overcome obstacles in one's life and achieve one's dreams.

Brees, Drew, 1979-. Coming back stronger : unleashing the hidden power of adversity. Carol Stream, Ill. : Tyndale House Publishers, c2010.

Drew Brees, a starting quarterback for the New Orleans Saints, discusses the shoulder injury that almost destroyed his career, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the comeback made by himself, the city, and his team during the 2009 season.

The struggle to be strong : true stories by teens about overcoming tough times. Minneapolis, MN : Free Spirit, c2000.

First-person accounts of teenagers who overcame major life obstacles with insight, independence, relationships, initiative, creativity, humor, and morality.

Regine, Birute. Iron butterflies : women transforming themselves and the world. Amherst, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 2010.

Contains profiles of over fifty successful women around the world, looking at how a combination of masculine and feminine skills helped them become leaders, and showing how traditionally feminine skills and values can be used to empower others.

Rodriguez, Deborah. Kabul Beauty School : an American woman goes behind the veil. New York : Random House, c2007.

Hairdresser Deborah Rodriguez details her experiences in post-Taliban Afghanistan, discussing the opening of her beauty school and recalls the personal stories of various women who overcame obstacles to obtain an education in cosmetology.

Growing up in slavery : stories of young slaves as told by themselves. 1st ed. Chicago : Lawrence Hill Books, c2005.

Presents ten personal stories of slaves as they describe the hardships, beatings, and tortures of slavery, how some overcame those obstacles to learn to read and write, how they challenged authority, and escaped to freedom.

Muhsen, Zana, 1964-. A promise to Nadia : a true story of a British slave in the Yemen. Pbk. ed. London : Sphere, 2010, c2000.

Zana Muhsen, a child bride who escaped her husband and Yemen in 1988 and fled to England, provides an account of her continuing efforts to win the freedom of the child she was forced to leave behind, as well as that of her sister Nadia, also sold by her father into marriage, and Nadia's children, detailing her struggles with the Yemini and British governments, and with people who took advantage of her with false promises of help.

Chavez, Cesar, 1927-1993. An organizer's tale : speeches. New York : Penguin Books, 2008.

Collects more than forty-five speeches given by labor leader Cesar Chavez.

Mooney, Jonathan. The short bus : a journey beyond normal. 1st ed. New York : H. Holt, 2007.

The author recounts a four-month cross-country trip to meet children and adults who have triumphed over learning disabilities and have gone on to lead successful lives.

Goodall, Jane, 1934-. Hope for animals and their world : how endangered species are being rescued from the brink. 1st ed. New York : Grand Central Pub., 2009.

Presents success stories of endangered species that have, against difficult odds, managed to make a comeback, with tales of population recovery among species such as the red wolf, the crested ibis, and the pygmy hog.

Mitchell, Edgar D. Earthrise : my adventures as an Apollo 14 astronaut. Chicago, Ill. : Chicago Review Press, [2014].

From big skies to Buck Rogers -- Barnstormers, flying machines, and UFOs -- Spreading my wings -- NASA here we come -- Getting there -- A super long shot -- The rocky road down -- A marvelous day for a moonwalk -- Trek to cone crater -- The extraordinary ride home -- Expanding horizons -- Exploring new worlds. Describes the successful Apollo 14 journey to the Moon, the life experiences of Edgar D. Mitchell that led to him becoming an astronaut, and more.

Rimm, Sylvia B., 1935-. How Jane won : 55 successful women share how they grew from ordinary girls to extraordinary women. 1st ed. New York : Crown Business, c2001.

Fifty-five women share their secrets for success and discuss how different people define success.

Sheinin, David. RG3 : the promise. New York, N.Y. : A Plume Book, [2014].

Examines the life of Robert Griffin III, or RG3, discussing his early talent for sports, college success, first year in the NFL, and more.

Carlin, John, 1956-. Playing the enemy : Nelson Mandela and the game that made a nation. New York : Penguin Press, 2008.

Describes how the 1995 rugby World Cup helped Nelson Mandela unite the country of South Africa and bring about the end to the country's apartheid and bitter racial tensions.

Mandela, Nelson, 1918-. In his own words. 1st U.S. ed. New York : Little, Brown, c2003.

Presents a collection of South African human rights activist Nelson Mandela's most important speeches, arranged thematically, with introductory comments from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Fisher, Antwone Quenton. Finding Fish. New York : HarperTorch, [2002], c2001.

Antwone Fisher tells the story of his life, from his birth to a prison inmate to his success as a screenwriter in Hollywood, discussing his childhood and teen years in foster homes, his stint in the Navy, his attempts to find his mother and father, and the determination that led him to create the life of his dreams.

Jal, Emmanuel. War child : a child soldier's story. 1st St. Martin's Griffin ed. New York : St. Martin's Griffin, 2010, c2009.

A memoir of Emmanuel Jal's upbringing during the civil war in Sudan in the 1980s and conscription into the Christian Sudanese Liberation army as a child soldier, and covers his rescue and adoption by a British aid worker and success as a hip-hop recording artist and documentary film subject.

Jemison, Mae, 1956-. Find where the wind goes : moments from my life. 1st ed. New York : Scholastic Press, 2001.

Mae Jemison recounts her life story, describing her struggle to overcome the doubts of those around her and become an astronaut--the first woman of color in space.

Mah, Adeline Yen, 1937-. Falling leaves : the true story of an unwanted Chinese daughter. 1st Broadway Books trade pbk. ed. New York : Broadway Books, 1999.

Autobiography of physician and writer Adeline Yen Mah, discussing her emotionally abusive childhood, experiences of isolation and loneliness, success as a student, and triumphant struggle to achieve freedom and a new life.

Murray, Liz, 1980-. Breaking night : a memoir of forgiveness, survival, and my journey from homeless to Harvard. 1st ed. New York : Hyperion, c2010.

Liz Murray, who was homeless at the age of fifteen and had drug-addicted parents, reflects on how she overcame obstacles and eventually attended Harvard University.

Baker, William J. (William Joseph), 1938-. Jesse Owens : an American life. 1st Illinois pbk. [ed.]. Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 2006.

Presents a comprehensive biography African-American athlete Jesse Owens, who won four Olympic gold medals for track and field in the 1936 Berlin games; and chronicles his impoverished childhood and triumph over adversity to become an American icon.

Shen, Aisling Juanjuan, 1974-. A tiger's heart : the story of a modern Chinese woman. New York : Soho, c2009.

Aisling Juanjuan Shen, the daughter of illiterate peasant parents in a poor rice-farming hamlet in China, recounts how she overcame her poverty stricken beginnings and the gender biases of the Chinese government and business world to find success and happiness in modern China.

Badoe, Adwoa. Between sisters. Toronto ; : Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press, 2010.

Sixteen-year-old Gloria, who lives in poverty in Accra, dreams of becoming a dressmaker but has difficulty with school, and when a distant relative offers to pay for dressmaking school in exchange for Gloria looking after her son in Kumasi, Gloria accepts the offer and finds that life in Kumasi is full of temptations and distractions which she must struggle to overcome.

Quintero, Isabel. Gabi, a girl in pieces. 1st ed. El Paso, Tex. : Cinco Puntos Press, [2014].

Sixteen-year-old Gabi Hernandez chronicles her senior year in high school as she copes with her friend Cindy's pregnancy, her friend Sebastian's coming out, her father's meth habit, her own cravings for food and cute boys, and especially, the poetry that helps forge her identity.

Weyer, Hannah. On the come up : a novel, based on a true story. 1st ed. New York : Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, [2013].

"Willful, outspoken, and precariously naive, thirteen-year-old AnnMarie Walker dreams of a world beyond Far Rockaway, where the sway of the neighborhood keeps her tied to old ideas about success. Then one day, while attending a high school for pregnant girls, she comes across a flyer advertising movie auditions in Manhattan for an independent film."--Provided by publisher.

Woodson, Jacqueline. Beneath a meth moon : an elegy. New York : Nancy Paulsen Books, c2012.

Laurel Daneau, having lost her mother, grandmother, and home in Hurricane Katrina, thinks things are going well with her new life as a cheerleader and the girlfriend of basketball start T-Boom, but after T-Boom introduces her to meth and she finds the drug helps her deal with her past, she must rely on the help of an artist named Moses and her friend Kaylee to overcome the addiction.