Ease the transition from middle school to high school by preparing academically. This reading list will prepare students not only for the critical thinking skills they'll need to use in high school, but for higher academic prowess in college and their career.
Most of the following items are high school required reading, but may not receive the required emphasis to prepare future adults to make sensible decisions (a polite way of saying not all schools do an adequate job of teaching them).
The Declaration of Independence - Understanding the founding father's emphasis on personal liberty and self reliance leads to success and independence. Not understanding the founding father's emphasis on personal liberty and self reliance leads to mediocrity and dependence. Brush up on America's founding document with a quick summary (there's a link here to the original).
The United States Constitution - Every federal official including the president of the United States swears an oath to protect and defend the United States Constitution. Shouldn't the governed be familiar with it? Brush up on the law of the land with a quick summary (with links to the original document).
The Bill of Rights - The first ten amendments to the Constitution enumerates specific rights.
Other important documents include Thomas Paine's Common Sense, John Locke's Second Treatise on Government, and The Federalist Papers.
Ten Famous Short Stories
High school required reading includes numerous short stories. These are the ten I find most significant.
"The Most Dangerous Game" by Richard Connell - Zaroff hunts humans. Rainsford falls off a ship and swims to Zaroff's island. You figure out the rest.
"The Monkey's Paw" - Sgt. Major Morris brings back an enchanted monkey's paw. Herbert White makes fun of him. Herbert White dies (twice).
"The Scarlet Ibis" by James Hurst - Prepare to cry.
"The Necklace" by Guy de Maupassant - Learn the importance of thrift and the dangers of debt the easy way (as opposed to the hard way, which includes running up credit card bills and getting your house foreclosed).
"To Build a Fire" by Jack London - It's cold. He's wet. He must build a fire or die.
"The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin - This short introduction to irony takes minutes to read.