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CHS Freshman Reading Lists 2020

Updated: Apr 11, 2022

Below are several of the reading lists for the freshman class at Canyon High School in Canyon, TX, a part of CISD (Canyon Independent School District).

Mrs. Sparks Chapman's Class

1st 6 weeks (original):

  • The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

  • Monument 14 by Emmy LayBorurne

  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

  • The Living by Matt de la Pena

  • Frayed by Kara Terzis

  • Looking for Alaska by John Green

1st 6 weeks (updated):

Mrs. Bennett's Class

1st 6 weeks:

  • Six of Crows, Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (series)

  • Frayed by Kara Terzis

  • Scythe, Thunderhead, The Toll by Neil Shusterman (series)

  • Monument 14, Savage Drift, Sky on Fire by ? (series)

  • Looking for Alaska by John Green

  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

2nd 6 weeks:

Mrs. Moore's Class

  • Unknown at this time

Below we will briefly summarize the content within each title and include links to title reviews* where possible. * Most review from Common Sense Media. Most lexicon levels acquired from

Monument 14 by Emmy LayBorurne

- Violence, Sex, Language, Drinking/Drugs, Sexual Assault

- Lexile: HL590L (text complexity range for 3rd grade)

Even in their dire situation, sex is on the minds of Dean and the other older characters in Monument 14. Dean has a crush on blond cheerleader, Astrid and spies on her as she allows a high school boy to fondle her bare breasts. Fourteen-year-old Sahalia dress and acts provocatively around the older boys. Another character is revealed to be pregnant. Violence Vividly depicted scenes of violence include a bloody fistfight among the older boys, an episode of uncontrolled rage caused by weapons-grade chemicals, and a shooting that leaves one character dead and another grievously wounded. Some characters recount an interrupted sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

- Sex, Violence, Excessive Language, Drinking/Drugs/Smoking

- Lexile: 820L (text complexity range for 4th grade)

Parents need to know that readers are aware from the title that a teen girl is dying in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Readers and their parents may also be put off by narrator Greg's teen self-centeredness and admitted lack of empathy with his friend Rachel -- or by the characters' liberal use of crude and profane language. But this novel is extremely clever and funny, and though Greg's excessive self-loathing can seem over-the-top, there's something very true in this portrayal of high school chaos and friendship. There is a reference to Greg's brothers' marijuana use, and Greg and Earl accidentally injest some.

The Living by Matt de la Pena

- Excessive Violence, Excessive Language, Sex, Drinking/Drugs/Smoking, Racism

- Lexile: HL700L (text complexity range for 4th grade)

Parents need to know that The Living, by Matt de la Pena (Mexican Whiteboy), is the first installment of a violent, thrilling disaster tale. There's plenty of gruesome violence, a very high body count, and teen characters swear casually and constantly (including "s--t," "a--hole," "bitch," "f--k" ). The story emphasizes themes of racism and class conflict, and the wealthy characters generally behave with selfish entitlement.

Frayed by Kara Terzis

- Violence, Sex, Language, Drinking/Drugs, Masturbation

- Lexile: HL670L (text complexity range for 3rd grade)

Parents need to know that Frayed is a dark Australian comedy set in 1989 about Sammy Cooper, a rich housewife from London who returns with her teenagers to Australia after her husband's embarrassing death reveals that the family is broke. Sammy and her brother, Jim, fight incessantly, as do Sammy's kids, Lenny and Tess. None of the characters are very nice to each other, but they do love each other. Characters experience verbal and physical bullying and abuse. A minor character dies by gunshot, but the scene shows only brief glimpses of a lifeless, bloody body. There is sex between adult characters and masturbation, and lots of crude sexual talk. Profanity includes frequent uses of "s--t," f--k," "bitch," "wanker" and "piss off." Racist comments toward the sole Chinese character and derogatory remarks about women are also a concern. Several times, adults drink to excess and have hangovers. Adults and teens smoke cigarettes and pot. Whether teens watch alone or with adults, there are opportunities to talk about the bullying/abuse, racism, and sexism in the show.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

- Violence, Sex, Language, Drinking/Drugs, Molestation, Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault of a Minor, Harsh Condemnation of Christianity

- Lexile: 1010L (text complexity range for 8th grade)


The Cellar by Natasha Preston

- Rape, Excessive Profanity, Underage sex, Consenting to Sex, Soliciting a Prostitute, Cleansing of a Perceived Undesirable Group / Genocide, Adultery

- Lexile: HL570L (text complexity range for 2nd grade)

A 16 year old girl (Summer) is kidnapped by a demented guy (Clever) who throws her in the basement where he has three other girls held captive as his slaves. They must be completely submissive and cook for him, wear their clothing and makeup how he likes it, take on his newly assigned name (Lily, Rose, Poppy, etc.) and they play family until he falls in love with them and rapes them. Each of the four girls are clearly traumatized by their kidnapping and being raped numerous times and some are in denial of reality and are having mental breakdowns. You walk through the rape from both Summer/Lily's and Clever's perspective. Clever solicits prostitutes, murders them in order to purify the earth of the un-pure. His boss at work is cheating on his pregnant wife with his secretary and so our main character murders her, also. Clever flashes back to his childhood when he and his mother walk in on his father committing adultery. Summer/Lily remembers consenting to pre-marital sex and losing her virginity to her older boyfriend, Lewis. Other inappropriate sexual banter.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

See our full review HERE.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

- Violence, Sex, Language, Drinking/Drugs, Critical Race Theory/BLM Narrative

- Lexile: HL590L (text complexity range for 3rd grade)

There's talk of an affair between two adults. Teens engage in heavy petting, talk about having sex and condoms. A teen girl is described as being on birth control, and there's discussion of teen pregnancy and the assumption that a married couple is having sex when they go to their bedroom and turn the television up loud. A woman is revealed to be a prostitute. Language Conversational swearing by both adults and teens throughout the novel, including "s--t," "f--k," "ass," "bitch," "damn" (and variants), and "nigga." Drinking, Drugs & Smoking Teens drink alcohol and smoke marijuana at a party. Two adult characters are alcoholics. Adults are described as being addicted to drugs, addiction to crack cocaine is discussed, and both teens and adults are described as selling drugs. We don't actually see drugs being sold, but drug dealing is discussed throughout the novel. We see several instances of violence and hear about others. A unarmed teen boy is shot and killed; we see the blood, and we see him die. There are other reports of shootings and deaths as a result. Another boy is badly beaten. A woman is described as being beaten. An older gentleman is attacked by a group of young men; we don't see the attack but we see the injuries. Many threats are made on the lives of various people. A young girl dies in a drive-by shooting and her blood is described as mingling with the fire hydrant water. There are school fights between girls and boys. Buildings are set on fire during riots.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

- Violence, Sex, Language, Drinking/Drugs

- Lexile: HL790L (text complexity range for 4th grade)

Parents need to know that Leigh Bardugo's Six of Crows is related to her Grisha trilogy, but you can read this first book of the related series without reading the trilogy first. As in the fantasy series, the content is consistently mature and a better fit for mature readers. Characters are complex, flawed, and sometimes responsible for despicable acts, such as plucking out a man's eye in one gruesome scene. More bloodshed includes arena fighting in prison where a man is mauled to death and wolves are killed, a gang shooting where a boy is left for dead, a knife wound that nearly kills a main character, and more. Backstories of the main characters can be jarring, such as a recalled childhood scene of a character being buried in corpses on a barge, imprisonment and near-starvation, and characters being beaten and forced to work in brothels. No details are given about life in the brothels, but there's some kissing and nakedness in other scenes. Strong language is pretty infrequent, with only one use of "f--king." Themes of survival and overcoming loss. Though greed and revenge seem to motivate characters on the surface, there's also an underlying desire for connection.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

- Violence, Sex, Language, Drinking/Drugs, Homosexuality

- Lexile: 810L (text complexity range for 3rd grade)

Parents need to know that Leigh Bardugo's Crooked Kingdom, the follow-up to Six of Crows, is related to her Grisha trilogy. As with Six of Crows, the content is consistently mature and a better fit for mature readers. Characters are complex, flawed, and sometimes responsible for some of the worst violence. While there's no arena fighting in this one, there are a few jarringly gory moments, the worst being a gunshot in an eye socket: "[T]he blast didn't just take her eye but most of the top of her skull." An important character is shot and killed, a torture scene includes a mallet that almost shatters a leg, and main characters take some truly bloody beatings (killing some in the process, including a man with broken nails in his windpipe). They are also shot at repeatedly and pelted with knives and throwing stars (one time on a high wire with no net). Explosions injure people, and corpses turn zombie-like or are taken out of morgues. Other mature content includes kissing and flirting, both straight and gay, and some drinking and drug and gambling addiction among teens. Strong language is pretty infrequent, with only one use of "f--king." Characters are driven by revenge and the fight for their own survival but also by a need for connection. They work to protect each other from those preying on the powerless.

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser

- Excessive Violence, Excessive Profanity, Drugs/Drinking, Sex

- Lexile: 1240L (text complexity range for 11th & 12th grade)

Parents need to know that most kids probably won't be that interested in this exposé of the fast food industry (which is rated R, was released in 2006 and is based on Eric Schlosser's non-fiction best-seller). And just as well. It includes an extremely graphic sequence on the "killing floor" of a meat-packing plant, which shows actual footage of brutal hacking at cattle. Other violence includes the difficult border crossing endured by Mexican workers and a bloody scene of a worker's leg getting caught and cut off in a grinding machine. Some sex scenes between a manager (who trades sex for favors at work) and his female workers show naked body parts. Characters drink, smoke marijuana, and take methamphetamines. Language includes some 20 uses of "f--k" and a variety of other curses.

  • Noteworthy for Texas Panhandle residents, whose livelihoods, or a derivative of, prosper from the beef industry, to mention this title is NOT endorsed by TCFA or NCBA that we can find on their websites.

  • Another review from Michigan State University.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

- Sex, Excessive Profanity, Drinking/Drugs, Violence

- Lexile: 850L (text complexity range for 5th grade)

Parents need to know the series is rife with strong language (pretty much anything goes, from "damn" to "f--k" in every possible use) and other adult behavior that the teens have to work hard to obscure in order to avoid expulsion from their boarding school. A bedroom scene reveals a guy's naked backside as a couple makes out, several teens drink and buy alcohol with fake credentials, and smoking is fairly commonplace. There's also a subtle darkness to some of the characters and their backstories, hinting at unpleasant realities in their lives. This story touches on issues like racial and socioeconomic inequality, prejudice, and the challenging of society's norms in honest and sometimes uncomfortable ways. Most of the teen characters have lost their virginity, and there are some descriptions of heavy kissing, oral sex, groping, references to masturbation, erections, making out, watching pornography, etc. Author John Green has described the frank sex scene as "wholly unerotic," especially in contrast to the book's next more intimate (but less graphic) encounter. A fatal car wreck, a possible suicide, and a character has gruesome dreams about the wreck and its aftermath. Cruel pranks are played on Miles and the other characters as well that often result in plans for revenge. Lots of underage drinking, fake IDs, drunkenness and hangovers, drunk driving, constant smoking, references to marijuana.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

- Violence, Sex, Language, Drugs/Drinking

- Lexile: 690L (text complexity range for 3rd grade)

Parents need to know that Speak, a Showtime 2004 movie based on a novel of the same name by Laurie Halse Anderson, is an intense study of the aftermath of a sexual assault/rape by a high school boy at a party where there was underage drinking. The assault is depicted in a close-up of the anguished face of the attacked high school girl who is traumatized (and is then isolated from her peers). Wounded, silent Melinda ditches class, steals passes from teachers, and deliberately cuts herself. She recalls her rape, and is threatened by her rapist. The narrator refers to cheerleaders sleeping with football players, and to high school girls having abortions. The movie suggests that the trauma of the attack is made worse for the victim when she remains silent about what happened to her. The subjects of bullying and social isolation are also addressed. Close friends blame the victim for calling the police, which broke up the party and led to the arrest of several friends, who suffered consequences. None of the friends were aware that she called the police because of the rape. Language includes "horny, "a--hole," "bitch," and "shut up."

Scythe by Neil Shusterman (series)

contains innumerable scenes of violence, from messy suicides to mass killings with flamethrowers to intimate and sudden poisonings or stabbings. There's a literary rationale for this bloody excess, but younger readers might be upset by it.

Thunderhead by Neil Shusterman (series)

The Toll by Neil Shusterman (series)

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