Your summer SAT and ACT reading list

SAT Prep

Students with excellent reading and comprehension skills find the verbal sections of the SAT and the reading test on the ACT much easier to attack. Classic literature offers you a chance to practice reading typical SAT and ACT passages and to expand your vocabulary.

Carry a book with you at all times, reading whenever you have a few spare minutes, such as during a break at work, in the doctor’s waiting room, or at the pool. While reading, mark any unfamiliar words and define them when you return home. And you can also check our SAT Word of the Day archives for any unfamiliar word that you may need defined.

Below is list of great literary works that can help you build a powerful vocabulary and the mental acuity needed to best those ACT and SAT reading passages. It is based on the easiest and most interesting classic stories as recommended by PowerScore instructors. We’ve also included the most recent movie version for you to view after completing the novel.



The Plot in 3 Words

The movie stars:

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austin

British romantic comedy

Keira Knightley

Wuthering Heights

Emily Bronte

Passionate love story

Juliette Binoche, Ralph Fiennes

The Awakening

Kate Chopin

Wife finds freedom

No movie version available

The Red Badge of Courage

Stephen Crane

Civil War fear

Audie Murphy

Don Quixote

Miguel de Cervantes

A madman’s adventure

John Lithgow, Isabella Rossellini

The Three Muskateers

Alexandre Dumas

Historical French adventure

Charlie Sheen, Keifer Sutherland

The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Rags to riches

Robert Redford, Mia Farrow

Lord of the Flies

William Golding

Deserted island boys

Balthazar Getty

The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Punishment for adultery

Demi Moore, Gary Oldman


Joseph Heller

WWII satire

Alan Arkin

Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Year 2540 utopia

Peter Gallagher, Leonard Nimoy

The Metamorphosis

Franz Kafka

Man becomes insect

Steven Berkoff, Tim Roth

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee

Deep South prejudice

Gregory Peck

The Call of the Wild

Jack London

Yukon sled dog

Charleton Heston


Toni Morrison

Effects of slavery

Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover

Animal Farm

George Orwell

Farm animals revolt

Kelsey Grammer, Julia Louis-Dreyfus

The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath

Young woman’s depression

Julia Styles

The Catcher in the Rye

J.D. Salinger

A teenager’s alienation

No movie version available

The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck

Great Depression sharecroppers

Henry Fonda

Treasure Island

R.L. Stevenson

High seas adventure

Charleton Heston

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Cruelty of slavery

Avery Brooks, Bruce Dern

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain

A runaway’s story

Elijah Wood



French adventure satire

No movie version available


Kurt Vonnegut

WWII time travel

Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman

The Color Purple

Alice Walker

Southern women’s difficulties

Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

Price of vanity

Josh Duhamel

Native Son

Richard Wright

Depression-era racism

Victor Love, Matt Dillon

Got any other books that you think should be on this list? Leave it in the comments!