A Few Thoughts
As in AP English Language and Composition, we will endeavor to reach and master the AP College Board standards. Those of you who've been in the program your first two years at FHS should be well on your way to doing so already. The summer assignment is simply a means to shake off the summer doldrums and re-sharpen our academic prowess. It's not a test. Don't obsess. Be thoughtful, but don't obsess.
Step one: read good books*
Aside: I'm reading A Handmaid's Tale again right now -- it's been years -- and it's really interesting/disturbing. There's a series on Hulu, but I'm waiting to finish the book before I start it. It's only shown up on the exam twice, but it might be an interesting read if you like dystopias. It also fits in well with the issues surrounding women in the health care debate if you follow politics.
Further details on step two: annotate in the margins, open yourself to the ideas of the book and elaborate on them in your own reading journals. If you would like more formal writing practice, try to break down a few of the key devices the author uses (symbolism, imagery, dialog, foreshadowing, narrative structure, etc) to convey certain themes (unrequited love, the inexorable passage of time, the simultaneous beauty and ugliness of human existence, etc).
Don't stress about the details of "What does he want? Oh my gosh, what am I supposed to write? What does he mean when he says to write about the books?!" Just start a conversation with the book. Pretend the book is your buddy and you have some questions to ask it and comments to make to it. Nothing formal is required, but try not to be boring and waste everyone's time by making this writing portion busywork. Be evocative. If you'd like, you can be creative. You can "interview" one of the characters and make up the responses yourself. Write a poem inspired by the book and write about the connections you made. Ask yourself through writing why you chose this book and what you think of it as a piece of literature. How did the book impact you? What questions do the characters, situations, and themes raise in your mind? Did you like it? If you do not have anything to say in response to these or any other questions, you did not actually read the book. You may have run your eyes over the pages, and even experienced a bit of story, but you didn't read it.**
Further, further details about step two: For the re-read (Gatsby, Huck Finn, Mockingbird, Great Expectations, Macbeth, Old Man and the Sea, Kite Runner/Power of One, or Lord of the Flies), focus your journaling on your new understandings, noticings, and insights into the novel. Literature is greater than just a novel largely because they yield up additional rewards upon repeated reading. This is your opportunity to begin to experience that. This link may also help in reading literature well.
Deadline: Wednesday, 6 September 2017 bring your journals and your essays on the books to class. On the 2nd or 3rd day of class, you will be asked to share some of the insights you made in re-reading a novel you'd studied in a previous class. You may want a hard copy of your book for this.
Buying Books: Many of you will want to buy your own novels. The first book you should buy is The Compact Bedford Introduction to Literature 8th Edition (ISBN # 978-0-312-47411-9). It's available through Amazon at the link above for very cheap (Starting at $0.49 plus $3.99 shipping!). Also, pick up a copy of The Scarlet Letter. We will begin with that and the school copies are literally falling apart.
We will use this beginning the first week of school, the second at the latest depending on what the first day is like this year (you ASB people probably know already--if it's like last year, maybe Monday of the the second week). This will be where most of our short stories and poetry come from, and maybe one of our plays time permitting. It also has a figurative ton of extra helps and explanations in it that many of you will find very useful. Any questions? Just want to chat about books? About the class? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
No really, you can email me about (almost) anything you'd like. Fear not young padawan. ;)
See you in September!
As Fitzgerald once wrote,
“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
** Remember not to obsess. I know some of you just thought to yourselves, "Hmmm, I wonder if I should just do all of the suggestions just to be on the safe side." Stop it. Focus, but be thoughtful and just engage with the books.