AP Literature & Composition Summer Reading

Students taking AP Literature and Composition are required to read two books, one assigned and one independently-chosen. 

For students attending High School North, the assigned title is An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic

by Daniel Mendelsohn.


For students attending High School South, the assigned title is Beloved by Toni Morrison.

The second title is free choice, and should be chosen for its connection to the assigned text. Some possible points of connection include: a common theme or literary style, a similar character, another writer of similar background, a different but complementary genre, etc. The following are some suggested titles for students’ second, choice book: 

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

The Piano Lesson by August Wilson

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward***

The Street by Ann Petry

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

***High School North students should not read Sing, Unburied, Sing for their summer reading as it will be taught as part of the course later in the school year. 

Students should keep notes, in the form best suited to them, on items of interest in each book, as well as on the development of the significant connection(s) between the books. Students will not be graded on their notes, but may use them for class discussion preceding an in‐class essay to be administered during the first two weeks of school. Prior to this writing, students will have the opportunity to practice how to develop a close reading analysis.

The following are some tips for how students could interact, write/about/take notes on the books they are reading over the summer: 

Active Reading Strategies adapted from: http://www.princeton.edu/mcgraw/library/for‐students/remember‐reading/

Ask yourself pre-reading questions. What is the topic, and what do you already know about it? Why do you think the teachers chose this book for students, for your grade level?

Identify and define any unfamiliar terms.
Bracket the main ideas of the reading, and put an asterisk next to them. Pay particular attention to the introduction or opening paragraphs to locate this information. This works particularly well with non-fiction texts.
Make “marginal” notes or comments: summarize text, ask (and perhaps investigate the answers to) questions, record or highlight key words, etc.
Create a vehicle– character maps, outlines, diagrams, etc. - to help understand and remember key ideas visually. 
Teach/talk to someone about what you are reading! Research clearly shows that teaching is one of the most effective ways to learn. If you try to explain aloud what you have been reading (1) you’ll transfer the information from short-term to long-term memory, and (2) you’ll quickly discover what you understand — and what you don’t.

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