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Summer Reading Lists & Assignments
Posted On:
Thursday, May 03, 2018
Honors 10th-grade Literature
  • How to Read Literature Like A Professor for Kids by Thomas C. Foster
  • Night by Elie Wiesel

Honors American Lit will pick one from this list: (please see below for more details on the assignments)

  • Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  • The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
  • How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

AP Literature will pick one from this list:
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

 

2018 American Literature Summer Reading Task:

I Dreamed a Dream

THE AMERICAN DREAM INTRODUCTION

        The term “American Dream” was first coined in 1931 by historian James Truslow Adams in his book Epic of America. In it, Adams writes, “The American Dream is that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement…It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

        This idea of the American Dream is one that has taken on a variety of interpretations, and literature is one of the many mediums through which people attempt to define their particular vision of it. For your summer reading assignment, you will select one of the following novels to read. Each one focuses, at least in part, on the American Dream. As you read the novel, pay particular attention to how the author handles this theme.

        Afterward, write a well-developed, multi-paragraph essay in response to the essay topic provided below. This essay will be due August 13, 2018.

 

NOVEL SELECTIONS (all novel descriptions taken from Amazon.com)

        You will select one novel from the list below:

 Invisible Man  by Ralph Ellison (PLEASE DO NOT CONFUSE WITH HG WELLS’ NOVEL BY THE SAME TITLE!!):  Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.

 The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

This widely acclaimed bestseller spans two countries and two generations, following a group of Chinese women who meet to play mah jong, invest money and tell the secret stories of their lives. They call their gathering the Joy Luck Club.

 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie

 Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author's own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by Ellen Forney that reflect the character's art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

 How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez

Acclaimed writer Julia Alvarez’s brilliant and buoyant and beloved first novel gives voice to four sisters recounting their adventures growing up in two cultures. In this debut novel, the García sisters—Carla, Sandra, Yolanda, and Sofía—and their family must flee their home in the Dominican Republic after their father’s role in an attempt to overthrow a tyrannical dictator is discovered. They arrive in New York City in 1960 to a life far removed from their existence in the Caribbean. In the wild and wondrous and not always welcoming U.S.A., their parents try to hold on to their old ways, but the girls try to find new lives: by forgetting their Spanish, by straightening their hair and wearing fringed bell bottoms. For them, it is at once liberating and excruciating to be caught between the old world and the new. How the García Girls Lost Their Accents sets the sisters free to tell their most intimate stories about how they came to be at home—and not at home—in America.

 

The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies established this young writer as one the most brilliant of her generation. Her stories are one of the very few debut works -- and only a handful of collections -- to have won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Among the many other awards and honors it received were the New Yorker Debut of the Year award, the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the highest critical praise for its grace, acuity, and compassion in detailing lives transported from India to America. In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations. Here again Lahiri displays her deft touch for the perfect detail -- the fleeting moment, the turn of phrase -- that opens whole worlds of emotion.

 The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. On the heels of their arranged wedding, Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli settle together in Cambridge, Massachusetts. An engineer by training, Ashoke adapts far less warily than his wife, who resists all things American and pines for her family. When their son is born, the task of naming him betrays the vexed results of bringing old ways to the new world. Named for a Russian writer by his Indian parents in memory of a catastrophe years before, Gogol Ganguli knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd, antic name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. With penetrating insight, she reveals not only the defining power of the names and expectations bestowed upon us by our parents, but also the means by which we slowly, sometimes painfully, come to define ourselves. The New York Times has praised Lahiri as "a writer of uncommon elegance and poise." The Namesake is a fine-tuned, intimate, and deeply felt novel of identity.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Jende Jonga, a Cameroonian immigrant living in Harlem, has come to the United States to provide a better life for himself, his wife, Neni, and their six-year-old son. In the fall of 2007, Jende can hardly believe his luck when he lands a job as a chauffeur for Clark Edwards, a senior executive at Lehman Brothers. Clark demands punctuality, discretion, and loyalty—and Jende is eager to please. Clark’s wife, Cindy, even offers Neni temporary work at the Edwardses’ summer home in the Hamptons. With these opportunities, Jende and Neni can at last gain a foothold in America and imagine a brighter future.

However, the world of great power and privilege conceals troubling secrets, and soon Jende and Neni notice cracks in their employers’ façades.

When the financial world is rocked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the Jongas are desperate to keep Jende’s job—even as their marriage threatens to fall apart. As all four lives are dramatically upended, Jende and Neni are forced to make an impossible choice.

 

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston

“A deeply soulful novel that comprehends love and cruelty, and separates the big people from the small of heart, without ever losing sympathy for those unfortunates who don’t know how to live properly.” —Zadie Smith

One of the most important and enduring books of the twentieth century, Their Eyes Were Watching God brings to life a Southern love story with the wit and pathos found only in the writing of Zora Neale Hurston. Out of print for almost thirty years—due largely to initial audiences’ rejection of its strong black female protagonist—Hurston’s classic has since its 1978 reissue become perhaps the most widely read and highly acclaimed novel in the canon of African-American literature.

 POST-READING ASSIGNMENT

Each of these novels feature a character(s) that pursues some version of the American Dream. Using your selected novel, select one character who pursues the American Dream and write a six paragraph essay in which you explore this character’s pursuit of this dream. In your essay, you should answer four particular questions about the character’s pursuit, each in its own body paragraph. Each body paragraph should use at least two pieces of direct textual evidence (properly cited) to support your answer to the question. Consider the 4C writing format as a guide for citing evidence and supporting your ideas. Use the following outline to structure your essay:

 Introduction Paragraph

        • Attention-getter/Opening

        • Brief summary of novel (including title and author) and introduction to character on    which you will focus

        • Thesis Statement: Provide a clear, concise, debatable statement that shares your   interpretation of this character’s pursuit of the American Dream.

Body Paragraph #1

        • Topic Sentence that answers this question: What is this character’s vision of the   American Dream?

        • Textual Evidence & Analysis

Body Paragraph #2

        • Topic Sentence that answers this question: How does this character pursue/attempt to achieve this American Dream?

        • Textual Evidence & Analysis

Body Paragraph #3

        • Topic Sentence that answers this question: What problems or obstacles does this character face in his/her pursuit of this American Dream? Why do these obstacles exist?

        • Textual Evidence & Support

Body Paragraph #4

        • Topic Sentence that answers this question: Is this character successful in achieving       his/her American Dream? To what extent? What is the evidence of this success/lack of       success?

        • Textual Evidence & Support

Conclusion Paragraph

        • Redaddress the Thesis

        • Review of Support

        • Round-off/Closure to essay

 

ESSAYS MUST BE TYPED IN MLA FORMAT. See the Purdue OWL site for information regarding MLA expectations. I will not score essays that do not meet basic MLA formatting rules (12-point, Times New Roman font, double spaced, with MLA heading).

 DUE DATES

Please email me your novel choice by June 4, 2018. I just need the title and author you plan to read. My email is Emily.tucker@carrollcountyschools.com. You may also email me throughout the summer with questions as you have them.

I will collect your completed essays on August 13, 2018. We will also complete class activities, for a grade, on these novels when we return to school. Make sure you plan accordingly so that you will start the semester off on the right foot.

 A note on plagiarism: This is my 10th year teaching, and I have read thousands of essays in my time at VRHS. I can very easily distinguish between authentic student voice and plagiarized essays. Please allow yourself plenty of time to complete the assignment on your own so that you will not be tempted to plagiarize your work. Any essays that are partially or wholly plagiarized will receive no credit.

 

2018 AP Literature Summer Reading Task:

Big Brother is Watching You

Your summer assignment consists of two parts: an analysis of a dystopian novel and a poet study. The instructions for both are provided in this packet. Please see the last page for due date information.

 INTRODUCTION to DYSTOPIAS

        Dystopian stories have become increasingly popular over the last several years, with blockbuster movies like Hunger Games and Divergent as well as award-winning television shows like Handmaid’s Tale. Each dystopian tale showcases a world in which humanity has gotten things horribly wrong.

        You will be selecting one dystopian novel to read this summer, looking at how the author re-imagines our world. As you read, you should notice that the author is responding to very real issues in our world today; dystopian novels act as satire, highlighting problems with our society. These novels will serve as an introduction to a broader study of satire in our AP Literature course.

        Afterward, write a well-developed, multi-paragraph essay in response to the essay topic provided below. This essay will be due August 10, 2018.

 

NOVEL SELECTIONS (all novel descriptions taken from Amazon.com)

        You will select one novel from the list below:

            The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: The Handmaid's Tale is a novel of such power that the reader will be unable to forget its images and its forecast. Set in the near future, it describes life in what was once the United States and is now called the Republic of Gilead, a monotheocracy that has reacted to social unrest and a sharply declining birthrate by reverting to, and going beyond, the repressive intolerance of the original Puritans. The regime takes the Book of Genesis absolutely at its word, with bizarre consequences for the women and men in its population.

            The story is told through the eyes of Offred, one of the unfortunate Handmaids under the new social order. In condensed but eloquent prose, by turns cool-eyed, tender, despairing, passionate, and wry, she reveals to us the dark corners behind the establishment’s calm facade, as certain tendencies now in existence are carried to their logical conclusions. The Handmaid's Tale is funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing. It is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and a tour de force. It is Margaret Atwood at her best.

            1984 by George Orwell: 1984, published in 1949, is a dystopian and satirical novel. It revolves around Winston Smith, who lives in a nation called Oceania, in a province called Airstrip One, which represents present-day England. This state is controlled by the Party, headed by a mysterious leader who is addressed as Emmanuel Goldstein, also known as the Big Brother. The Party watches every single move that Smith and other citizens make.

            The nation’s language and history is forcefully changed for the benefit of the Party. A new language, Newspeak, is being compulsively implemented to ensure works that have anything to do with political rebellion are omitted. In Oceania, even rebellious thoughts are illegal and are said to be the worst of all crimes. The people are suppressed and any form of individuality is not tolerated, including love and sex.

            Smith works as a low-ranking member of the Party who alters historical records. He hates the Party and thus buys an illegal diary in which he pens down his thoughts. He meets Julia, a coworker, who seems to been romantically inclined towards him. He however doubts that she is a Party spy who will get him imprisoned for his ‘thoughtcrimes’. Her love turns out to be true and they have a covert affair. Smith’s hatred for the Party grows day by day and he is convinced that a powerful Party official O’Brien is actually trying to overthrow the present government with the help of a secret group named the Brotherhood. As the story goes on, readers learn the twists and turns that life in Oceania has in store for Smith. He faces terror, betrayal, freedom, and a broken spirit.

            Brave New World by Aldous Huxley: Aldous Huxley's profoundly important classic of world literature, Brave New World is a searching vision of an unequal, technologically-advanced future where humans are genetically bred, socially indoctrinated, and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively uphold an authoritarian ruling order--all at the cost of our freedom, full humanity, and perhaps also our souls. “A genius [who] who spent his life decrying the onward march of the Machine” (The New Yorker), Huxley was a man of incomparable talents: equally an artist, a spiritual seeker, and one of history’s keenest observers of human nature and civilization. Brave New World, his masterpiece, has enthralled and terrified millions of readers, and retains its urgent relevance to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying work of literature. Written in the shadow of the rise of fascism during the 1930s, Brave New World likewise speaks to a 21st-century world dominated by mass-entertainment, technology, medicine and pharmaceuticals, the arts of persuasion, and the hidden influence of elites.

            Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were. Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special—and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together. Suspenseful, moving, beautifully atmospheric, Never Let Me Go is modern classic.

            When She Woke by Hillary Jordan: Bellwether Prize winner Hillary Jordan’s provocative new novel, When She Woke, tells the story of a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of a not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but chromed―their skin color is genetically altered to match the class of their crimes―and then released back into the population to survive as best they can. Hannah is a Red; her crime is murder.

            In seeking a path to safety in an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a path of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith. (Note from Mrs. Tucker: This is a modern retelling of Scarlet Letter, so if you enjoyed the plot of SL, but not necessarily Hawthorne’s writing style, this will be a great read!)

 POST-READING ASSIGNMENT

Each of these novels feature a different type of dystopian future. Using your selected novel, respond to any of the following AP Exam essay prompts:

2012 Prompt:  And after all, our surroundings influence our lives and characters as much as fate, destiny or any supernatural agency.”  Pauline Hopkins, Contending Forces

Choose a novel or play in which cultural, physical, or geographical surroundings shape psychological or moral traits in a character. Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how surroundings affect this character and illuminate the meaning of the work as a whole*.  Do not merely summarize the plot.

2007 Form B Prompt:  Works of literature often depict acts of betrayal.  Friends and even family may betray a protagonist; main characters may likewise be guilty of treachery or may betray their own values. Select a novel or play that includes such acts of betrayal. Then, in a well-written essay, analyze the nature of the betrayal and show how it contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole*. In your essay do not merely summarize the plot.

2003 Form B Prompt:  Novel and plays often depict characters caught between colliding cultures – national, regional, ethnic, religious, institutional. Such collisions can call a character’s sense of identity into question. Select a novel or play in which a character responds to such a cultural collision. Then write a well-organized essay in which you describe the character’s response and explain its relevance to the work as a whole*. In your essay do not merely summarize the plot.

1995 Prompt:  Writers often highlight the values of a culture or a society by using characters who are alienated from that culture or society because of gender, race, class, or creed. Choose a novel or a play in which such a character plays a significant role, show how that character’s alienation reveals the surrounding society’s assumptions or moral values, and explain the relevance of the character’s alienation to the work as a whole*. In your essay do not merely summarize the plot.

1970 Prompt (revised):  Choose a character from a novel or play of recognized literary merit and write an essay in which you (a) briefly describe the standards of the fictional society in which the character exists, (b) show how the character is affected by and responds to those standards, and (c) discuss the significance of this relationship (character and society) on the work as a whole*. In your essay do not merely summarize the plot.

*Important Essay Note from Mrs. Tucker: All AP essays ask you to reflect on the “meaning of the work as a whole.”  This means to discuss how the concept supports a theme in the work, using specific examples.  It should be a separate paragraph before the conclusion. Without explicitly connecting your ideas to a theme, you will not score in the high end of the AP rubric. Essays that are almost exclusively plot summary without much analysis are also sure to fall on the lower end of the rubric.

Additionally, all work should be typed and double spaced in 12pt. Times New Roman font.  The AP essays should be several paragraphs using your best writing skills. Using textual evidence will make your essay stronger.  The length should be approximately 2 ½-3 typed pages.

 

Poetry Task

        As an introduction to the type of poetry discussions we will have throughout the year, you will be looking into the works of one of the poets we will study. The poets listed below are the ones most often featured on the AP exam. You will select one poet who you find especially appealing and then read five of his/her poems to get a clear introduction to their body of work. You MAY NOT read works you have previously studied. After reading, complete the assignment steps below.

Poets: WH Auden, Elizabeth Bishop*, William Blake, Anne Bradstreet, Edward Kamau Brathwaite*, Gwendolyn Brooks*, Robert Browning, George Gordon, Lord Byron, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Geoffrey Chaucer, Lucille Clifton, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Billy Collins*, HD (Hilda Doolittle), Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Rita Dove*, Paul Laurence Dunbar, TS Eliot, Robert Frost*, Joy Harjo, Seamus Heaney*, George Herbert, Garrett Hongo, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Langston Hughes, Ben Jonson, John Keats, Philip Larkin*, Robert Lowell, Andrew Marvell, John Milton, Marianne Moore*, Sylvia Plath*, Edgar Allan Poe, Alexander Pope, Adrienne Rich, Anne Sexton*, William Shakespeare, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Leslie Marmon Silko*, Cathy Song, Wallace Stevens, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Derek Walcott, Walt Whitman*, Richard Wilbur, William Carlos Williams, William Wordsworth, William Butler Yeats

(*s indicate poets who are always student favorites—I would start with these)

After reading, complete the following:

1. Provide your poet’s name as well as a list of the poems you selected.

2. Explain, in several sentences, why you selected this poet. What initially appealed to you about his/her work? What was especially beautiful, refreshing, touching, and/or relatable?

3.  In at least one paragraph, describe the common themes you notice emerging from this selection of work. What does the author want to reveal to us about the world? What is important to him/her and why?

4. In an additional paragraph, discuss how the poet develops these themes. You will want to include a discussion of literary elements such as tone, diction, details, figurative language, symbols, etc.

5. In a final paragraph, discuss any sound devices and/or rhetorical devices you observe. Does the poet have a preferred structure? Does the poet’s writing fit the tenets of a specific literary period? Since we have not begun to study poetry in the detail we will later in the semester, this paragraph may be a bit cursory, but I would like to hear your observations on form. You should at least make an attempt to tie form to function by answering the question why does the author pick the form he/she uses.

6. As a head’s up, you will be presenting one of these poems when we return in August, so you may want to select one now if you like to plan ahead. Poems are first come, first serve, and no more than one student may present on a poem, so you may want to email me your title early if you’re worried about others picking the same one.

**A note about reading poetry: if you are struggling with comprehension, I would recommend reading the poems several times over rather than once or twice. Each time, ask yourself what you do understand rather than focusing on what you cannot comprehend. Start with what you know/understand and go from there. At this point in our studies, it is much more important to me that you work on developing your own understanding rather than having ‘all the right answers.’ As such, your grade will be much lower if you simply copy thoughts and ideas from online analyses of the poem—instead, I want your authentic analyses and thoughts, no matter how superficial.

 

DUE DATES

Please email me your novel choice by June 4, 2018. I just need the title and author you plan to read. My email is Emily.tucker@carrollcountyschools.com. You may also email me throughout the summer with questions as you have them.

I will collect your completed essay and poetry analysis on August 10, 2018. We will also complete class activities, for a grade, on these novels and poems when we return to school. Make sure you plan accordingly so that you will start the semester off on the right foot.

 

A note on plagiarism: This is my 10th year teaching, and I have read thousands of essays in my time at VRHS. I can very easily distinguish between authentic student voice and plagiarized essays. Please allow yourself plenty of time to complete the assignment on your own so that you will not be tempted to plagiarize your work. Any essays that are partially or wholly plagiarized will receive no credit.

 

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