Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer Reading and Writing Homework: Bring with Book to Class on First Day!

Dear Future AP Composition Student,

Welcome! I'm looking forward to being your teacher next year for the AP writing course, Language and Composition. This letter gives you a brief description of your summer reading and writing work to prepare you for my class—and to make sure that it is really the right class for you. In Language and Composition, you can expect to read a lot of non-fiction, and to write, and write, and write some more! (If that does not sound like the course you wanted, you may want to sign up for English III or English IV instead.)

Here is a brief description of the work you should do for me before fall:

  1. Read any one of the titles on the summer reading list (on the back). As you read, please keep a Double Entry Journal on what you read, either by hand or on a computer. Write one entry every 30—50 pages or so. You don't have to be exact on your page counts, but you should finish with at least five journal entries, fairly evenly spaced out, by the end of the book.
You should bring BOTH the book AND the journal—printed out—to class on the first day, as you'll be using them to help you with a graded writing assignment that day.
  1. Write a letter to the editor of the local paper. To do this, read over a few issues of your local paper and see what you find there. Is there an issue you would like to bring up? Great: write 300—500 words and share your thoughts. Otherwise, pick an editorial you find in the paper and write a response to it.
    Mail one copy of your letter to your paper and another to me, at the school (Gateway Regional High School, 12 Litttleville Rd., Huntington, MA 01050). Please include a copy of the editorial you are responding to if that's what you've done. If your letter is published in the paper, you will receive an A on this assignment. If you simply write the letter, you will receive a B. If you bring a printed copy of the published paper to school on the first day, you will receive an A+!
    Hint: you are much more likely to be published if you aim at a small-circulation local paper. YOU SHOULD COMPLETE THIS ASSIGNMENT DURING THE SUMMER.

If this seems like more work than you want to do this summer, perhaps this isn't actually the class for you.

Questions? You can reach me by email, at


Cat Bishop
Gateway English Department

Choose one of the following.
  • Beavan, Colin. No Impact Man: The Adventures of a Guilty Liberal Who Attempts to Save the Planet, and the Discoveries He Makes about Himself in the Process.
  • Corwin, Miles. And Still We Rise: The Trials and Triumphs of Twelve Gifted Inner-City Students.
  • Ehrenrich, Barbara. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America.
  • Gill, Michael Gates. How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live like Everyone Else.
  • Krakauer, John. Into the Wild.
  • Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals.
  • Walls, Jeannette. The Glass Castle: A Memoir.
As you read, keep a reading journal on your book. You may write these journals by hand or on a computer, but they must be printed by the first day of class. These journals will consist of quotations to which you respond critically for each work.

Select one quotation or passage for approximately every 50 pages or so. You should have at least five by the time you're done. Responses should be developed paragraphs, not just a scrawled sentence or two—and don't simply restate what the writer is saying. Think about it, and comment thoughtfully.
Entries should look something like this:

Quote Response
Write the quote from the book on the left side of the paper with the correct MLA citation” (Author 176).
In other words, follow each quote with the name of the author and the page number of the quote.

Your response and analysis of the quote should be written on the opposite side of the page.
For the response column, you have several ways to respond to a text and you only need to use one way. You might:
  • Raise questions about the beliefs and values implied in the text.
  • Give your personal reactions to the passage.
  • Discuss the words, ideas, or actions of the author or a character.
  • Tell what it reminds you of from your own experiences or from current events, etc.
  • Write about what it makes you think or feel.
  • Argue with or speak to the character or author.