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Advanced Placement English 12 Summer Assignment

 Summer Reading Assignment

Advanced Placement English 12:  Literature and Composition

Council Rock High School North

Dear Student,

You have elected to take a challenging English course in your senior year.  It is not only the honors-level English 12 course, but it is also the course which prepares you to take the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition exam in May.  Depending on where you decide to attend college and your score on the exam, you can potentially earn college credits.

The College Board Advanced Placement Program English Committee “agrees with Henry David Thoreau that it is wisest to read the best books first” and that “[r]eading in the AP course should be both wide and deep. . . . [I]t should include the in-depth reading of texts drawn from multiple genres, periods, and cultures.”  In addition, “[c]areful attention to both textual detail and historical context should provide a foundation for interpretation, whatever critical perspectives are brought to bear on the literary work studied.”

The committee also comments on the depth and variety of writing assignments appropriate for the course.  “The writing that students produce in the course reinforces their reading.  Some of this writing should be informal and exploratory . . . [s]ome of the course writing should involve research . . . [much] writing should involve extended discourse.”

We invite you, then, to begin your AP in-depth reading and exploratory writing during your summer vacation.  The assignment will allow you to experience a novel by a Nobel Prize-winning American writer and to practice some interpretive skills.  When we meet as a class at the beginning of the school year, we will be able to begin our course work immediately.


1.  Students will read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.  They may sign out copies of the novel from the school collection (see English Department Coordinator, Ms. Morris-Bauer.)  Students may, however, wish to buy their own copies of the text.

2.  Students will maintain a hand-written reading journal.  The journal MUST be kept in a hand-written composition book.  Each journal entry should be dated; entries should be made frequently during the reading of the literary work, a minimum of 10 entries.

3.  Journal entries will include textual fragments from the novel; that is, students will copy into their journals brief pieces of text that are interesting or meaningful to them. 

4.  Journal entries will also include the students’ responses and reactions to each textual fragment as well as to the overall text.  Students will practice “close reading,” i.e. particular literary analysis rather than plot summary.

[Quoted passages are from The College Board Advanced Placement Course Description for English Literature and Composition, Educational Testing Service, 2002.]

5.  Completed journals and fully annotated books must be brought to class on the first day of school.  In addition, typed entries for grading (see #7. in "Directions") must be submitted on the first day of school.


1.  Read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison.  If you buy your own copy, annotate it as you read.  Highlight sections that you would like to revisit; make marginal notes about content, cross-references, and Morrison’s style.  If you use a school copy, annotate on post-it notes.

2.  When you finish reading a section, copy chosen text into your journal and record your thoughts and responses as soon as possible.  Your journal needs to combine “close reading” with “reader-response writing.”  Use a double-entry journal technique (see #3 below).

3.  First, copy the text from the novel exactly.  Insert an MLA-style citation at the end of your copied text.  Next, create a new paragraph for your response:  label it “What I Think.”

4.  Under “What I Think” DO NOT WRITE SUMMARY.  Do not simply explain what you know about characters, plot, or setting.  Instead, reveal critical thinking.

5.  Here is a list of verbs that will help you critically:  describe, explain, predict, identify, differentiate, translate, interpret, extrapolate, analyze, compare, classify, arrange, assess, conclude, connect, evaluate.

6.  Each “What I Think” response should be one paragraph long.  You must write a minimum of 10 double-entry responses.

7.  Be prepared to submit four typed text/response journal entries for a grade.  The entries must represent the following:

  • one text and response entry from the beginning (chapters 1-3)
  • two text and response entries from the middle (chapters 4-12)
  • one text and response entry from the end (chapters 13-15)
  • follow all requirements as delineated here

8.  Each text and response entry will be assessed on the basis of the following:

  • choice of text is relevant and worthy of interpretive study
  • response is thoughtful, critical, interpretive, and indicative of close reading, avoiding plot summary.  The response is written in the style of a mature, sophisticated high school senior.  

Council Rock School District strongly encourages parents to survey the outstanding collection of challenging literature contained within our program.  Much of the content presents important and complex ideas that encourage critical thinking.  Any connection discussed in class is made that much stronger by the conversation and connections that are made at home.  We invite you to discuss any of the elements of our courses with your child’s teacher.