A normal part of many AP English classes is summer reading. Often the summer reading instructors ask students to complete is a novel and a work of non-fiction. However, I am asking you read a series of essays as a way of preparing for the reading and the thinking of this AP class. This does not mean that I don’t want students to read whole novels and works of non-fiction during the summer; I strongly recommend an encourage reading some of the classic American novels and works of non-fiction.
I want students to read and focus on a series of essays from various times in American history to the present, from various publications and sources, from various view points written in various styles for various purposes to various audiences. Some of these essays are from well established writers and are historically significant. Other essays are recently published by contemporary writers and the essays may not survive the test of time. Some essays take a narrative structure; others develop using more recognizably established essay methods. Some of these essays contain ideas that I would agree with and others do not. All, I believe, are worth the read, and thought that you will put into them. All of these essays present an argument in their own way which is what I want students to think about and into. As students read, they should consider the following questions: What is the structure of the argument? How is it presented? What language is used to convey the argument? What evidence is used to support the argument? How is it arranged or organized? And finally, what is my, or should be my response to this argument?
Students should start reading with the following three articles about reading: “The Activity and Art of Reading” from How to Read a Book by Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren, “Starting to Read: Final Preparations” from The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer, and “How’d He Do That?” from How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster. As students read these three articles, they should underline key ideas that will help in further reading. Then students should summarize those ideas, especially those they believe will help them in future reading during the summer and coming year, in a journal or notebook. Students must employ these reading strategies as they read the other essays. Students may read the other essays, but two, in any order they like. I strongly suggest reading each essay, annotating the essay, and writing one’s thoughts in response to it in one sitting. Finally, the last two essays that students should read are “Why Read the Classics” by Italo Calvino, and “Good Readers and Good Writers” by Vladimir Nabokov.
Finally, I hope to have my class blog for AP Lang. + Comp. up and running sometime during the week of June 11th. After that time students will be able to go to the blog in order to share their thoughts, respond to questions, and ask questions about the essays. Log into the blog at http://classblogmeister.com/
. Students should use their first and last name as their log in name and the password “Lang+Comp”. Check for assignments and postings after June 11th.