AP 12 English Literature & Composition

Summer Reading Assignment

Congratulations on your choice to take AP Literature.  Students choosing this course are interested in studying literature of various periods and genres and using this wide reading knowledge in discussions of literary topics. This is a college-level course that requires careful reading and critical analysis of a work’s structure, style, and themes as well as smaller scale elements, such as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone. Thoughtful discussions and writing about complex, canonical texts in the company of one’s fellow students is our goal.  It goes without saying that you should be reading a bit in preparation for this course. Specifically, we ask that you select and read one of the following texts and complete the assignments outlined to help us to build upon a common conversation at the beginning of the year.  

Reading Assignments:

Before beginning your selection, read “How to Mark a Book” by Mortimer Adler.  (The essay is easy to find on-line by searching for the title and author; still, a link to the essay will be found on the high school’s English Webpage by the end of May.)

One goal of this course is to help you round out and “fill in gaps” in your literary experience.  Consider that when choosing a book from the list below, then choose one of the following texts to read and annotate according to Adler’s description.


To the Lighthouse – Virginia Woolf

        On the Road – Jack Kerouac

        The Scarlet Letter  - Nathaniel Hawthorne

        Slaughterhouse Five – Kurt Vonnegut

For Whom The Bell Tolls - Ernest


Anthem- Ayn Rand        

Ceremony - Leslie Marmon Silko

The Joy Luck Club- Amy Tan

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent -  Julia


All of these books are readily available at your local library and from major bookstores.  If you use a library copy of the text, be sure to annotate using sticky notes. We recommend getting your own copy so that you can annotate freely.  It is also recommend that you do a little research to determine which novel you would like to read - try goodreads, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble for reviews and synopses.

Writing Assignment 

Critic Roland Barthes has said, “Literature is the question minus the answer.” Choose a novel, or play, and, considering Barthes’ observation, write an essay in which you analyze a central question the work raises and the extent to which it offers answers. Explain how the author’s treatment of this question affects your understanding of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

Your assignment should be MLA formatted, including in-text citations and a Works Cited Page.

If you have questions, contact the English Department Chair – Melissa Lewis  - mlewis@cfsd16.org

Have fun!  Happy Reading! We’ll see you in August.

 -AP English Literature Teachers


AP English: Literature and Composition Rubric:

Based off of the 2008 AP Scoring Guide


9–8 These essays offer a well-focused and persuasive analysis of the topic. Using apt and specific textual support, these essays fully explore the topic and demonstrate what it contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. Although not without flaws, these essays make a strong case for their interpretation and discuss the literary work with significant insight and understanding. Generally, essays scored a 9 reveal more sophisticated analysis and more effective control of language than do those scored an 8.


7–6 These essays offer a reasonable analysis of the topic. They explore the topic and demonstrate what it contributes to the meaning of the work as a whole. These essays show insight and understanding, but the analysis is less thorough, less perceptive, and/or less specific in supporting detail than that of those in the 9–8 range. Generally, essays scored a 7 present better-developed analysis and more consistent command of the elements of effective composition than do those scored a 6.


5 These essays respond to the assigned task with a plausible reading, but they tend to be superficial or underdeveloped in analysis. They often rely on plot summary that contains some analysis, implicit or explicit. Although the essays attempt to discuss the topic and how it contributes to the work as a whole, they may demonstrate a rather simplistic understanding of the work. Typically, these responses reveal unsophisticated thinking and/or immature writing. They demonstrate adequate control of language, but they may lack effective organization and may be marred by surface errors.


4–3 These lower-half essays offer a less than thorough understanding of the task or a less than adequate treatment of it. They reflect an incomplete or oversimplified understanding of the work.  They may not address or develop a response to how that relationship contributes to the work as a whole, or they may rely on plot summary alone. Their assertions may be unsupported or even irrelevant. Often wordy, elliptical, or repetitious, these essays may lack control over the elements of college-level composition. Essays scored a 3 may contain significant misreading and demonstrate inept writing.


2–1 Although these essays make some attempt to respond to the prompt, they compound the weaknesses of those in the 4–3 range. Often, they are unacceptably brief or are incoherent in presenting their ideas. They may be poorly written on several counts and contain distracting errors in grammar and mechanics. The ideas are presented with little clarity, organization, or supporting evidence. Particularly inept, vacuous, and/or incoherent essays must be scored a 1.


0 These essays do no more than make a reference to the task.


These essays either are left blank or are completely off topic.