Honors American Literature - Composition (11th Grade) 2011 – 2012 Summer Reading Students may find all books in the public library or may purchase them from a bookstore/ thrift store/ on-line. Purchasing books allows the opportunity to annotate while reading (making notes in the margins, highlighting passages, etc.) - a reading technique used to deepen understanding of text; post-it notes may be used too. Be ready to BRING TEXS to class during many days during the first two weeks of class – plan ahead! Any copying of work (that’s plagiarism!) for summer reading will result in a ZERO for all students involved at any level. Late summer reading work will lose – 20% per day. Students should be ready for objective tests on texts at any time after the 3 rd day of class. (*The number in parentheses following summaries of texts is the Lexile score, a developmental scale for reading ranging from below 200L for beginning-reader material to above 1700L for advanced texts. Check: www.lexile.com for more information.) PART I: Read ONE of the following texts fron this part (1.) The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne): “The Scarlet Letter, written in 1850, is set in 17th-century Puritan Boston. It tells the story of Hester Prynne, who gives birth after committing adultery and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt. In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne uses the repressive, authoritarian Puritan society as an analogue for humankind in general. The Puritan setting also enables him to portray the human soul under extreme pressures. Hester, Dimmesdale, and Chillingsworth, while unquestionably part of the Puritan society in which they live, also reflect universal experiences.” (Wikipedia and Spark Notes) (Lexile Level: 1340) (2.) The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck): “The Grapes of Wrath, written in 1939 by John Steinbeck, focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers, the Joads, driven from their home by drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agriculture industry. In a nearly hopeless situation, they set out for California's Central Valley along with thousands of other "Okies" in search of land, jobs, and dignity. With their farm repossessed, the Joads seek solace in hope; hope inscribed on the handbills which are distributed everywhere in Oklahoma, describing the beautiful and fruitful country of California and high pay to be had in that state. As they journey west and hear many stories, some coming from those leaving California, they are forced to confront the possibility that their prospects may not be what they hoped. Their struggle is long and difficult. There are some very realistic, mature scenes of hardship and survival in the text.” (from Wikipedia) (Lexile Level: 680) (3.) Their Eyes Were Watching God ( Hurston): “Their Eyes Were Watching God is a 1937 novel and the best-known work by African American writer Zora Neale Hurston. Set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century, the novel garnered attention and controversy at the time of its publication, and has come to be regarded as a seminal work in both African American literature and women's literature. The main character, an African American woman in her early forties named Janie Crawford, tells the story of her life and journey via an extended flashback to her best friend, Pheoby, so that Pheoby can tell Janie's story to the nosy community on her behalf. Aside from topics of race and gender roles and oppression Hurston's work has also been praised as well as censured for its artistic style and symbolism. Hurston's work is, the majority of the time, a reflection of her own self and her experiences.” (from Wikipedia) (Lexile Level: 1080) (4.) The Bean Trees (Kingsolver): “The Bean Trees, published in 1988, is the first book written by Barbara Kingsolver. The protagonist, Taylor Greer, wants to escape small-town life. She saves enough money to buy herself an old Volkswagen bug and she leaves Kentucky to see what life has to offer her. Her car breaks down in Oklahoma near Cherokee territory. As she sits in her car, a woman approaches and puts a baby in the front seat of Taylor’s car, telling her to take it. The remainder of the novel traces the experiences of Taylor and the child, whom Taylor names Turtle. Covering Turtle's early childhood, the story includes a colorful cast of characters, including a Guatemalan couple and Mattie, the owner of Jesus Is Lord Used Tires. The novel also makes reference to the issue of Native American parental rights.” (from Wikipedia) (Lexile Level: 900) PART II: Read ONE of the following texts from this part (1.) Tuesdays With Morrie (Albom): “ Mitch Albom earned his BA from Brandeis University, where he studied with professor Morrie Schwartz. One night in 1995, Mitch is flipping the channels on his television and recognizes Morrie's voice on the tv program ‘Nightline.’ Albom began gathering notes for his book, Tuesdays With Morrie, which documents his and Morrie's discussions on the meaning of life which they hold each Tuesday of every week in Morrie's home. Morrie was dying from ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Popular culture, Morrie says, is founded on greed, selfishness, and superficiality, which he urges Mitch to overcome. Mitch and Morrie refer to the book as their "last thesis together." Morrie continually tells Mitch that he wants to share his stories with the world, and the book will allow him to do just that.” (from Spark Notes) (Lexile Level: 830) (2.) The Gatekeepers (Steinberg): “The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College examines the inner workings of admissions committees at prestigious colleges and universities in the United States and addresses the changing face of American higher level education in the 21st century. Steinberg follows the life of Wesleyan University admissions officer Ralph Figueroa and various college applicants for almost an entire year as they undergo the stressful and tiring college admissions process. He touches upon such hot button issues such as affirmative action, recruiting, standardized testing and the significance of the SATs. His book also highlights the importance of essays and personal statements in a college application in conveying the individual behind the test scores and numbers.” (from Wikipedia) (3.) The Lords of Discipline ( Conroy): “The Lords of Discipline (published 1980) is a novel by Pat Conroy. The narrator, Will McLean, attends the South Carolina Military Institute (a fictional military college based on The Citadel) in Charleston, from 1963 to 1967. The novel takes place in four parts. The first describes the beginning of his senior year and the admission of new freshmen into the plebe system. The second is an extensive flashback into his own plebe year. The third focuses on the main body of his senior year and his conflict with the plebe system. The fourth and final part relates to Will's battle against the mysterious Ten. The text contains mature scenes and issues. Although Conroy drew on his experiences as a cadet at The Citadel, as well as stories from similar military schools during the 1960s to create the setting for the story, he has explicitly stated that the novel's plot and principal characters are a product of his imagination.” (from Wikipedia) (Lexile Level: 980) Assessments: 1.) Students will participate in Literature Circle discussion groups of their summer reading texts. Be prepared to be an active participant in these graded discussions. 2.) Objective tests (multiple choice, matching, etc.) will be given over the summer reading texts during the 2nd week of school. As you read, think about: plot, character development, theme, writing style. Remember, you need to read ONE text from Part I and ONE text from Part II. 3.) Students are encouraged to take notes as they read both texts!!!!!! Handwritten notes will improve your ability to discuss, your ability to remember and your ability to earn better grades on objective tests. Take handwritten Notes!!!!! 4.) Additional activities involving the texts may be assigned for each text at the start of the semester. Teacher will announce during class.