Here are my thoughts on summer work: I want it to be meaningful, enjoyable, and reasonable. Overloading you with tedious assignments to “set the tone” for the class isn’t my style and doesn’t really benefit you. The only tone I want to set is one of reading texts you find interesting and an opportunity to experiment with your writing voice. This is especially true after these last few years of learning during a pandemic; we are all tired and need a break, so
All summer reading is OPTIONAL and the writing assignments can be done when school starts, but I highly recommend reading this summer to keep your skills fresh and mind active and writing this summer to ease your load in the fall.
Part 1: Reading
Here’s a list of my favorite 25 contemporary novels for AP Literature (in alphabetical order) that we’re not using in class this year. The links take you to my GoodReads account for a personal review; however, you can read whatever draws you in! If you need recommendations, reach out and tell me three books you love and one you don’t love, and I’ll make a couple of recommendations.
All the Light We Cannot See – Doerr
Behold the Dreamers – Mbue
Exit West – Hamid
The Goldfinch – Tartt
Homegoing – Gyasi
In the Time of the Butterflies-Alvarez
Kindred – Octavia Butler
The Leavers – Ko
Little Bee – Cleeve
The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois – Honorée Fanonne Jeffers
Mudbound – Jordan
The Namesake – Lahiri
The Nix – Hill
Pachinko – Lee Min-jin
The Poisonwood Bible-Kingsolver
A Prayer for Owen Meany – Irving
Purple Hibiscus – Adichie
Salvage the Bones – Ward
The Secret History – Tartt
Sing, Unburied, Sing – Ward
Southernmost – House
There,There – Orange
A Thousand Splendid Suns – Hosseini
White Teeth – Smith
More of a nonfiction person? Try –
Becoming – Obama
The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui
Between the World and Me – Coates
Born a Crime – Noah (highly recommend audio version that Noah reads)
Educated – Westover
How the Word Is Passed – Clint Smith
Just Mercy – Stevenson
Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Carmon and Knizhnik
They Can’t Kill Us Til They Kill Us – Abdurraqib
21st Lessons for the 21st Century – Yuval Noah Harari
If you read a book over the summer, please tell me what you read and what you thought about it in your introduction letter. Which leads me to . . .
Part II: Write a Letter to Me
Read this letter from me to you then write a letter to me that you deliver to me the first week of school. The directions are in my letter.
Part III: Summer/Fall Journal
Reading and writing are rooted in experience. Having a broad range of experiences is important to understanding the many ideas explored in the works we read. In addition, a large part of this class is about helping you find your writing voice. Finding your voice takes time.
In preparation, I would like for you to spend some time reflecting, experiencing new things, and writing. You should be prepared to submit your journal no later than the end of the first nine weeks of school but can turn it in anytime after school starts – here’s your chance to get ahead. Be yourself when you write. Don’t try to be too serious or academic. Be funny. Be sarcastic. Be vulnerable. Be real.
- 15 journal entries reflecting on your day or a portion of your day. Hopefully your journal will be much more (and a little less) than a diary. I am not interested in your daily routine or what you had for lunch. If, on the other hand, you wish to record your dreams last night or a rough draft of a poem or an interesting quote from a friend, please utilize your journal. Each entry should be about a page in length.
- A minimum five entries (but not limited to) of the entries should be based on the following activities. Please label these according to the activity number.
2. Go to a museum or a historic attraction. Try the High Museum, Carter Presidential Library, Atlanta History Center, Fernbank Museum, Trap House Museum. Many of these places offer free days so check ahead.
3. Spend a day without electronics (no cell phones, ipods, TVs, etc). I would love for everyone to try this.
5. Go for a hike. Morningside Nature Preserve is really close, but there are lots of great places just a little farther out like Sweetwater Creek, Providence Canyon, Amicalola Falls, or the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. If you really want to have some fun, check out the Doll’s Head Trail in Atlanta.
6. Talk with a grandparent or older adult about life in their younger years. Count this as two entries if you record it on StoryCorps.
7. Go tent camping.
9. Eat a meal from a foreign culture.
10. Work at a shelter, food pantry, or other organization preparing or delivering food.
11. Prepare a meal for your family and then enjoy it with them.
13. Buy some fruit at a local farmer’s market then bake a cake or cobbler.
14. Attend a service or interview a person of a different religion.
15. Repair or build something or do some kind of maintenance (changing oil, rotating tires).
16. Plan a trip – map out the route, find places to stay, and points of interest to visit.
17. Spend an evening playing board games or cards with your family or friends.
18. Visit a cemetery and read the headstones. Consider the history of family, community, state, and nation embodied in these headstones. Reflect on your experiences. Creepy but fun. Oakland Cemetery is my favorite .
19. Visit a quiet spot on a beach, by a stream, or by a lake. Spend an hour in thought and record your thoughts in a journal or notebook.
20. Spend a morning or afternoon exploring a neighborhood in Atlanta that you’re not familiar with.
21. Do something you don’t normally do; the point is to try new things in order to experience the world through a different lens.
Will I read your journal?
I will only read with your permission. I will, of course, want to read a page or so about each of your summer activities and readings, but you are free to photocopy or transcribe these or designate sections of your journals as personal.
Writing more in your journal will benefit YOU. There will be a reward later for being diligent in your journaling efforts; the reward – being more in tune with your writing style and voice. Consistent writing improves your writing skills. Happy journaling!
If you need to get in touch with me over the summer, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be happy to answer any questions. Have a great summer, and I’ll see you on the first day of your SENIOR year!
Cheering you on,