Advanced Placement (AP) Program » 2020 Summer Work For AP English Literature

2020 Summer Work For AP English Literature


Dear Future AP Literature and Composition Scholar,


Welcome to AP Lit!  I am very excited about the academic journey we will take together next year.   In preparation for the course, please do the following:


  1. Join our AP Lit summer google classroom. The code is pw5vqzf.

  1. Answer the brief google form survey to help me get to know you.

  1. Read ONE of the following four novels:

Caramleo (Sandra Cisneros)

Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Junot Diaz)

There There (Tommy Orange)

Sing, Unburied, Sing (Jesmyn Ward)


The summer reading is optional this year, due to the uncertainty and challenges created by the pandemic.   In addition to the complications of the pandemic, I know that if there is any pressure associated with reading, it has the potential to take away the intrinsic joy of a good book.  I want you to be able to actually enjoy this summer reading experience!


So if it’s optional, why read it?


  1. Reading a good work of literature is one of the true joys of life.  If you don’t believe me, you haven’t read the right book yet.

  1. Reading a good work of literature makes you smarter.  Don’t you want to be smarter?

  1. Reading a complex novel strengthens your reading brain and increases your reading stamina.  Digital content and social media have changed the way we read, and therefore the way we think.  Focusing on a complex novel strengthens your reading brain in a particular way that is healthy for our frazzled minds that are constantly distracted by the digital world.

  1. Reading an additional  work of literature increases your chances of scoring on the AP exam.  The more you read, the stronger a reader you are; in many ways the AP exam is a reading exam.  In addition, for essay question #3, you will be given a prompt that you can write about using any work of fiction. The more works of literature you have in your “mental back pocket,” the higher your chances of writing a good essay - no matter what the prompt is.

  • Reading another work of literature gives you an additional option for a future writing assignment and a future “extra-credit” assignment.

There is no formal assignment with the reading of the novel - but as you read, take note of things you would want to discuss with others who have read it.  At the beginning of the year you will have an opportunity to discuss the book with others who read it. 


A note about why I chose these particular four books as options: they are all works of literary merit that I personally happen to love.  They all do interesting things with narrative point of view and deal with similar themes (including family, community, and history, to name a few.)  In addition, they are all written by authors of color.   We will also read some great works of literature by white authors this year, but because of our white supremacist society, too often the works of literature that are considered “major works of literary merit” by the dominant U.S. culture were written by white authors.  This is wrong and we are all impoverished if we read mostly authors from one culture/race, especially if that is the culture/race that is dominant in our country.  These amazing authors and texts on the list will enrich you if you read them.  


In non-pandemic years, I would have gotten a copy of your book choice to you before the school year ended.  However, you can find these books at bookstores (including online) or your local library.  If you need help getting a copy of the book, reach out to me and I will help you figure it out.  Before you make your choice, I encourage you to skim through the books to get a sense of the writer’s style, read summaries to find out what they are about, or ask people (including me) which one they would recommend.  


I also encourage you to begin working on your personal statement for college applications if you have not already done that.  In AP Lit, we are not able to devote much time during the school year to personal statements.  However, I am happy to support you with it before the school year begins.  If you have a draft of a personal statement you would like feedback on, want to schedule a google meet conference to discuss ideas about your personal statement, or need some direction as to how to begin, please reach out to me.  The best window to get support from me on college personal statements is before August 15th.


Feel free to email me with any questions or concerns at mcnugent@cps.edu.   I will try to check and respond to email regularly.  However, I will be unable to respond to email from August 15-August 26.  


As C.S. Lewis said, “ We read to know we are not alone.”   I am looking forward to a wonderful year of reading together and exploring the human connections that great literature illuminates for us!


Take care,


Ms. Nugent