Prerequisite Reading Assignments

Advanced Placement and Honors Pre-reading Assignments

The following courses have pre-reading and preparation requirements due on the first day of class.

These assignments are mandatory for all students enrolled in the courses listed. Assignments should be completed by the first day of class. Fall and spring courses have the same expectations.

Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition

In order to introduce you to the kind of reading we’ll be doing, we are sending you a few reading assignments that you may find challenging and enjoyable. Having your own book will allow you to practice the close and active reading strategies outlined by the enclosed Mortimer Adler essay.

Day 1 evaluation: timed essay on the novel during week 1; quizzes on AP Terms week 1; intensive discussion of the novel week 1.


  1. Look over the Literary Terms sheet. Define those terms with which you are unfamiliar or uncertain. You may find it helpful to type in “literary terms dictionary” if you go to the Internet as a resource; otherwise, use a dictionary of literary terms (Oxford, Penguin, and Norton are good). You will be quizzed on your knowledge of these terms during the first week of the course.
  2. Read through Mortimer Adler essay, “How to Mark a Book.” We strongly encourage you to practice his suggestions on the required summer novel. When you read for this class, please look for things that puzzle you, disturb you, or resonate with you. Mark them. Ask questions in the margins; underline things that interest you. Read actively. If you’re using a book you don’t own, use post-it notes to create a response log as you read.
  3. Purchase (or borrow) a copy of Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. As you read Adler-style, please write your responses to the following questions on a separate piece of paper. We will collect this on the first day of school. In addition, pay special attention to the concept of identity.
    1. What is the author’s style?—consider diction, syntax, and tone. Find three passages that illustrate the author’s style best. You really must learn what these terms mean before you discuss them.
    2. What are some illuminating quotes or passages? (Pare your choices down to 3-5.) Paraphrase – don't quote – them and cite page numbers. State in one paragraph (that discusses all selected passages) the reason(s) you think these quotes or passages are illuminating to the meaning of the work as a whole.
    3. What themes are presented in the novel? Remember that a theme is statement (a complete sentence) – not a word. Briefly explain why you’ve selected these themes. (Three to five themes are sufficient.)
    4. Be prepared to write a timed essay response on Slaughterhouse-Five by Vonnegut during the first week of the term.
  4. Review and prepare to discuss. When you’ve finished the novel, please review your markings, notes/comments, questions, and so on.
    • Ask yourself, and briefly respond to the questions below:
      1. How does Vonnegut use setting to develop character and theme?
      2. How do Vonnegut’s plot choices impact the themes presented in the novel?
      3. How does the point of view impact character development, tone, and audience perception of the main character? (You are the audience.)
      4. Keep your responses to these questions separate from your responses to questions A-C from #3.
      5. Our first three-four days together will center on discussion of Slaughterhouse-Five. The organization and legibility of your responses to question #4 will help you participate intelligently, so write clearly!
  5. If you have not taken the Mythology class and/or have little knowledge of Greek/Roman mythology, obtain a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology (from the library or bookstore) and familiarize yourself with the Greek and Roman gods, goddesses, and myths covered. Many works of literature assume knowledge of this subject.
  6. Enjoy reading! If you have any questions about this assignment, please email the AP Literature teacher listed on your schedule. We will check our email at least once per week this summer.
"I would like you to begin thinking about the idea of literature as a made thing. By this I mean that the writers of great fiction do more than tell a story by simply relaying information about characters and events. They deliberately guide us through fictional representations of worlds, making choices about how to tell their story in order to bring certain aspects of a (our) world into focus and give them presence. Using the story as a roadmap through our own human experience, we often begin to explore the questions that are most important to us as human beings."

Words of wisdom from high school teacher, Eileen Murphy

Additional recommendations: annotate novel and essay (and all other readings) according to prescriptions in Adler’s essay; prepare for intensive discussion of the novel; read Hamilton’s Mythology if you have not studied mythology or taken Mythology; return to annotations to review and consider them.

Advanced Placement English Language and Composition

Enroll in the AP English Language and Composition Canvas page. Keep in mind: formats for these files are occasionally scrambled in browsers, so we recommend downloading the files and opening them independently of sharing systems like Google Docs. In AP formatting, use of space and all other components of writing are important. This includes margins, typeface (font) and placement of graphics.

This work must be completed by the first day of class. It is critical for you to be prepared and to have an understanding of how our course works and what our goals will be. If you fail to complete these assignments, you demonstrate to us that you are not ready for the rigor and required effort of an Advanced Placement course, more specifically this Advanced Placement course.

  1. Read Kevin Kling’s essay "Rhetoric". Write up a working definition of rhetoric (about 200 words, though that’s an arbitrary amount of writing; write more if it takes more). Think of this as an exploration of what rhetoric is and isn’t. Consider how language works in various situations. What is Kling saying about language? About rhetoric?
  2. Read and take quality notes on Part I of Everything’s an Argument. Part I is comprised of four chapters:
    1. Chapter 1 – General
    2. Chapter 2 – Pathos
    3. Chapter 3 – Ethos
    4. Chapter 4 – Logos
      We recommend printing them so you can highlight and annotate. Note: use the "rotate document" button on the web reader version of Adobe Reader.
  3. Close-read Annie Dillard's essay "The Death of a Moth" and create a thorough Close Reading Journal. You may notice that the document has a wide right margin. This margin is no accident. If you prefer, stop by and borrow a hard copy of "50 Essays," which contains the Dillard essay and many other pieces we will study.
    • Beware: Virginia Woolf wrote an essay called "Death of The Moth." You may read this essay but it is not the assigned essay. Further beware: several versions of Dillard's essay are found on the web. Most omit some of the text we will study. Reading the wrong essay is not an excuse for missing questions. The last two paragraphs of the proper text begin "And that is why..." and "I have three candles..."
    • Follow these directions: Dillard Close Reading Journal (CRJ) to complete the assignment. This will take you a fair amount of time if you do it correctly.

Optional: AP Comp is a course about writing. The teachers have been heavily influenced by books about writing. We recommend that you read in this genre, too. We recommend that you read Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, Words Like Loaded Pistols by Sam Leith, or another book about writing. As indicated, this is optional, but because this course is a close study of language and the composing process, books like the three listed will prime you for this new way of thinking about how we use language – how we write.

Advanced Placement United States History

Advanced Placement U.S. History has required summer reading due on the first day of the class. This includes notes on the first chapter of our textbook and marking up an essay for a Socratic seminar. Visit our Canvas page to find the materials. If you have any questions, email

English 9 Honors

You should complete the assignments before our first class, as they will form the basis of our first several classroom discussions. If you take the course during second semester, the assignments are not due until the first day of class in second semester. Regardless of which semester that you have the course, be sure to review the novel before class begins.

Information on how to annotate a text is linked below. Our hope is that the following tasks will encourage you to look at the world differently and that our subsequent discussions will help you to be mindful citizens.

  • Purchase a copy of Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck or check out a copy from either Mr. Johnston, Ms. Kelly, or Ms. Regnier in the third floor English wing. If possible, we encourage you to purchase a copy of the book, which is typically available for about $9 at local bookstores. The paperback edition of the book we use (Penguin Publishers) has this number on the back, near the bar code: ISBN-978-0-14-17739-8.
    • If you check out a school copy, you’ll need to use Post-it Notes or something similar, rather than writing in the book. Books will be available for check-out in the second floor office of the high school throughout the summer (and fall semester if you are a second-semester student).
  • Read the book and annotate according to the handout. The beauty of annotating is that it slows down your reading, giving you time to think, to relish. If annotating as you read is frustrating, read a chapter in its entirety and then go back and annotate it. Reading a text a second time is preferable anyway. Keep in mind that your annotations ought to include comments – evidence of thinking and notes to yourself so you remember why you marked a particular selection.
  • On the first day of class, be prepared to:
    • Submit your annotated book.
    • Take an objective, multiple-choice quiz on the novel addressing plot, characters, setting, symbols, theme, and vocabulary.

Mark Johnston,
Shannon Kelly,
Colleen Regnier,

English 9 Honors Annotation Guide

English 10 Honors

Complete the assignments below before our first class as they will form the basis of our first several classroom discussions. Our hope is that the following text will encourage you to look at the world differently and that our subsequent discussions will help you to be mindful citizens.

  1. Purchase a copy of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (ISBN: 978-0-06-231500-7). If you are unable to purchase a copy, please contact or see one of the teachers listed below, and we will fill out a scholarship form so that you may receive a book.
  2. As you read The Alchemist, you must annotate the text. This means that as you read, every time you find something as “noteworthy,” you must write in the margins or on a post-it note why you are highlighting or underlining that sentence, paragraph, passage, etc.
    1. Please annotate for the following:
      1. Track Santiago’s physical and mental journey.
        • This simply means to follow and take note of whom he meets and what he learns.
      2. Track quotations for the “Quotation Identification Assignment” (see #3 below).
      3. Note and define unknown vocabulary words.
  3. After you finish reading/annotating The Alchemist, complete the following two assignments. Note: Please complete these two assignments in one double-spaced document using Times New Roman, 12-point font. Be prepared to submit it to Turnitin (plagiarism website) on the first day of class.
    1. Quotation Identification Assignment:
      1. Type up a list of five quotations from The Alchemist that illuminate the meaning(s) of the novel to you.
        1. For each quotation, make sure it is typed verbatim and uses MLA citations.
        2. For each quotation, please include at least three sentences that explain the meaning it illuminates.
      2. Type up another list of five quotations that mean something to you personally (i.e. sentences that stand out to you, make you stop and think, connect to you, etc.).
        • After you type the comprehensive list, select one of the listed quotations and write one paragraph that explains its personal meaning to you.
    2. Allegory Analysis Assignment
      1. Since The Alchemist is an allegory, please research and define allegory at the top of a clean Google Docs/Microsoft Word page (one without any writing on it).
      2. Using your definition, explain in one paragraph how The Alchemist is allegorical.
        • Use the following rubric to assist you in constructing this paragraph:
          Paragraph Rubric (what we will use to assess your allegory paragraph)

          5 = nuanced and fluent
          3 = competent and correct
          1 = inadequate

          ___ topic sentence that points to your claim
          ___ quotations from The Alchemest
          ___ correct MLA citations
          ___ clear and specific support that expands upon your initial claim
          ___ concluding sentence that refers to your paragraph’s claim
          ___ formal English grammar and conventions used
  4. Finally, be prepared to hand in your copy of The Alchemist and paper copies of the two assignments at the beginning of class on the first day of school.
    • It is important to note that after a week of class discussions, you will be expected to take the summative assessment for the unit. This assessment will contain vocabulary-related questions, passage analyses, and a written component.