• AP Literature & Composition Summer Assignment

    Spring Mills High School

    Mrs. Karla Hilliard: khilliard@k12.wv.us




    Dear Future AP Lit Students,


                If you’re reading this letter it’s because you’ve signed up for an exciting, challenging, intellectually demanding course—Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition, a course that requires a strong, get-your-hands-dirty work ethic. The workload of AP Lit can be challenging. But more important, the work you do will be rewarding.

    If you can commit to challenging reading and reading deadlines, are interested in exploring your writerly voice, are willing to participate meaningfully in a classroom community, and you have an eager and curious mind (and I know you do or you wouldn’t be here reading this), this course will help you develop skills that will, I hope, help you become better, more attentive readers; authentic and sophisticated writers; and people who understand a little more about what it means to be human.

    Through the study of literature, poetry, and professional writing, we will develop practical, effective strategies for reading deeply and making meaning, and producing clear, elegant, and creative written responses to literature.

    This course provides you an opportunity to grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally. It is up to you to seize it. 

                So, you should not take this course to inflate your grade or because you've always taken advanced classes, if you detest reading, if you refuse to meaningfully participate in conversations or a learning community, or because you’ve heard it’s fun. (I am flattered by the latter, but to do AP Lit well and not detract from others’ learning, you must be willing to put in the work.)

    You should take AP Lit if you want to be amazed, inspired, awestruck, gobsmacked, and bowled over by great, oftentimes beautiful, sometimes confusing, always somehow demanding works of literature and poetry. My job is to make you better, stronger, and even more capable readers, writers, and thinkers than you already are.

                With that said, you have a summer assignment to jumpstart our year together that begins officially in August. I can’t wait to see what and how you think.


    Have a great summer & go get your hands dirty,


    Mrs. Hilliard




    To borrow from my friend Susan Barber, here are my thoughts on summer work.


    I want it to be meaningful, enjoyable, and reasonable and don’t want to overload you with tedious assignments just to “set the tone” for the class. The goals for summer work in AP Lit are to continue to move forward in reading and writing, introduce you to works of merit, learn how evaluate a text, and get to know you and how you think. I think this is the right balance of those goals and work.


    Here’s what you should do before the first day of school...





    ●      Watch How I Take notes (neat and effective) studytee & 10 Note Taking Tips studytee (you’ll need to apply these tips later)

    ●      Get a notebook of your choice with the style of paper that you prefer (lined, graph, blank, bullet point, etc.). We will use this notebook to create notes for the major works that we study, so find one that you really like.


    Why it is important: The process of learning something often starts out feeling disorganized and unwieldy; the most important aspects are not always salient. Consolidation helps organize and solidify learning. This notebook will serve as a means to consolidate what you have learned throughout the year, allowing you to retrieve the significant progress we make. Make it your own. Decorate it if you like or keep it clean and clear.





    1. Read Shepherd University Appalachian Writer in Residence Crystal Wilkinson’s Water Street.
    2. Read José Olivarez’s collection Citizen Illegal.
    3. Read any novel on the National Book Award list or the list of Pulitzer Prize winners for FICTION from the past 20 years. You can click on the titles to learn a bit more about each book. It is worth your time. There are so many great books on these two lists to choose from and I want you to pick a book that you will enjoy.

    Why it is important: Real writers can make writing...real. Having access to living writers can be paramount in a student’s exploration of language and literature. This year, you will connect in person with both Crystal Wilkinson and José Olivarez, so reading and responding to these writers’ works will open the door for meaningful conversation and learning that exists in a space beyond any textbook.





    For each text, create 2 pages of notes.


    How you organize the notes is up to you. I know that this is vague and undefined, but look at it another way. I am empowering you to do what you feel is right. You have the freedom to do what you want. You can create whatever you want. All I’m asking you to do is create 2 interesting pages of notes about your reading experience of each text. When there are little to no rules, the possibilities are endless. It is up to you to make it awesome!


    Why it is important: A mature thinker chooses and develops his or her own criteria in order to evaluate the quality of texts. I respect your ability to make connections to other texts, ideas, cultural perspectives, eras, and personal experiences and when you have control over how you do that, you often exceed my expectations. So do it.




     ** Digital access to this assignment is available on the Spring Mills High School home page and www.hilliardsclass.com with clickable links.