AP Language and Composition Summer Reading Project 2019


STEP 1: Read the Citizenship Rights & Responsibilities of Citizens of the United States

This year in AP English Language, we will be exploring a central question across all of our texts—“What does it mean to be an American Citizen in the 21st century?”

The goal of this course is threefold. First, we will aim to develop a nuanced and informed view on what it means to be an American Citizen in the 21st century. Second, we will examine and analyze the ways in which rhetoric informs and structures ALL of the texts that we read. Third, we will utilize our new rhetorical knowledge to compose texts that are well-argued and stylistically appropriate for their intended audience.

To guide us through our explorations, we will use the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s “Citizenship Rights and Responsibilities” as our signpost. It is linked HERE. Please read this short document before choosing your summer reading texts.


STEP 2: Select 2 Non-Fiction Books

Each student will choose two non-fiction books from the provided list. One must be a MEMOIR. The other must be a work of GENERAL NONFICTION. Each category of the general nonfiction book list corresponds to a particular civic responsibility as defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. The AP Language and Composition class focuses on the reading of a variety of texts and facilitates informed citizenship, thus increasing students' capacity to enter into consequential conversations with others about meaningful issues.

In addition to taking note of the basic literary conventions of the text, students will also be focusing on the rhetorical devices used within the text, the author's purpose, and the effect on the reader. To aid you in this pursuit, you will use the “AP Language and Composition Major Works Data Sheet” (available by email or on the Curley AP English website) which will guide you through considering the text in an appropriate manner. The following list of books comes from reading lists devised by AP instructors and the College Board. Almost all are Pulitzer, National Book Award, or PEN Award nominees or recipients.



(Limit 5 students per book)     

Alexie, Sherman – You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me (464 pages)

Angelou, Maya – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (304 pages)

Arana, Marie – American Chica (309 pages)

Bulosan, Carlos – America is in the Heart (368 pages)

Grande, Reyna – The Distance Between Us (352 pages)

Harjo, Joy – Crazy Brave (176 pages)

Hong Kingston, Maxine – The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (209 pg)

Moore, Wes – The Other Wes Moore (250 pages)

Walls, Jeannette – The Glass Castle (288 pages)

Wolff, Tobias – This Boy’s Life (304 pages)

General Nonfiction

(Limit 4 students per book)

Nature – “Stay informed of the issues affecting your community.”

Bryson, Bill – A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (305 pgs.)

Carson, Rachel – Silent Spring (400 pages)

Griswold, Eliza – Amity and Prosperity: One Family and the Fracturing of America (336 pages)

Kolbert, Elizabeth – The Sixth Extinction (336 pages)

Schlosser, Eric – Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (384 pages)


Justice/Law – “Respect and obey federal, state, and local laws.”

Alexander, Michelle – The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (336 pages)

Krakauer, Jon – Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town (416 pages)

Rothstein, Richard – The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (368 pages)

Stevenson, Bryan – Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (368 pages)

Tolerance – “Respect the rights, beliefs, and opinions of others.”

Cain, Susan – Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking (368 pages)

Ehrenreich, Barbara – Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (256 pages)

Powers, Ron – No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America (384 pages)

Urrea, Luis Alberto – The Devil’s Highway: A True Story (272 pages)


Defense – “Defend the country if the need should arise.”

FitzGerald, Frances — Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam (496 pages)

Krakauer, Jon – Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman (480 pages)

McElya, Micki – The Politics of Mourning: Death and Honor in Arlington National Cemetery (416 pages)

Terkel, Studs — The Good War: An Oral History of World War II (600 pages)

STEP 3: Define Rhetorical Terms

You are responsible for defining the following terms before the start of school. Within the first 5 weeks of class you will be tested, in a multiple choice style test, on the terms. You will need to be able to define them and recognize examples of them in literature.  These terms will also help you in understanding your chosen summer texts and in the completion of your data sheets. The terms have been provided in case you would like to make flashcards before the start of the school year! 




Aristotelian Appeals



Compare and Contrast




Deductive Reasoning





Figurative Language





Inductive Reasoning










Rhetorical Triangle










Works of non-fiction, whether implicitly or explicitly, present an argument to the reader and support this argument with different types of evidence and rhetorical techniques. For your summer writing assignment, you will create ONE essay in which you rhetorically analyze the argument of the GENERAL NONFICTION book that you read.

Briefly identify the text’s central argument, then, analyze the evidence and techniques (to the best of your ability--I understand you are unfamiliar with most techniques at this point, but do not hesitate to refer to the above vocab list) the authors use to support his or her argument. Finally, in the conclusion, evaluate the argument as a whole. Whether you agree with everything the author says or not is irrelevant; you may comment on it, but I primarily want to know if their argument holds up or falls apart, and if it does, where. Avoid summarizing the texts and focus on analyzing and evaluating the evidence.

To complete your summer-reading project you will write a 750-1000 word MLA-style paper. The format of the paper will proceed as follows:

1.  Briefly identify the central argument of the work.

2.  Analyze both the evidence and techniques the author uses to produce their argument.

3. Evaluate the argument of the text as a whole.

*Avoid plot summary--i.e. do not simply tell me what happened in your book!