As a student enrolled in an Honors-level English class, you will be expected to do some reading over the summer. Don’t use Cliff’s Notes or SparkNotes or any such thing. Just read the books and respond to them according to your own understanding. You will read a novel AND a biography.
A Self-Selected Novel: It is our deeply held belief that academic and personal advancement through reading is to be encouraged throughout the calendar year, not just the school year. As in the past, all credit earning English I students will select and read a novel of their own choosing. Unlike in the past, however, students are free to choose any age appropriate work they wish (previously, we have required students to read from the Junior Book Award List). English One students are encouraged to choose a book that is not only thematically appealing but challenging as well. Students are encouraged to involve their parents with the selection of the book and discuss it with them throughout their reading. (Try asking parents and teachers what their favorite books were/are as 8th graders!) Students will be required to complete a book review (format attached) for their selection displaying their understanding of the deeper themes of the book and its place within the broader literary canon.
THE BIOGRAPHY OR AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Plan on being given a writing assignment or other task about this book, after the first two weeks or so of school this fall.
Although it may be tempting to read a short, easy book about somebody like a pro athlete or rock star that you like, these choices will not accomplish the same as better, more serious books. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be boring! There are many excellent, fascinating, exciting, inspiring, or beautiful books about all kinds of interesting people. You may not even know who the person is before reading the book; you may be surprised. Try an athlete or entertainer from the past, or try reading about someone you’ve heard of but never knew much about, or try a person whose life is the most different from yours. While the books don’t have to be long or difficult, there should be some lower limit: choose a book that is not written obviously for kids and is at least about 150 pages. Biographies and autobiographies are usually shelved together in the library, and organized by the last name of the person they’re about.
Make a chart for your biography. This chart may end up being used throughout the course when studying other texts. You may use notebook paper & pencil, or you may type it or use your iPad—whatever is most convenient for you. Just be sure it is your own work.
As you read your biography and prepare your chart you should take notes using Cornell notes or a similar two-column format:
On the left write down specific quotes, images, turning points from his/her life, etc., from the book, along with the page number; on the right write down your response to each of those items—perhaps a question (“Why did she do that? Doesn’t she know who he is?”), perhaps a statement of your understanding (“I’m confused; I thought she despised him.”), perhaps a prediction (“I bet she is going to react violently to that!”), perhaps an insight about the person (“It really wasn’t her fault; he overreacted.”), or even a comment about the author’s style (“What a beautiful image!”).
You may not necessarily include every one of these things. You must include some instances & comments about historical facts you are learning. These facts should help establish the historical context of your figure (the world he/she inhabited) including, but not limited to: where, when and the subject’s place in that world. The chard should also include any major accomplishments or defeats suffered by the subject and how such affected his/her larger life. The chart should have at least one entry per chapter, but no fewer than 10 entries total.