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AP Literature Summer Reading

Del Valle ISD AP

Literature and Composition Novel List and Summer Assignment 2022

One of the goals of the AP Literature and Composition course is to expand the depth and breadth of our student’s knowledge of great works of literature. It is important for every child to experience a wide range of literary genres, themes, and literary styles in order to be a well-rounded individual in today’s society, not to mention successful in college. It is also something that every AP Literature and Composition student is tested on. The College Board has always included an essay question on the AP Literature and Composition Exam that requires students to write about some abstract or metacognitive topic regarding storytelling in general, and to support their answer with specific information from a work of literary merit they have read. Therefore, at Del Valle High School students taking the AP Literature and Composition course will be required to read a combination of four to six novels or plays over the course of the year. For this first novel assignment, students are allowed to choose the novel they will read from a list of novels selected by their instructor. Below you will find the list for the summer reading assignment. It is required that all students read one of the books listed below, and complete the summer reading assignment that goes along with it. Several of the assignments during the first six weeks of school will be based on what the student read over the summer.

The due date for the summer reading assignment for AP Literature and Composition is August 18, 2022.


1. Please select one of the following novels to read over the summer. These books come from the list of novels given to teachers and administrators from College Board. They have been chosen for their literary merit and to help students become widely read in preparation for the Advanced Placement Exam. All have appeared at one time or another on the exam.

All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

The Nickle Boys by Colson Whitehead Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko


Many of the titles listed above deal with mature and/or controversial subject matter. Parents and students will want to preview their potential book choice prior to reading and discuss if the book is the “right fit” for the student. One quick way to preview the subject matter is to read reviews from online sites like Barnes & Noble, Amazon, or


Where might I find these books?

If possible, students should purchase their own copies of the novel. It is an advantage to be able to take notes in the margins and underline or highlight notable passages. You may buy these books cheaply online and find copies at our local bookstores.

You may also check out your chosen works from the public library; however, you would not be able to take notes in the text itself.

2. While reading the selected novel during the summer, students are highly encouraged to annotate (highlight and make notes in the margins) the text. What kinds of things should you annotate?

  • words and phrases that stand out to you
  • important scenes or key sections of dialogue
  • character descriptions, motivations, and flaws 
  • key decisions characters make 
  • sections that are confusing for you 
  • questions that pop into your head as you are reading 
  • inferences you make while reading 
  • connections you make to other texts, films, t.v. shows 
  • connections you make to your personal life 
  • symbols, themes, topics 
  • literary devices (flashbacks, foreshadowing, sub-plots) used 
  • figurative language (allusions, alliteration, metaphors, similes, etc.) used effectively

3. While reading the selected novel during the summer, students are expected to find and label/sticky note at least 30 quotations/excerpts from the novel to be used during discussions and assignments beginning the first day of school and throughout the first weeks of class. Below are several suggestions to help you guide your choices (a more detailed look at these on page 4):

Elements of Fiction


Character motivation

Character flaws


Important scenes/plot points



Author's Craft

Explodes a moment

Creates a snapshot




Dream sequence


Figurative Language

Metaphor / Simile


Asyndeton / Polysyndeton




Alliteration for effect

Repetition for effect


4. Don’t wait until the week before school begins to try and read your selected novel and find/label your quotations/excerpts. Unexpected events may pop up that could get in the way of you completing your work on time. Make a plan for the number of pages or chapters you are going to read per week and stick to it. The same goes for finding your quotations/excerpts. Work on it while you are reading. Do not wait until you are finished with the novel.

5. Trust in your own ability to discern and understand what is going on in the text. Only then should you clutter your thoughts with another writer’s interpretation or ideas. You will have far more original ideas than Cliff’s Notes, Sparknotes, or any of the other “study guides.” It is in your best interest to actually read the novel because you will use the novel you chose to read to do multiple assignments during the first six weeks.

What am I looking for?

As you read, look for several quotations/excerpts from the beginning, middle, and end of the novel that represent each of the categories. Remember, you will be expected to explain and comment on the meaning not simply a repetition/summary of what you read. Students will likely be much more successful if they have chosen a vast array of quotations/excerpts.

  • Form, Structure, and Plot: What is happening? Choose quotations/excerpts on the chronology of the plot: opening situation, complicating incident(s), main events in the rising action, climax, outcome (denouement). How much time is covered? If the action is framed as a flashback, explain. Choose quotations/excerpts involved in form, such as dream sequences, stream of consciousness narrative, parallel events, significant patterns of foreshadowing, anything else interesting.
  • Character: Choose quotations/excerpts about central characters: personality, function in novel, motivations, flaws.
  • Setting: Choose quotations/excerpts that show where (continent, region, state, house, room?) and when (year, month, time of day?) the novel occurs. Choose quotations/excerpts that show how the setting affects the plot or ideas of the novel. What atmosphere is created by the setting? 
  • Themes: Choose quotations/excerpts that identify major themes in the novel. What moral and ethical questions are being explored in the novel, and how are they resolved? What is the author saying about life, about mankind, about nature? What’s the big lesson we’re to learn? 
  • Imagery: Choose quotations/excerpts that appeal to one or more of the five senses. What is the effect? Look also for recurring images or motifs (light/darkness, colors, clothing, odors, sounds, whatever). How are these motifs or images used? 
  • Symbolism: Choose quotations/excerpts that use an image used to suggest complex or multiple meanings. When something is used metaphorically, like using a conch shell to represent authority, it becomes a symbol. Choose quotations/excerpts in the novel that use symbols. What is the effect of the symbol? Are there patterns? Do these symbols advance one or more themes?
  • Figurative Language: Choose quotations/excerpts to identify effective examples of these devices: metaphors, similes, personification, and/or allusion. An allusion is a reference to someone or something known from history, literature, religion, politics, sports, science or some other branch of culture. The title of Sandra Cisneros’s essay “Straw into Gold” is an allusion to the folk tale about Rumplestiltskin. Comment on effectiveness.

If you have questions regarding the summer reading assignment and what is expected of you, please contact me by email. I try to check my email once a week, but bear in mind that it is my summer too and I will be going on vacation at some point. Therefore, depending on when you ask your question I may not respond for several days or weeks.

Have a good summer!

Shawn Hollis