Upper School Summer Reading and Writing

We require students to do summer reading to help them maintain their reading skills over the summer, engage their imaginations, and provide a common learning experience for students in the opening days of school. Additionally, the required texts for each grade are linked thematically to the courses and help students and teachers establish a conceptual framework for the school year. At every grade level, students will read; see below for details.

Upper School Read

Upper School Read: No Barriers.

Ninth Grade

Tenth Grade

Eleventh Grade

Twelfth Grade 

Ninth Grade

You are required to read two books:

  1. Upper School Read: No Barriers

  2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

    • You will take a 40-minute reading test on this book, including 25 factual/objective questions and a few quotes to identify, explain, and analyze.  The test will include questions from the beginning, middle, and end of each book and is designed to reveal the extent to which you read, understood, and remember the basics of plot and character..

    • To prepare for the test, read with a pen in hand and underline and annotate passages with key characters and events.  (Because you are taking the test as soon as we return to school and you do not want to forget the important details, you might consider reading these books in August.)  Regardless of when you read, however, review your notes before the assessment in September.

Tenth Grade

You are required to read two books:

  1. Upper School Read: No Barriers
     
  2. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
  • You will take a test on on this novel, and you should expect to discuss it and write about it during the first weeks of school. It is recommended that you annotate the novel, including notes on each chapter.

Eleventh Grade

English XI
US History
English XI
AP US History
AP English 
US History
AP English
AP US History
American
Studies

US Read

Hillbilly Elegy

 

US Read

Hillbilly Elegy

Lies My Teacher Told Me

Exploring American Histories (textbook)

US Read

Hillbilly Elegy

The Grapes of Wrath 

 

US Read

Hillbilly Elegy

The Grapes of Wrath

Lies My Teacher Told Me

Exploring American Histories (textbook)

US Read

Disgruntled

Difficult Conversations 

English XI Students

You are required to read two books:

1. Upper School Read: No Barriers

2. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

  1. Read/annotate Hillbilly Elegy. Pay particular attention to how Vance portrays his family, his mentors/helpers, his culture, and his own career path.
  2. Then, listen to this interview with Vance and take notes in a Google Doc about how it adds to your understanding of the book. How does Vance describe his evolving understanding of the American Dream and his ability to access it?
  3. Finally, print and read one of the following articles about Hillbilly Elegy.  Take notes on how the writer praises and/or criticizes Hillbilly and/or Vance; be prepared to share with your teacher and class the writer’s perspective--as well as how it does or does not align with your own perspective of Hillbilly.     Response to Hillbilly Elegy 
    For Appalachia’s hillbillies, more than an elegy 
    An article of your choosing (bring printed copy to class) 
  4. For the first day of class, you must bring your annotated text and your printed article (step 3). You must also be ready to submit your interview notes (step 2) electronically.
American Studies Students

You are required to read three books:

1. Upper School Read: No Barriers

2. Disgruntled: A Novel by Asali Solomon

3. Part of Difficult Conversations

American Studies details here.

AP English Students

You are required to read three books:

1. Upper School Read: No Barriers

2. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

3. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

Begin by reading The Grapes of Wrath, paying particular attention to the stereotypes of migrant farmers. Question why these stereotypes were created and how they maintain the social hierarchy and established norms. How is the force of capitalism described in the novel? Note the images and symbols associated with the migrants and those used to describe characters with power. Also, record when characters reflect individualist perspectives versus when they exhibit a collective mentality. When you read Hillbilly Elegy, consider the same questions: Have the stereotypes changed?  Have the motives behind the stereotypes changed?  How is capitalism represented in a non-fiction text written 78 years after Steinbeck’s novel? Note how the individuals whom Vance describes reflect individualistic qualities versus a communal spirit or actions.

AP U.S. History Students

You are required to read:

1. Upper School Read: No Barriers

2. Chapters from Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong by James Loewen

3. Chapters from Exploring American Histories (textbook)

 

Your assignment will consist of two parts: reading a portion of the book Lies My Teacher Told Me and completing the first two chapters of reading in the text.  This serves two purposes:  It sets the foundation for the course discussions, and it gives you a sense of the typical night’s homework in APUSH.


PART I:  Lies my Teacher Told Me
Read the Introduction and Chapters 1-7.  Be sure to take notes! Think about the following ideas as you read:

We will begin our study of American history talking about history in a few different ways:

  • History is more than a collection of names, dates, and facts.
  • History is a conversation between the past and the present.  That is:  We understand the past through our current times.
  • A historian’s life and times may influence their understanding of past events, which means our collective understanding of history has changed over time.

You will use these notes to write an in-class essay when we return to school in the fall.

PART II:  Text reading
Read Chapters 1 & 2 in Exploring American Histories. Don’t neglect the primary sources!
Take notes!
Note:  Your typical reading assignment will be several questions based on 10-20 pages of reading.

Then, answer the following questions:
p. 3-19:  

  • Pick out the two most significant changes in Europe that led to the encounter with North America after the Renaissance.  What were they and why did you choose them?
  • What dynamics led to the eventual development of race-based slavery?  Why do you say that?

p. 20-25:

  • Who were the winners and losers in the Columbian Exchange?  Why do you say that?
  • Was European dominance of North America inevitable?  Why or why not?
  • Compare and contrast our text with Loewen's treatment of this period.  What do you notice?

p. 37-49:

  • Who was  more likely to have success building colonies in North America?  Why?
  • What class and racial conflicts emerged during this time?  Where do you see these dynamics today?

p. 49-55:

  • How did Puritans treat dissenters?  What are some examples.  What does this say about the New England colonies as compared to others?
  • What did "freedom" mean to Puritans?  How is that different from what you've previously understood?

What led to conflicts with Native Americans?  How do our textbook and Loewen compare on this period of history?  What does the disagreement about English voices in this period say to you about this period?

Twelfth Grade

Students in English XII,  you are required to read two books and, where stipulated, write:

1. Upper School Read: No Barriers

2. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

  • You will take a short, fact-based reading test on the book; the test may include 25 factual/objective questions and several quotes you must identify, explain, and analyze.  

    • To prepare for the test, read with a pen in hand; as you read, underline and annotate key passages, ideas, and character developments.  Review your notes before the assessment in September.

  • Additionally, you will discuss this book in class, and you will write an essay about it.

  • To prepare for discussion and the essay, select one of the following ideas below and track it as you read.  In doing so, collect (and type up) two quotations per major character – Henry, Mike, Pella, Owen, Guert (10 quotations total that will be collected the first day of class) – that relate to your chosen idea:  

    • the good life/meaning of life

    • relationships: friendship/platonic/love/lust

    • the pursuit of perfection

    • to what extent does each character’s definition of what’s important/success change?

    • the individual quest for truth or happiness

    • the idea of “thoughtless being”

    • what do we owe ourselves and what do we owe other people?

    • the outward self/inward self and seems vs. is


Students in
Advanced English XII, you are required to read four books and, where stipulated, write:

1. Upper School Read: No Barriers

2. Camus, The Stranger [ISBN: 9780679720201]

3. Kafka, The Metamorphosis [ISBN: 0553213695]

4. Sartre, No Exit [ISBN: 9780679725169]

Please note the ISBN numbers and get the correct versions; this is important as these are works in translation. 

As you read, be sure to annotate your texts carefully, as you will be assessed on your textual notes.  In addition to your standard annotations, be sure to track the following in detail:

  • Questioning existence
  • Time
  • The individual vs being part of a whole of humanity
  • Importance of setting
  • Notions of regret and remorse

 

 

Penn Charter

A Friends School for Girls and Boys, Pre-K to 12

3000 West School House Lane Philadelphia, PA 19144 215.844.3460
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