The following works have been carefully chosen to broaden the literary and cultural worlds of the readers. Writing assignments will be given in September and students will follow the writing process of outline, rough draft, and final draft. The essay assigned will be a four or five paragraph essay, graded according to the State Education Department’s expository writing rubric. The essay must contain specific textual evidence, refer to specific literary elements, include at least two direct quotations from the work read, follow the MLA format for documentation, and include a Works Cited (as well as parenthetical documentation).
Begin by selecting a central idea from the options below to focus your reading selection. After selecting a group from A – D, select one novel in that group. Take notes as you read (see the directions below), when you return to school, you will follow the writing process you have been taught by preparing an outline, a rough draft, and a final draft for one of three essay topics. Specific due dates will be given in September; typically, the final draft is due the third week in September.
Construct Handwritten Notes – NO TYPED NOTES ACCEPTED
- Construct a list of 15-20 new words you come across during your reading. Include definitions and parts of speech.
- Construct a list of 2-5 central themes that are present in the novel
- Write down which pages or chapters you have covered during each reading you conduct, and jot down notes that identify:
A) Important Moments: Note whether anything significant happens.
B) Questions: Write out any question that arise as you read.
C) Connections: If you can connect your reading to any outside stories or history, note that.
Group A: Central Idea – confronting hardships
Little Women by Louis May Alcott. This story tells of the five March sisters’ progress into young womanhood. Set during the Civil War, this is the story of their growing maturity and wisdom and the search for the contentedness of family life. Written in 1867, Little Women is a fictionalized biography of author Alcott and her sisters. It has become a much loved classic tale. While some of its issues seem outdated, many of the trials of the sisters are still relevant today.
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. The classic novel about one Southern woman’s struggles to survive the trials of the Civil War.
Group B: Central Idea – the outcast’s perspective
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer. Matteo Alacran was not born; he was harvested. His DNA came from El Patron, lord of a country called Opium—a strip of poppy fields lying between the United States and what was once called Mexico. Matt’s first cell split and divided inside a Petri dish. He is a boy now, but most consider him a monster—except for El Patron. El Patron loves Matt as he loves himself, because Matt is himself. As Matt struggles to understand his existence, he is threatened by a sinister cast of characters, including El Patron’s power-hungry family, and he is surrounded by a dangerous army of bodyguards. Escape is the only chance Matt has to survive…
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon. Christopher, a 15-year-old autistic boy, discovers the dead body of Wellington, his neighbor’s poodle, speared by a garden fork. Having been blamed for it, he decides to investigate to clear his name. However limited by his own fears and difficulties, Christopher discovers some insights about the world around him. Throughout his adventures, Christopher records his experiences in the form of a book, entitled The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
Group C: Central Idea – the multicultural perspective
The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan. A novel divided into two stories. The first is about Ruth, an American born Chinese woman who begins to realize what her mother’s memory loss means to both of them: for her mother, an increased need for attention, for Ruth, disappearing stories that could help Ruth understand her family and render a feeling that she is part of a larger story. The second major story is that of LuLing, which Ruth discovers in the form of documents LuLing had given her several years earlier, written in Chinese, LuLing’s attempt to hold on to fading memories of her life in China.
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons. The story of a young southern girl who must find a real home for herself after suffering a childhood of neglect and abuse. Eleven-year-old Ellen Foster is an old soul living inside the body of a youngster. She is wise, funny and courageous, taking things as they come; living her life with a remarkable bravery and heroism that is truly unforgettable. Describing herself as “old Ellen” – an appellation which is disturbingly accurate, considering how much Ellen has already gone through in her young life – she tells her own story with a poignancy, an honesty, a perceptivity, and a certain unselfconscious wit that is startling to find in one so young.
Group D: Central Idea – the effects of war
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.A collection of short stories about a platoon of American Soldiers in Vietnam.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. All Quiet on the Western Front is probably the most famous anti-war novel ever written. Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they became soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other—if only he can come out of the war alive.
Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose. East Company, 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army, got the toughest assignments in World War II—from parachuting into France on D-Day to the capture of Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. This is their true story.