Skip to main content

Summer Reading information for AP English Lit. and Composition

Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition


Summer Reading/Writing 2020-2021


Instructor: Mr. Coffee, 


Students registered for the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition course (0329) should receive their Summer Reading task as a shared document via email from Mr. Coffee at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Students enrolled in AP English Lit are typically Seniors; although, it is not required that a student be a Senior to participate in AP English Lit. Students who believe they are improperly registered and should have received a Summer assignment should partake in the task and contact their counselors immediately in August 2020. 


N.B. The AP English Lit Course Description published by College Board (Effective Fall 2014) indicates that students enrolling in this course “should read widely and reflect on their reading through extensive discussion, writing and rewriting . . . [and] should assume considerable responsibility for the amount of reading and writing they do.” Additionally, this course seeks to engage “students in the careful reading and critical analysis of imaginative literature. Through the close reading of selected texts, students deepen their understanding of the ways writers use language to provide both meaning and pleasure for their readers. As they read, students consider a work’s structure, style, and themes as well as such smaller-scale elements as the use of figurative language, imagery, symbolism, and tone.” – Any reading students do this summer should be done with this in mind. 


The AP English Literature Course and Exam Description published by College Board (Effective Fall 2019) establishes that: Over the course of their literature studies in secondary school, and by the end of their AP English Literature and Composition class, students should have studied a variety of texts by diverse authors from a variety of time periods ranging from the English Renaissance to the present. However, students may not be prepared to read and analyze the most challenging literature from the very beginning of the course because students have not yet developed proficiency in the content and skills necessary to engage such literary works. The texts that students read should accommodate their current reading skill proficiency but also appropriately challenge them to further develop their reading skills. (117)


It is important to remember as students read this summer and through the coming year: “[T]he universal value of literary art [often] probes difficult and harsh life experiences,” and as a result, “fair representation of issues and peoples may occasionally include controversial material. Since AP students have chosen a program that directly involves them in college-level work, the AP English Literature and Composition Exam depends on a level of maturity consistent with the age of 12th-grade students who have engaged in thoughtful analysis of literary texts. . . AP students should have the maturity, the skill and the will to seek the larger meaning through thoughtful research. Such thoughtfulness is both fair and owed to the art and to the author.” 


Because of the uncertainty of access to libraries, and possible changes to access of bookstores and delivery systems over the summer, students will only be asked to read a single novel or play of their own choosing this year. This piece of imaginative literature, however, should be something that the student has never read before, and it should reflect a piece of literature that the student could reasonably assume would appear on the syllabus of an undergraduate literature course in fiction. 


If students are not sure about what to read, they may email Mr. Coffee, but this is very much a choice assignment this summer, provided it meets the aforementioned guidelines.


Ideally, this will be a text that students can annotate as they read. If they can, then they should. 


Students will be asked about this text in the fall, and they will have tasks to perform with it as we proceed through the first quarter. 


Please share this handout with parents/guardians so that they know our purposes.  If students have any questions at any time, please do not hesitate to contact me at


In AP English Literature, it is important that a student be able to develop an argument about their reading. In this case, an argument is a statement the student can make about the text that then requires evidence from the text in order to be able to support the claim. 


Most of the time, the student needs to be thinking thematically about their texts. 


Remember--when reflecting on the impact of a thematic idea on an interpretation of the work as a whole, to merely state that without that moment or action or character (just for example), the text wouldn’t be the same, one’s reader’s response would then be, “well, duh.” 


The interpretation of the work as a whole is its theme. It is the overarching message about life and/or humanity in general, as stated or implied through the piece of literature. It is not a single word. For instance, Lord of the Flies’ theme is not savagery. Rather, Jack’s hunters’ cruelty in Lord of the Flies reveals that without parents and policemen and neighbors to keep a watchful eye, no matter how civilized we may think ourselves to be, we are not insulated from losing ourselves to temptations.


Again, if students have any questions, they should contact Mr. Coffee at the email provided above.