AP English Summer Homework

Students must read all FOUR selections before class convenes in the fall and meet the turn-in deadlines below.

Please read your books in the prescribed order. These required readings will provide the basis for discussion, group work, and presentations. They will also serve as part of the basis for your first major essay in ATYP AP English, so please read carefully and be sure to refresh and reacquaint yourself with the texts before we meet in September, should you finish your reading early in the summer.


  • First reading: Joy Harjo's "Crazy Brave" (memoir) ISBN: 9780393345438 (about $15)
  • Second reading: Lan Cao’s "Monkey Bridge" (novel) ISBN: 9780140263619 (about $17) 
  • Third reading: You may choose between these two selections:
    • Daisy Hernandez’s A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir ISBN: 9780807062920 (About $17) or
    • Akhil Sharma's "Family Life" (semi-autobiographical novel) ISBN: 9780393350609 (about $15)
  • Fourth and final reading: James Baldwin’s short story, “Sonny’s Blues” (free!) 
    • You can find Baldwin’s story online; please print it out so you can highlight, keep notes, underline, etc., and have it ready to bring to class. There are a few sites that have it, so Google it if the link doesn’t work.
    • If you prefer to purchase the text that contains the short story, the title is "Going to Meet the Man" (short story collection) ISBN: 9780679761792 (about $16)

*NOTE: Zhang Scholarship recipients can have summer reading novels purchased for them. The ATYP office will send an email regarding obtaining the books. If you are not a scholarship recipient but purchasing the texts is a hardship, please contact the ATYP office. We will help!


Two Steps (annotations and writing reflections)

    1. Annotation, aka: Write in your book! 
      1. Page synopsis: Write minimally at the top of nearly ever page (or every third page, or so) summarizing the events of the page. Write what’s happening, the characters present, and any other brief detail that will help you quickly orient yourself within the novel when you flip through and reference later. This will come in extraordinarily handy for our discussions and the critical work you will perform on these novels.
      2. Underline key passages/lines. How will you decide what to underline? Consider passages that seem to sum up/epitomize core themes, central conflicts or tensions, or are particularly indicative of certain characters. Put your brain in critical observation mode: what might you want to easily find and quote later?
      3. Write down questions in the margins—as well as any connections to other texts/current events/etc. that you notice.
      4. On the first day of class, I will flip through each of your novels and check your annotations. Put ink on those pages! It should go without saying that you will do this FIRST, before tackling the written reflection below.
      5. If you have an eBook or some other form of the book that you are unable to annotate physically (library book, etc.), you will still need to complete the above work to the best of your ability, which may involve a separate and detailed notes page or digital annotations that you will show me in class.
    2. Writing Reflection: Locate THREE moments in each of the FOUR readings and craft TWO paragraphs about each moment. 
  • First, discuss why the passage is significant to the story as a whole; does it play a significant role in the events of the novel, representing some kind of turning point or dramatic action? Does it provide a good example of the work’s voice, structure, themes, etc.? (Hint: it’s not always about plot, you know!) And… I would like to see the rhetorical or literary devices that you can identify in the passage, as well. MS. Carr, Ms. Citino, Dr. Ernst, and Ms. Dekker-Black want you to show off your chops! Resist copy/pasting from a Google search…I need to see what you can do. ATYP English uses MLA style. Each book quote should be followed by the author’s last name and a page number in parentheses. If you do not copy the entire passage, be sure to include the first sentence so I may find it quickly.
  • Second, address how/why the passage affects you. For this second paragraph, it might help to simply think about the ways in which this passage mirrors your own experiences or observations of the world around you. You can even talk about how the passage broadens your horizons and makes you reconsider previous assumptions. This exploration will provide a helpful reference when you write your first essay in the fall. Show me your thoughtfulness, here. Some students in the past gave me vague writing—please avoid. Show me your thoughtfulness. 
  • To avoid confusion: This means SIX paragraphs per reading—so you will have 24 paragraphs between the four readings, altogether.
  • With the written reflection, make sure to vary your responses! No boilerplate, copy & paste answers here — give each novel special care and attention. Find the novel’s unique voice and architecture, then explore on its own terms.
  • Format each of your four documents in 12pt Times New Roman font, 1.5 spacing, 1-inch margins, with your name, my name, and the assignment title in your header.

Due Dates: email each portion to me (becky.cooper@wmich.edu) by the following dates:

    • Selection one, "Crazy Brave" by 10 p.m. June 30th
    • Selection two, "Monkey Bridge" by 10 p.m. July 30th
    • Selection three, "A Cup of Water" or "Family Life" (your choice) by 10 p.m. August 30th
    • Please save “Sonny’s Blues” for last. Email this selection to me by 8 p.m. (get some sleep) the day before our first class meets


      • I staggered the turn-in dates to help you stay on track in order to avoid a last-minute rush before school starts. 
      • Parents should be aware that the texts may contain mature content. ATYP faculty agree that our students entering the third year of ATYP in a college-readiness course are ready for this content. ATYP faculty are trained in facilitating productive conversations on potentially difficult topics. We also encourage students to discuss what they’re reading with their parents. To review the books, we suggest looking for the titles on goodreads.com or commonsensemedia.org.

    Advice from previous students: “The reading was fun—hardly like work at all, but do not wait too long before getting started!” 

    In the spirit of supporting local business…Please consider purchasing your texts from a local store! We will give our titles to This is a bookstore/Bookbug and Kazoo Books so they can help you. P.S. It’s absolutely OK to purchase used copies—but see if you can find copies that don’t have other people’s annotations in them.

    Have a fantastic summer! I’m looking forward to seeing you in September!