Dear Ninth Grade CIC Students,
Congratulations on your acceptance into the CIC magnet at Poly! I am looking forward to meeting you in your English class this September. Your first assignment begins this summer: I would like you to read two short novels, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and The Chosen by Chaim Potok. You may borrow the novels from a library, a friend, or the Poly bookroom (call the school for the summer bookroom hours) or purchase them at a bookstore.
As you read these novels, please record your thoughts using the following guidelines:
1. Write at least five questions that pop into your head as you are reading. Do not write the kind of questions used for a simple quiz like What is the name of the village where Okonkwo lives. Instead write real questions that you have about things you sincerely do not understand or are wondering about, questions that do not have simple answers—in fact, maybe no answers at all.
2. Write at least five other reactions you have as you read. These reactions may be ones of surprise, amusement, disgust, sorrow, or delight, for example. Always explain in detail why you have each reaction.
3. Copy at least five quotations (with the page numbers) of lines or passages you think are important for understanding the novel. In your own words, interpret what you think the quotations mean and how they are important. Pick passages that you understand and will be able to paraphrase without any help from computer sources. Plagiarism is illegal, and I am interested in your thoughts about the novels, not published ones.
Follow these guidelines twice, once for each novel. Your written responses must be typed. It is probably best for you to read the novels towards the end of the summer so that the novels will be fresh in your memory for an objective test the first week of school. After the test, we will discuss the novels in class using your questions, reactions, and quotations.
Some Helpful Reading Hints for Things Fall Apart
-Although it was written in 1958, the novel is set in the late 1800’s in what is now Nigeria (Africa).
-The book’s title comes from part of a poem by William Butler Yeats:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
Think about how the title and poem connect to the action in the novel.
-Consult the glossary at the back of the book for tribal vocabulary.
Some Helpful Reading Hints for The Chosen.
-This story takes place in New York City and spans three time periods: World War II, soon after the end of WWII as the Holocaust is being exposed, and the birth of the modern country of Israel.
Good luck with this summer reading. Read this letter more than once so you are clear about the directions. I hope you enjoy these novels, and I look forward to hearing your opinions and responses to them in the fall.
Ninth grade CIC English teacher