Honors AR Options

Here are links to information about the AR books honors students should choose from for their next reading assignment:

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway (10th grade only)

Vanity Fair by William M. Thackeray (12th grade only)

Please note that these links take you to Amazon.com not because I expect you to purchase the books, but rather because it is a good quick resource for reviews (scroll down to find them) and excerpts of the books.

My students in Regular English are of course encouraged to read these books also, however they are not required to do so.

A book for today


I was introduced to this book about a year and a half ago, when I was getting ready to volunteer at a school in Turkey for ten days.  I usually remain mum about the significance of today’s date unless a student brings it up in a class, but today I will say this: Americans should read Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It’s simply written and therefore easy to read, but conveys in no uncertain terms that education is key to understanding and preventing violence. 

Please, read this book. Even if you aren’t interested in world politics or education, there is much more in it, too — mountain climbing, world travel, construction, family issues… just about anyone can find some connection to it.

Happy Summer…

I hope all of you are having an enjoyable summer, and completing your mandatory summer reading assignments (hint hint). If you are unsure of the assignment for your particular English class, click the “Summer Reading” icon (it’s a cartoonish sunshine and a red book) on the right side of the school district’s website.  If you have questions, please get in touch. 

In other news: this article from today’s New York Times is a very worthwhile read, so I recommend taking a peek when you have a chance. This has been a big topic of discussion in professional circles of teachers and librarians for some time, and I was very pleased to see that it has entered a more widespread public dialogue. I’ll be interested to hear what you think about this when we return to school! Talk to your parents about it to hear their perspective, too. It might turn into an interesting conversation.

Recommended Summer Reading

* Please note, this is NOT the REQUIRED summer reading that everyone will be doing this summer. More on that later…

Third Period:

The nonfiction books mentioned in class today were Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and Wild Mind, Stephen King’s On Writing, and Thomas C. Foster’s How to Read Literature Like a Professor.

Fiction recommendations from your peers during the last few minutes of class were A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hossieni, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, the Twilight trilogy by Stephenie Meyer, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. I’ve read all but the first, and must say that they’re all extremely enjoyable reads.

Please feel free to comment on this post with more recommendations and/or thoughts about any of these books!

Before I close for the evening, I must also recommend a fantastic writing-and-reading-related MOVIE to watch over the summer — Stranger than Fiction. Trust me, it’s wonderful.

A Separate Peace link

Sophomores, here is the link mentioned in class: Philips Exeter A Separate Peace site.It is maintained by the actual prep school author John Knowles attended in his youth. When you arrive at the site, there will be several red squares above a photo of Knowles. Please click on the one that says “Photo Essay” and view the entire slide show — be sure to read the commentary and novel excerpts. You are expected to have done this by Monday, 4/7. Happy reading! 

CVCC Students – Update – Real World English Assignment

Today we worked in class on “reading the fine print” of credit card agreements and solicitations. I have copies of the assignments for each of you, and you should pick them up tomorrow. They are due (for you) on Friday of this week – please don’t let your make-up work build up. You should get started by watching this video clip that will make you understand WHY it is important to read anything before you sign it (when we have a Real World English quiz, the material in clip WILL be included).   

Seniors – Resources for your third AR book

On Tuesday, February 5th you will be assigned supplementary readings (to be read by Tuesday, February 12th) that relate to your third AR book. Please use the following list to access the readings:

If you are reading PERSEPOLIS, click here.

If you are reading THE KITE RUNNER, click here.

If you are reading FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER, click here.

Please click here if you are reading PALESTINE.

Here is your link if you are reading A LONG WAY GONE.

Once you get there, follow the directions given in class on 2/5. Please feel free to go beyond the requirements and explore the sites further! There will be more supplemental readings over the next few weeks; if you come across something interesting that you’d like to share with your group please post a link to it in a comment or just print it out and bring it to class.

Remember, each Tuesday in February you will need to bring your book to help you complete an activity related to it.

The Golden Compass

About two years ago, I started reading Phillip Pullman’s book The Golden Compass after several people (colleagues AND students) recommended it. I enjoyed the first chapter or so, but then got caught up in other reading and research that had to be done. When I learned a few months ago that a movie version was being prduced, I dove back into it to finish. I’m almost to the end, and I must say it is a beautiful book. The symbolism in it alone is breathtaking. The setting is used exquisitely as more than just a backdrop for the plot — it seems to take on a life of its own. I’ll leave out details so that I don’t spoil the story for anyone, but I did want to at least quickly recommend it.
I understand that lately there has been some controversy over this piece of literature, and I’m glad that 3rd period has been able to use Fahrenheit 451 and some of Ray Bradbury’s other writings as a springboard to discuss how important it is that we keep an open dialogue going about such things. This is an amazing and diverse world we live in, and controversies are a natural part of it. As our beloved protagonist Guy Montag says, “We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while.


My apoligies for such a long absence — I was having a little trouble getting links to post on the site from here (school), but I think that my schedule will calm down again in a week or two so I will have time to post new scholarship and writing contest information from home.

So, to make up for weeks of no quotes, here are a few:

” Without words, without writing and without books there would be no history; there could be no concept of humanity.” – Herman Hesse

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” – C.S. Lewis

“Books tap the wisdom of our species — the greatest minds, the best teachers — from all ver the world and from all our history. And they’re patient.” – Carl Sagan

Quotes (and such) of the week

This week I’m posting a double dose of quotes, words, and book openers. Enjoy.

BOOK OPENER #1: “No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.”

War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (which, by the way, can be read for AR!)

BOOK OPENER #2:  “First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross carried letters from a girl named Martha, a junior at Mount Sebastian College in New Jersey.”

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (also an AR book)

WORD #1: virulent

WORD #2: loquatious

QUOTE #1: “The question of literature, I suppose, is whether we ourselves live more intensely for the reading of it.” – Elizabeth Drew

QUOTE #2: (the following quote is from the 1980 documentary AC/DC: Let There Be Rock)

Interviewer:  Do you think there will be a third world war?

Angus Young: I am the third world war.