AP English Literature and Composition

AP English Literature and Composition
Summer Reading Assignment:
Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
Mr. Abrams
summer email: ipabrams@cps.edu
(No email: June 28-July 18)
Assignment Checklist:
1. Read Sophie’s World
2. Take notes on every group of chapters either by answering the study guide
questions or using the “summary notes” format that is described below.
3. Answer the 3 “research topic” questions (one page each).
4. Write the final assignment about how reading this book has changed your life.
5. Prepare for the open-book test in September.
While reading Sophie’s World, you need to take notes about the plot and the
philosophy that you learn since you will be given an open-note test on the book in
September. There are two ways you can take notes. I suggest you choose only ONE.
Which style fits you better?
1. Keep notes in the format shown below (see Sophie’s World Note-taking method
#1). Even if you choose this option, you should read over the study questions.
2. Answer the study guide questions below (in a notebook or on separate paper).
Whichever method you choose, keeping good notes will help you to understand and
remember the issues in the book… and you will need to present sections of your notes for
a conference grade at the beginning of the year. You will also have an open-notes test on
the book. The test questions will be based on the study questions. It will test your
knowledge of the important questions asked by each philosopher and the answers they
came up with, as well as how exactly they agreed or disagreed with each other.
How long should your notes be? A sentence or two is usually enough. There are 3
one-page essays on “Research Topics” included in the study questions, but the other
questions do not need long answers. You do not need to answer every question. You
should focus on understanding the important questions asked by each philosopher and the
answers they came up with, as well as how exactly they agreed or disagreed with each
Final Writing Assignment:
When you are done with the book, write a 2-3 page (600-900 words) paper about how
reading this book has changed the way you think or the way you see the world. With
every writing assignment in this class—unless I specifically say otherwise—you should
give specific examples and quotations from the book, with page numbers.
Sophie’s World Note-taking method #1:
As an alternative to the study questions (see below), you could take summary notes,
describing the ideas and events in the book and copying down quotations from the book
that you think are important or that you want to remember and understand.
The focus of your notes should be to understand the philosophers who are discussed
throughout the novel. You should think in terms of 3-5 quotations per chapter. You
should take more notes for chapters in which several different philosophers are discussed
and you might skip note-taking for chapters where no philosophers are discussed.
Even if you choose this method of note-taking instead of the study questions, you will
still need to write the 3 one-page “Research Topic” essays listed in the study questions.
You should also use the study questions to help you understand the reading, even if you
don’t understand them.
I have included an example of how your summary notes might look.
Chapter #’s
and Titles
1. The
Garden of
2. The Top
Notes including a plot summary, philosophy and personal reflection
summary: Sophie Amundsen, a 15 year old Norwegian girl, finds puzzling
questions, a mysterious postcard for someone named Hilde and packets about the
history of philosophy in her mailbox. Sophie’s mother suspected that the
mysterious letters were from Sophie’s boyfriend, but they were actually from an
anonymous philosopher. Sophie ponders the basic building blocks of nature and
how Legos are like atoms. But was there some invisible material that is
immortal? Do humans have an immortal soul?
philosophy: Philosophy is the search for truth and meaning in life. It attempts to
3. The
answer the basic questions of where the world came from, what happens to us
after we die and how people should live their lives. Philosophers are like
children because they are willing to look at the world with wonder. They are
compared to beings clinging to the tip of a rabbit’s fine hair looking in wonder at
4. The
the universe around them and taking risks instead of burrowing into the fur.
People first tried to explain the world around them through mysteries. Greek
Philosophers philosophers tried to prove myths wrong by finding natural reasons for
unexplained occurrences. Thus, scientists were called natural philosophers until
quite recently. Greek natural philosophers sought answers about the
transformations they observed in the world around them. Is there a single basic
substance? Do substances remain the way they were created or are they in a
constant state of flux? The answer to these questions requires reason and sensual
perception. The Greeks developed the idea of basic elements (earth, air, fire and
water) and the atom (Democritus).
personal reflection: I wonder how this book can combine both a story and the
history of philosophy and how well teenagers can grasp philosophical issues. I
also wonder whether my AP European history students will enjoy this book. It’s
interesting but a little confusing to consider philosophical questions – especially
when they don’t seem to have a clear answer. I think I’m going to enjoy this