7 March 2017

PART 1: Letter-Essay (Independent Reading Requirement Assignment)

Dear ______________________________,

This is an opportunity to consider books, reading, authors, and writing. You’ll think about your books in informal essays directed to me, and later, to friends—and we’ll write back to you about your ideas and observations. Our letter-essays and responses will become a record of the reading, thinking, learning, and teaching we accomplished together.

Each letter-essay should be at least two pages long and written as a personal, critical response to the book—in other words, not a series of paragraphs about a series of books, but a long look at one that intrigues you.

Before you write, look back over your reading record. Which title that you’ve finished would be most enjoyable to revisit as a fan? What book that you abandoned—or remained hopeful about to the bitter end—would be the most enjoyable to revisit in a slam? Once you’ve decided, return to the book. Skim it, and select at least one passage you think is significant, in terms of how you reacted to the book’s theme, problem, character development, or plot arc, or to the author’s style. Choose a chunk of text that you think shows something essential. In your letter essay, quote—copy—the passage you chose, and write about what you think it shows about the book, the author, or your response to either.

What else might you do in your letter-essay? Tell about your experience as a reader of the book. Describe what you think the themes might be. Tell what surprised you. Pose your wonderings—your questions about the author, the characters, the structure, the voice, and yourself as a reader. Try the sentence openers I provided to help get you thinking and writing. Be aware that a good letter-essay is one that teachers you something you didn’t realize about your book, or yourself as a reader, before you wrote it.

Once you’ve written it, complete Part 2 of the Independent Reading Requirement Assignment. Date your letter-essays in the upper left-hand corner, and use a conventional greeting (Dear­­­____,) and closing (Love, Your Friend, Sincerely,). Always cite the name of the author of the book and its title. Indicate the title by capitalizing and underlining it—for example Fahrenheit 541 by Ray Bradbury.

I’m excited for us to begin reading and thinking about literature together in this serious-but-friendly way. I’m excited for your first letter-essays and the chance to learn from you, learn with you, and help you learn more about the power and pleasures of books.


Mrs. Sorensen

Sentence Openers:

  • Your thoughts and feelings on the book.
  • Do you like it? Not like it? Why or why not?
  • What do you think about the characters?
  • What parts of the book do you like?
  • Why did you choose to read that book?
  • Is there any part of the book that you are having a hard time understanding? Are there hard words, or is the writing confusing?
  • What do you think is going to happen next in the book?
  • Plans for what you are going to read next?

Part 2: Commentary and Response on class website

  • Look at our class website ( and find your class from the drop down menu.
  • Look for the post called “How to Post” and read the directions on there.
  • Find the post labeled with your class period.
  • Post your Independent Reading Commentary on your class period’s post. Commentaries should be at least 300 words. (Suggestion: use the really good parts of your letter-essay to construct your commentary.)
  • And finally, respond to a classmate’s post. Responses should be at least 150 words.
    1. Try to comment on someone’s post that hasn’t been commented on yet.
    2. Try to comment on a book that you’ve read, or one that you find interesting or possibly disagree with or didn’t like in some way.


One thought on “End of 3rd Term (And Independent Reading Assignment)

  1. In the perks of being a wallflower he tells you everything the way it is but, at the same time he kept a lot hidden. Such as the actual names of sam and patrick. It wasn’t as if it was actually necessary to know the small details like this but it lead you on with a sense of wonder. Even when the book ended. I just wanted to know the simple things like charlie, sames and patrick’s life after the book.

    I really enjoyed how things were written as letters to someone. Because mostly when you write a letter, it becomes like a train of thought. Like looking into their brain. For instance i like how it showed him suppressing his emotions. Charlie would just deny what was going on then as things piled up he broke down and all the sudden the book was moving faster, when at the beginning everything was slower.

    Even if you can’t relate to the characters the book it is still fully relatable to teens. There is something in this book for everyone. For me I related to this book quite a bit. That is why this is hands down my favorite book.

    Charlie’s friends took my interest. I love sam so much and I got super attached to her. Even if she isn’t real I want the best for her and wish I could’ve been her friend. Also Patrick, he had some problems mostly with boys but he deserves so much better than what was happening to him.

    This book means a lot to me. If you have ever felt like something is just made for you, this is the book that gave me that feeling. I related to every character in some way. It was amazing to feel that way about the characters.


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