English 11 Reading Workshop: Letter-Essays



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English 11 Reading Workshop: Letter-Essays
What is a letter-essay?

A letter-essay is an informal kind of essay, written in paragraphs, where you talk to me about a novel you have read (or are almost done reading). It should be at least 500 words long, which is about 2 typed and double-spaced pages. You will write one letter-essay each term.


What do I write in a letter-essay?

Once you’ve chosen a book to write about, return to the book and skim through it. Select at least one passage you think is significant, in terms of the book’s theme, problem, character development, or plot, or the author’s writing style. The passage should show something essential.


In your letter-essay, once you have given the title of the novel and the author, and perhaps explained why you chose it (or abandoned it), quote (copy) the passage you chose into the letter-essay, and write about what you think it shows about the book, the author, or your own reading.
Other things you can write about in your letter-essay include:


For more detailed information, see the template of a letter-essay, which explains what goes in each paragraph.
Below are some sentence prompts that might help you with your letter-essay. The important thing to remember is that you are not re-telling the story of the novel; instead, your letter-essay should tell something you didn’t realize about your book, or about yourself as a reader, before you read it.
Remember that this is a letter-essay, so it should begin with a greeting, and a closing (Sincerely, or Yours truly,), followed by your signature and printed/typed name. Put the date at the top.
Sentence Prompts for Letter-Essays

I was surprised when/angry about/satisfied with/moved by/incredulous at…

I liked the way the author… I noticed how the author…

I don’t get why the author… If I were the author I would have…

I’d compare this author to… This book reminded me of…

The main character… The character development…

The narrative voice… The structure of this book…

The climax of the plot… I wish that…

The resolution of the main character’s problem… The genre of this book…

I’d say a theme of this book is… I didn’t agree with…

I understood… I couldn’t understand…

Why did… This is how I read this book:

I rated this one ___ because…

I was struck by/interested in/convinced by this passage: “…..” It shows ___ about this author’s



writing.


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