The Glass Castle Hamilton High School Selection: Choose one of the following

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Non-AP English 12 Summer Reading Assignment

The Glass Castle

Hamilton High School
Selection: Choose one of the following:

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

OR The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Rationale: These works contain the elements of persuasion, expository, and narrative and will serve as an introduction to the non-fiction reading/writing required in English 12 as well as the analytical and introspective thought processes students are expected to engage in throughout the year.
Objectives: To read and respond to a non-fiction text

To understand how a writer uses language to create message and meaning

To analyze beyond what is directly stated in a text and ask deeper questions regarding societal norms
Assignment: Reading: It is recommended that students purchase a copy of the book they have selected. This will provide an opportunity for annotation and allow students to begin building their own libraries. The books are available via, at Barnes & Noble, Changing Hands used bookstore, Bookmans, and there will be a few copies of each available at the HHS library. Please check with the main office if you have trouble finding a copy.

Writing: Students will be required to respond to questions for the book they have selected. Each book will have its own guiding questions to provide support as they read.

Specific Essay Instructions for answering essay questions

  • MLA formatting (if you don’t know how, use to guide you)

  • Appropriate and relevant textual citations and references

  • Min.100 words, each discussion question response; INCLUDE a minimum of one CITED QUOTATION for each of the seven discussion topics.

  • Less than 10% summary—stick to analysis

  • Upload to (as one document, upon return and registration in your new class)

  • Due Thursday / Friday, August 9 / 10. Late work will not be accepted for this assignment.

Note: The questions are designed to guide the reader through the entire novel, and the student should be prepared to discuss each question in a Socratic forum.
Guiding Questions: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
1. Discussion question 1 (min 100 words including at least one cited quotation):

The Wells children are by far more mature, responsible, reliable and sensible than their parents. They protect and take care of themselves, each other, and even their parents. And yet, according to the law they are underage and, therefore, dependent on their parents. Should the Wells children have been allowed to be emancipated from their parents? Why or why not. Is it time to examine children’s rights? Should some children be granted more rights at an earlier age?

2. Discussion question 2 (min 100 words including at least one cited quotation):

Throughout the book we hear Rose Mary’s complaint: “I’m a grown woman now, why can’t I do what I want to do?” (74). Should Rose Mary be able to do what she wants? Why or why not? At what point can adults do whatever they want, if ever?

3. Discussion question 3 (min 100 words including at least one cited quotation):

When Jeannette describes Grandma Smith, she remembers a woman who “had strong opinions about the way things ought to be done – how to dress, how to talk, how to organize your time, how to cook and keep house, how to manage your finances…” (91), and says she loved her and all of her rules. However, Rose Mary, Grandma Smith’s daughter, felt that her mother “nagged and badgered” and that was the reason she herself never set rules for her own kids.

To what extent would rules have helped the Wells children to achieve healthy development, and to what extent would they have been restricting and limiting? Are some rules “age appropriate”? Do parents sometimes get so caught up in their own rules that they forget their children will one day be adults? Are some rules freeing?
4. Discussion question 4 (min 100 words including at least one cited quotation):

Mom’s big dream is to be an artist and she spends all of her time and the little money the family has on art supplies. Whenever the family moves, her paints and canvases move too. When the family tours Welch, a rundown city with sad people, Mom sees the bright side – she will be the only artist around. She never gives up on her dream.

Was there a point when it was time for her to give up her dream? If so, what is that point? Is there a point when individuals must give up their dreams? If so, what is that point?
5. Discussion question 5 (min 100 words including at least one cited quotation):

On one hand Jeannette Walls describes the squalor she and her family lived in: hunger, poverty, garbage, lack of basic necessities. On the other, she describes the rich intellectual world her parents imparted: discussions of geology, math, literature, art. In light of the fact that three out of the four Walls children became successful, productive members of society, what do you think was more important to the Wells children’s development: comfortable living conditions or an enriching intellectual environment? Explain your answer with support from the text.

6. Discussion question 6 (min 100 words including at least one cited quotation):

Everyone on Little Hobart Street in Welch is poor, and “everyone grudgingly accepted some form of public aid.” The Walls, however, refused any kind of help, although they were the poorest family on the street. Jeannette says, “Mom and Dad never applied for welfare or food stamps, and they always refused charity” (159). Why did the parents refuse any help? Should they have taken food stamps at least? Is it more important to have pride or have food? Did the refusal of food stamps and charity contribute to the children’s ultimate independence and self motivation?

7. Discussion question 7 (min 100 words including at least one cited quotation):

Mom says that welfare “would cause irreparable psychological damage” to the kids. “Once you go on welfare, it changes you. Even if you get off welfare, you never escape the stigma that you were a charity case. You’re scarred for life” (188). What does Mom mean when she says, “You’re scarred for life”? In what ways can individuals be scarred for life?

Assessment: A range (90-100%) – Essay answers indicate critical and close reading, thoughtful engagement and analysis. Very few if any grammatical or formatting errors are present. Academic voice. All directions are followed. Writing Level 5/6 on AIMS rubric.
B range (80-89%) – Essay answers predominantly critical and close reading, and mostly thoughtful engagement and analysis. Some, although few, grammatical or formatting errors may be present. Academic voice. All directions are followed. Writing Level 5/6 on AIMS rubric.
C range (70-79%) – Essay answers indicate some critical and close reading and analysis, although understanding of the text may be tangential or superficial. Very few if any grammatical or formatting errors are present. Academic voice. All directions are followed. Writing Level 4/5 on AIMS rubric.
D or F – (0-69%) These responses are not acceptable for AP-level work. It is unclear whether the book was read, or understood. Multiple errors in grammar, voice and formatting may be present. Writing Level 3/4 on AIMS rubric.

12th Grade Instructors – You will find a link to their email on line at

Ms. Hogan Ms. Ingraham Mr. Munczek Ms. Prosser

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