AP US History-Summer Reading Assignment

AP U.S. History Summer Reading Paper

You will need to get a copy of the 2007 version of James Loewen’s book, Lies My Teacher Told Me. Check your local library first, check the internet for free access, or Amazon.com or Barnes and Nobles.com. This book examines why high school U.S. History textbooks often leave out “certain” information….information that would be seen as controversial by many Americans, regardless that it is the truth. The purpose of this assignment is to expose you to a different way of looking at American History.

 Reading Assignment                                                                       


The following chapters are mandatory that you read:

·         Introduction (p.12-17)

·         Ch. 10-12 (p.254-318)

Then you may choose two of the first four chapters.

·         Ch. 1: How heroes are born in US History.

·         Ch. 2: 1493, the “real” C. Columbus.

·         Ch. 3: Thanksgiving.

·         Ch. 4: Native American relations with settlers.

Paper Assignment

1.      After you have read the above, you will answer the following questions in the first part of the paper. (1-2 pages)

·         How is U.S. History often taught, according to Loewen?

·         Why is history taught like this?

·         What are the pros and cons of U.S. History being taught selectively?

·         What is your opinion of the subject? How might you think differently if your personal position was different?

2.      For the second part of the paper: For each individual 2 out 4 chapters you read, answer the following based on your selection: (1-2 pages)

·         What is heroification? Why is it a bad thing according to Loewen? Why don’t the textbooks address the shortcomings of historical figures?

·         Why is Ch. 2 entitled, “1493”? Why does Loewen have a problem with focusing so much attention on Columbus?

·         According to Loewen, what are some of the myths of the first Thanksgiving? What are some of the truths? Are the differences between the myths and truths important? Why?

·         What are some of your memories of the portrayals of Native Americans in your history textbooks? Do they differ or are they similar to the accounts in the books Loewen surveys?

3.      Lastly you are to write what your own personal philosophy is as to how U.S. History should be taught in this class. (1 page)


1.      Paper needs to be 4-5 pages.

2.      You should incorporate quotes from the book to fully answer the questions.

3.      The assignment will count as a test grade.

4.      Assignment is due the first day of class of the fall semester.

Some Final Words of Advice:

1. Enjoy your summer. These few assignments should not consume all of your free time this

summer. Go to the movies, take a swim, or stroll the mall with your friends. You will wish for

that free time during the school year!

2. Explore history. If you take a vacation, see if you can stop at an historical marker along the

way. Or, do a little research about the place you are visiting. Take the time to start thinking

historically. History is all around you if you allow yourself to see it!

3. Read. Try to read several books over the course of the summer. You will do a ton of reading

in this class next year and if you are not in the habit of turning pages, it will be much more

difficult to adjust. Read fiction, if that is your choice, but try picking up a historical book as

well. There are some real page-turners about American history. Ask at the library and they

will be delighted to steer you in the right direction.

4. Write. Keep a journal for the summer, or try to write a short story. The more you write the

easier it is to write well. You will do a lot of writing in this class. The more comfortable you

are with writing the more successful you will be.

5. Become an informed citizen. Read the newspaper. Watch CSPAN. Listen to NPR. Try to

keep updated on the world’s events. Develop an opinion about Obama’s successes and

failures as a president.

6. Learn your geography. Geography is going to play an important part of this course. Do you

know all 50 states? Learn them. Can you find the major mountain ranges of the US on a map?

What about rivers, oceans and lakes? Memorize them! How about other continents: do you

know the locations of countries in Latin America? Europe? Asia? The more you know about

geography the farther ahead you will be.

7. Watch history movies! Do you really need to watch Ironman 2 again? Of course not! If you

have a free evening – try to watch something historical. Visit http://www.historyplace.com/films/index.html for suggestions, or type “good history

movie” into Google and see what comes up!

8. Memorize the Presidents and their major accomplishments. This will help you prepare

for the AP exam in May, so you may as well get a jump start. Try to do them in blocks of 3:

Washington, Adams, Jefferson (pause) Madison, Monroe, Adams …

9. Explore your family history. Stuck for a conversation starter at dinner? Ask your elders

what it was like growing up. Do they remember any significant events in American history?

How were they affected? You’ll be surprised how interesting people’s lives really are.

10. Think Like a Pirate!When looking at history, always keep in mind the Political, Intellectual, Religious, Artistic, Technological, Economic, and Social aspects of events. 

** Extra credit- Take a photo of yourself reading the book in a cool summer location!