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TAP Library

One of Mr. Curtis’ favorite poets, Emily Dickinson, once wrote:

There is no frigate like a book

to take us lands away.

A frigate is a big ship, probably the way TAP would have traveled to other parts of the world had we stared our program back during Emily Dickinson’s lifetime.  So, what she’s saying is that there is no big boat (or for us modern folks, no jet plane) that is quite as good as a book is at helping us travel to far away places.

Of course, TAP thinks that traveling the world is a pretty amazing way to learn about things, but one of the things we love to do, to make sure we get the most out of our experiences when we’re in far away lands, is read before we travel.

Grabbing a few good books about the places we’ll visit, written by authors from our destination, or that give us insight into history always helps us connect to the people we meet and the places we see on a deeper level.  Sure, our airplanes are cool – but a book allows us to not just travel to Rome or Paris or Tokyo, a book allows us to travel back in time (at least in our minds) and see ancient gladiators, the French artists painting their masterpieces, or samurai warriors protecting the emperor.  Books allow us to get inside the minds of people we’ll never meet, like Anne Frank, Percy Fitzpatrick, or Odysseus.  We get to “see” things that don’t exist in real life – the ancient Greek gods, the German folktales from the Black Forest, and the leprechauns and faeries of Ireland – that we definitely don’t see while on our adventures.

Not only that, but reading The Master Puppeteer helped our students better understand what work went into the Bunraku puppet show we watched in Japan, reading the poem Under Ben Bulben before standing in the shadows of Ben Bulben (a mountain in Ireland) helped us better understand why Yeats’ poetry longed for the serenity of his home, and reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream before strolling through Shakespeare’s hometown made his genius all that more impressive.

This year, instead of assigning a book, play, or poem for each student to read each month, what we’ve decided to do is let you choose.

We have compiled a list of French folktales, classic literature, adventure stories, and romances that will help you travel to France in your mind long before we hop on a plane, climb the Eiffel Tower, explore the Louvre, or stand on the beaches of Normandy.  We’ve purposely chose a great variety of books that cover different styles, time periods, genres, subject matter, and reading ability, so that there is something for everyone on the list.  We hope, like all of us TAP teachers, that you’re excited about picking out a few books and gaining more knowledge about the people and places in France before we travel there.  After all, you’re about to take the trip of a lifetime – why wouldn’t you want to be better prepared and learn more before we go?

We ask that each student choose three books, plays, or poems from our list to read this year, then write a TAP Book Report to share with the other students in our group.  Officially, this assignment begins June 1st, and we ask that you read one by August 15th, a second one by October 15th, and your third choice by December 15th. (In December, we’ll post another list of literature selections that relate to the Benelux countrues – BElgium, the NEtherlands, and LUXembourg).

The assignment is as follows.

  • Select a book (total of three) that interests you on the Around the World in 80 Books: TAP’s French Library page.  Be sure to take a look at the different categories, and try to expand your horizons a bit by selecting from different ones
  • Read and learn a bit more about France.
  • After you’ve read, come back and use the comments section to post a response to the Key Questions listed on that page. 
  • After you’ve posted, remember that we’re hoping for a discussion here.  Pick four other kids’ comments and respond to them. 
  • Repeat until you’ve read three books/plays/poems from the list (or more if you want).

Please have your books read and your comments posted on or before the due dates listed above.  Reading, posting, and commenting is worth a total of 50 points for each book, or a total of 150 points for the entire assignment.   

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