An Invaluable Resource for AP Literature and Composition: A Thematic Approach to Literary Analysis

AP Literature and Composition Textbook

Whether you’re looking for a study guide for AP English Literature or simply need help reviewing the course materials, a prep book can be an invaluable resource. These books typically include content review, practice tests, and more.

This literature and composition textbook introduces students to the important tools of literary analysis, and emphasizes the connection between style and meaning.


The only text designed specifically for AP students, Literature and Composition features a unique combination of high-quality literature selections and all the support students need to develop their reading, writing, and analysis skills. The book is organized thematically to put meaning first, ensuring that students will have access to a variety of amazing literature while honing their skills for the exam and assignments.

The new fourth edition offers more learning helps and a full-color Student Workbook, which is a great place for students to “do their work” as they study the literary selections. It also provides worktext space for all of the essential exercises and a range of additional, fun/reinforcement activities.

A teacher’s guide provides planning tools, teaching ideas, notes on potential pitfalls for students, close reading suggestions, and other critical classroom resources. Updated context links and resources are also included on the companion EIL website.


A story’s themes are the underlying messages or universal truths explored in literary works. These themes are deeper than plot and character; they address societal issues or human experiences, providing readers insights into the complexity of life.

Some popular themes are good versus evil, antagonism and altruism, love and relationships, and loss of innocence. Stories centered around these topics resonate with students because they are relatable and timeless.

In addition to exploring these important ideas, readers learn how authors communicate them through characterization, setting, symbolism and imagery, close reading, and an analysis of poetry. This edition also features a new chapter on analyzing visuals and includes an annotated Teacher’s Edition with practical planning tools, teaching ideas, notes on potential pitfalls for students, and an ExamView test bank of simulated AP questions.


Characterization involves the depiction of characters in a narrative, and it is an important part of literary analysis. Through characterization, readers can gain insights into the complexities of human emotions, relationships, and universal themes that connect humans across time and space. Characters also serve as vehicles for exploring the author’s thematic and narrative intentions, allowing readers to interpret and analyze the layers of meaning in a text. Characters can be directly described through physical attributes, mannerisms, or speech and dialogue, and readers can infer their traits and qualities from actions, reactions, inner thoughts, and reflections. Characters can also be indirectly described through symbolic or allegorical means. This fourth edition of the best-selling AP Literature textbook puts ideas first and provides additional learning helps and a new pacing chart for each module, along with updated context links and resources.


The setting of a story or poem is the physical location and time period in which it takes place. It can also refer to the character’s societal and cultural environment, including customs, beliefs, and values.

A well-developed setting often reflects and emphasizes character. For example, the furniture arrangement and wall decorations of a character’s room can reveal their personality and values. A character’s social, economic, and political context affects characterization as well.

Real settings add verisimilitude and authenticity to a story by allowing readers to imagine (or visit) the places where characters live, work, and play. However, writers of real settings must pay special attention to ensure their descriptions are accurate and authentic. This is especially important when writing about unfamiliar locales. The smallest inaccuracies could throw local readers out of the story.

Theme Analysis

Defining themes requires a close analysis of the many data items that comprise each theme. To make the process easier for students, the authors break each theme into several distinct components.

For example, to examine the theme of love and relationships, students will look at how characters contribute to this exploration and explore what thematic ideas they encapsulate or challenge. They will also consider how imagery and symbolism deepen the meaning of a work or evoke specific emotions.

The AP framework in this book supports the development of skills that are critical for college-preparatory literature courses, including analyzing and responding to texts. It also encourages student learning that is kairotic and constructive.

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