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AP Literature Short Story Resource:"Once Upon A Time" -Now for Distance Learning

Grade Levels
11th - 12th
Formats Included
  • Zip
41 pages
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  1. Looking for engaging short stories aligned to the 2019 AP Curriculum Framework to launch your year? This resource includes three engaging short stories that feature allegories and/or fairytale-esque elements in order to convey messages about social change. Additionally, this resource is designed to
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This resource is aligned with the Short Fiction I Unit of the new AP Literature and Composition curriculum framework. This story and the resources provided provide a delightful way to build students' literary analysis, discussion, and writing skills.

"Once Upon A Time" is a short frame narrative that tells the story of South Africa under apartheid, using constant allusions to children's stories in order to do so.


Feedback from Educators:

  • “What a great short story and what a great resource! Really, this resource has great questions to guide your students and hits on many of the needed skills for AP Lit (at least to my eye as someone who is teaching it for the first time). I really recommend this short story (there's so much there to work with) and this resource!”
  • “SO helpful! My students loved it!”


This 43-page resource includes:

  • Digital, paper, and discussion-based versions of the lesson included! Perfect for both in-person instruction and distance learning!
  • Historical Context on South Africa and Nadine Gordimer
  • A teaching guide for reciprocal teaching that will guide you through the steps of scaffolding independent student analysis
  • A reciprocal teaching graphic organizer, a discussion rubric, and discussion protocol
  • Suggested discussion questions
  • A plot structure analysis activity
  • Analysis paragraph activity meant to scaffold students' ability to make claims, smoothly embed quotes, and provide analytical commentary
  • Two versions of activities: one discussion-based form and another print-and-teach activity (perfect as a sub plan!)
  • A detailed answer key
  • Bonus: A resource for reviewing How to Read Literature Like a Professor's chapter "Hanseldee and Greteldum" after reading to prepare for analyzing the fairytale elements present in this story.


Due to copyright restrictions, the story itself is not provided. A link to where the story can be found online is included and the text can be found in one of the following anthologies: Perrine's Literature: Structure, Sound, and Sense (13th edition) and Jump and Other Stories by Nadine Gordimer.


Alignment to 2019 AP Literature and Composition Curriculum Framework:

  • CHR-1.A: Description, dialogue, and behavior reveal characters to readers.
  • CHR-1.B: Descriptions of characters may come from a speaker, narrator, other characters, or the characters themselves.
  • CHR-1.C: Perspective is how narrators, characters, or speakers understand their circumstances, and is informed by background, personality traits, biases, and relationships.
  • CHR-1.D: A character’s perspective is both shaped and revealed by background, personality traits, biases, and relationships.
  • SET-1.A: Setting includes the time and place of events n a narrative; events throughout a narrative are connected, with each event building on the others, often with a cause and effect relationship.
  • STR-1.A: Plot is the sequence of events in a narrative; events throughout a narrative are connected, with each event building on the others, often with a cause-and-effect relationship.
  • STR-1.B: The dramatic situation of a narrative includes the setting and action of the plot and how the narrative develops to place characters in conflict(s), and often involves the rising or falling fortunes of a main character or set of characters.
  • STR-1.C: Plot and the exposition that accompanies it focus readers’ attention on the parts of the narrative that matter most to its development, including characters, their relationships, and their roles in the narrative, as well as the setting and the relationship between characters and setting.
  • NAR-1.A: Narrators or speakers relate accounts to readers and establish a relationship between the text and the reader.
  • NAR-1.B: Perspective refers to how narrators, characters, or speakers see their circumstances, while point of view refers to the position from which a narrator or speaker relates the events of a narrative.
  • NAR-1.C: A speaker or narrator is not necessarily the author.
  • NAR-1.D: The point of view contributes to what narrators, characters, or speakers can and cannot provide in a text based on their level of involvement and intimacy with details, events, or characters.
  • NAR-1.F: First-person narrators are involved in the narrative; their relationship to the events of the plot and other characters shape their perspective.
  • NAR-1.G Third-person narrators are outside observers.
  • NAR-1.H: Third-person narrators’ knowledge about events and characters may range from observational to all-knowing, which shapes their perspective.
  • NAR-1.J: The outside perspective of narrators may not be affected by the events of a narrative.
  • LAN-1.A: In literary analysis, writers read a text closely to identify details that, in combination, enable them to make and defend a claim about an aspect of the text.
  • LAN-1.B: A claim is a statement that requires a defense with evidence from the text.
  • LAN-1.C: In literary analysis, the initial components of a paragraph are the claim and the textual evidence that defends the claim.


Teaching AP Literature and Composition? Check out some of my resources below:
1. AP Literature Test Prep. Choice Board

2. AP Literature Poetry Reciprocal Teaching Activity

3. AP Literature Prose Reciprocal Teaching Activity

4. AP Literature Reciprocal Teaching Bundle

5. AP Literature Introduction to Poetry Activity and Poetic Précis

5. Brave New World Unit (For AP Students)

6. King Lear Unit (For AP Students)

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Total Pages
41 pages
Answer Key
Included with rubric
Teaching Duration
2 days
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.
Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.
Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.
Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.


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