The reading assignment is to read pages 1-38 in A Long Walk to Water (I'll send you some information about the background for the book because it's based on a true story.)
The writing assignment is to understand the characteristics typical of naturalism in fiction (listed below) and explain why those who write about Of Mice and Men consider it a clear example of naturalist fiction. You'll need to pick at list two characteristics from the list below:
Naturalism is a kind of literature that was popular in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth. It has some or all of these characteristics:
(1) The world surrounding the characters is portrayed in great detail. The author doesn't just say, James walked by a number of big, old buildings. Instead the author says something like "James walked by huge, damaged and broken buildings that cast their crooked shadows wherever he stepped and seemed to follow him everywhere. "
This first characteristic is especially true of the settings in novels where the characters live close to nature as Lennie and George do, and here is just one example where Steinbeck spends a lot of time making readers "see" the setting he has in mind.
"Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the leaves. The shade climbed up the hills toward the top. On the sand banks the rabbits sat as quietly as little gray, sculptured stones. (I particularly like this simile) And then from the direction of the state highway came the sound of footsteps on crisp sycamore leaves. The rabbits hurried noiselessly for cover. A stilted heron labored up into the air and pounded (note how the verb helps you feel the movement) down river. For a moment the place was lifeless, and then two men emerged from the path and came into the opening by the green pool."
(2) The natural world is shown to be very powerful, and the author suggests that only the strongest, mentally and/or physically, can survive in it. (See the opening paragraph on page 99 starting "A water snake....")
(3) The characters are often poor and struggling to change their lives, and for a brief time they appear able to change both their character and/or the world they live in.
(4) The world, whether it's the city or nature, always wins out, and the character struggling to escape gets beaten down in some way or else dies. There are no happy endings in naturalist fiction.
Finding an introduction for this assignment will be the hardest part. And while I'd like you to come up with your own introduction, here is a model if you need it, "Critics discussing John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men are likely to call it an example of naturalist fiction, and for good reason. Signs of the naturalist writer's perspective (point of view) on life are everywhere. For instance...."
This is not an easy assignment, but do give it a try. You will do better than you think.
** I still have to send you the source of the title Of Mice and Men. I won't forget.