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5 Classics that are Great for the High School Classroom

Posted by Emily Guthrie on Jul 1, 2015 3:27:34 AM

 I think it can be nice to switch up the reading list every couple of years or so.  Sometimes we are forced to change because of school/district policies, and sometimes we just want to change to keep students (and ourselves) engaged in the curriculum. Today I want to share 5 of my favorite books for the high school classroom so that next time you are approached about changing the book list, you have some place to start.  I'd love to hear your suggestions/reasons in the comment section below!  I'm also including links and helpful information about the Simply Novel Reading Guides that will get you ready to teach these books in no time! (Simply Novel reading guides are aligned to common core and are available in print and pdf from simplynovel.com. Check out the website for these titles and much more.)

 

If you are not already reading these titles, you should consider adding: 

1. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros:

  • Why your classes should read it: This novel is a series of vignettes that tell the story of a young Latina named Esperanza.  The concepts are mature, but the reading level is accessible for struggling readers.  So many times students with lower reading levels get stuck reading banal selections that hardly inspire deep thought or a love of reading.  This novella bridges the gap perfectly.  It is also a quick read so it is friendly to already crowded curriculum maps!
  • What the Simply Novel Reading Guide has to offer: The House on Mango Street guide includes guided reading questions/answers, vocabulary development, and formative/summative assessments as well as work on slang, colloquialisms, historical context, sentence structure, and more!

2. 1984 by George Orwell:

  • Why your classes should read it: Advances in technology make this novel more relevant to teens every year (unlike other novels that struggle to hold on to relevance for today's teens).  Just trust me on this one; they get it and it is amazing to watch.
  • What the Simply Novel Reading Guide has to offer: The 1984 guide includes guided reading questions/answers, vocabulary development, and formative/summative assessments as well as work on propaganda, censorship, word origins, dystopian literature, and more!

3. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe:

  • Why your classes should read it: First, many schools are lacking in great African literature and this one really hits the mark. Second, students can definitely grasp on to the universal conflict of family dynamics and overbearing parents. Plus, it offers great insight into how cultures change, which can be the beginning of some amazing iSearch and research papers!
  • What the Simply Novel Reading Guide has to offerThe Things Fall Apart guide includes guided reading questions/answers, vocabulary development, and formative/summative assessments as well as work on proverbs, allegories, historical context, and more!

4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:

  • Why your classes should read it: This novel offers so much more than the pop culture understanding of the monster with screws in his head.  I've had so many students who feel like they are part of an exclusive club of intellectuals after reading this novel, especially when they find a moment to correct an adult or media post referring to the Creature as Frankenstein instead of referring to Victor as Frankenstein.
  • What the SimplyNovel Reading Guide has to offerThe Frankenstein guide includes guided reading questions/answers, vocabulary development, and formative/summative assessments as well as work on genre (Science Fiction, Gothicism, Mythology, and Romanticism), allusions, mood, archetypes, and more!

5. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare:

  • Why your classes should read it: Most students leave high school having read a few Shakespearean tragedies and zero comedies. This comedy is packed full of thought provoking text and the typical beauty of Shakespearean language.
  • What the Simply Novel Reading Guide has to offer: The Midsummer Night's Dream guideincludes guided reading questions/answers, vocabulary development, and formative/summative assessments as well as work on drama conventions, Shakespearean language, and extensive work on character development.

What would you add to this list and why?  Do you teach any of these?  What has been your experience?

Topics: books, curriculum, Lesson Planning, Literature, novels, plays

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