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Looking For Recommendations > Help! Choosing books to teach from this list

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message 1: by Vicki (last edited Aug 15, 2009 10:14PM) (new)

Vicki Hi all, this year is going to be my first year teaching American Literature (10th grade) in a large, extremely diverse, suburban/urban district. I am teaching an honors class, two standards and one modified. The required curriculum is The Crucible and The Great Gatsby and one to three other novels from the following list. What I am asking of you is when you were in school, what did you read, what did you like, what did you hate? Anything would help. I have cut a few off but I don't want to be too hasty with many of them. Again, I appreciate any input you can give. Thanks!!

The List
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Bread Givers Anzia Yezierska
A Farewell to Arms Ernest Hemingway
Catcher in the Rye JD Salinger
Ceremony Leslie Marmon Silko
Fallen Angels Walter Dean Meyers
Scarlett Letter Nathaniel Hawthorne
Native Son Richard Wright
Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller
Adventures of Huck Finn Mark Twain
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury
Old Man and the Sea Ernest Hemingway
Sun also Rises Ernest Hemingway
Tender is the Night F Scott Fitzerald
Street Car named Desire Tennessee Williams
Red Badge of Courage Stephen Crane
Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man James Weldon Johnson
Raisin in the Sun Lorraine Hansberry
Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams


message 2: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) I suggest Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Raisin in the Sun. I loved all of those, and think that they are perfect discussion starters! :)


message 3: by Hayes (last edited Aug 14, 2009 10:29PM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) I had to read many of these at school:

I think we were assigned every play that Tennessee Williams ever wrote... I still can't stomach him! Don't understand the appeal of Hemingway, Salinger and Fitzgerald either.

Now that I've trashed the classics... ; )

I agree with Becky: Loved Raisin, anything and everything by Mark Twain, Fahrenheit 451* so appropriate today what with the new emphasis on Book Banning and Virtual Burning (have you seen the ALA list of banned classics?) and how can you not teach Mockingbird?

*When I was in 8th Grade (early '80s) the best "mini course" we did was called the Future is Now, or something and we read Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, I, Robot, etc. We studied Esperanto and had a lot of other projects for a month between terms. I still have fond memories of that year!!


message 4: by Liz (new)

Liz I would suggest Farenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird and A Raisin in the Sun.
And no, I didn't realize Becky and I had picked the same books until after I typed that :)


message 5: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) That's because those three are the best! :D


message 6: by Hayes (new)

Hayes (hayes13) You bet!!


message 7: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) If I could, I'd like to mention one that isn't on the list, but is really, really making me think about the nature of humanity and life as we know it: Planet of the Apes.

I haven't finished it yet, but I am completely fascinated by it, and I think it would make for some really lively classroom discussions... :)


message 8: by Anna (new)

Anna Shumaker (annashu) I second 451 and perhaps the idea of books being forbidden will make them seem exciting. I have found that Salinger is either love or hate and some people absolutely connect with him or others (like myself) cannot stand him.


message 9: by April (new)

April (booksandwine) | 954 comments With the diversity, I think Walter Dean Myers could go over very well. Mockingbird, of course is awesome!

Really, I think there is value in teaching the classics at least for the challenge and teaching kids to make their own meaning from their reading, A Farewell to Arms might be good for teaching classics. I mean, we had to read A Farewell to Arms, and while as a book it was good, my teacher was somewhat nutty and weird, so it was hard to truly enjoy the book.


Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) I loved Huck Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Raisin in the Sun, but HATED The Old Man and the Sea. and could have done without The Scarlett Letter.


message 11: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Vegan (lisavegan) I loved Fahrenheit 451 and To Kill a Mockingbird.

The Old Man and the Sea was one of the very few assigned school books I loathed.

I read all these during middle school age.


message 12: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie | 413 comments Mockingbird is a great one.


message 13: by Hayes (last edited Aug 15, 2009 01:37AM) (new)

Hayes (hayes13) ALA banned classics list:

http://www.ala.org/ala/issuesadvocacy...

The list is a little confusing. It's the Radcliffe Publishing Course Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century. The titles in bold have been banned or challenged.


message 14: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (teresainohio) to kill a mockingbird, red badge of courage, huck finn and scarlet letter


message 15: by Jessica (new)

Jessica (jess0702) | 68 comments Huck Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird are two books i LOVED when we did them in school, and are both books students should definitely get exposure to in school


message 16: by Suzanne (last edited Aug 15, 2009 11:23AM) (new)

Suzanne (bellamy22) | 610 comments 'To Kill a Mockingbird' cannot think of anything better!!!


message 17: by Victoria (new)

Victoria | 34 comments Choose the shortest ones.


message 18: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Thanks for all of your input so far. I've read so few of them in high school actually. I read the Scarlett Letter and I don't remember hating it, but it was one of the required readings in the past and the teachers requested to have it changed, so I'd guess that to mean students' were not responding well. I also did Old Man and the Sea and didn't love it either. I already took Moby Dick from the list because I detested it as a senior in AP English.

Raisin in the Sun fits in well with some of the other works in the text book so that's definitely a consideration. I will probably do three with my honors and at least two with my standard. I also would like to teach To Kill A Mockingbird, and Fahrenheit 451, and was thinking about Huck Finn too.

And April was right Walter Dean Meyers appeals to a lot of the kids also.

Thank you so much and if anyone else has any other opinions, please let me know. I will be spending next week creating unit outlines, since September is fast approaching.




message 19: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Becky wrote: "If I could, I'd like to mention one that isn't on the list, but is really, really making me think about the nature of humanity and life as we know it: Planet of the Apes.

I haven't finished it ye..."


Thanks for the input. Unfortunately I cannot require them to read a book that has not already been pre-approved by the committee, but I can always work something out with the independent reading they do. I like to try things like that out with the honors and then adapt it into the other levels if it works out. I will check it out though and maybe I can even try to get it added.




message 20: by Teresa (new)

Teresa (teresainohio) with to kill a mockingbird and raisin in sun could you also watch the movie and contrast the two?


message 21: by Becky (new)

Becky (beckyofthe19and9) Oh, right, I forgot that you have restrictions! *sigh* That makes me glad that I am free to read what I like.

But definitely see if you can work it in somehow. I loved it!



message 22: by Mickey (new)

Mickey Reed (mreedjournals) Scarlett Letter has always been one of my favorites. I don't think it always goes over well, but I've learned to appreciate it throughout the years. There is a lot of symbolism. Lots of things to think about and create with it. :o) Good luck!


message 23: by Meredith (new)

Meredith (meredithgayle) | 32 comments When I was in the 10th grade, we did a realism/fantasy unit. One of the books we read was Old Man and the Sea. I really enjoyed this book. I've never read any other Hemingway, but I reccommend this book for your class.


message 24: by scherzo♫ (last edited Aug 16, 2009 07:41AM) (new)

scherzo♫ (pjreads) I agree: Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird

I remember Red Badge Of Courage from high school as a peek into the alien-human world of males.

A couple of books are new to me and I added Ceremony to my To Read list. Thanks!

(somehow your list has J D Salinger as the author of A Farewell to Arms instead of Ernest Hemingway)


message 25: by Maria (new)

Maria (minks05) | 481 comments ok, please do not subject them to Old Man and the Sea. that is possibly the closest to the outer rings of hell i have ever been to.

i really liked Death of a Salesman and Glass Menagerie, but plays are hard to read sometimes.

Fahrenheit 451 generates some great discussions, i did that book with seniors when i student taught. To Kill a Mockingbird would also open up some great talking points.


message 26: by Kat (last edited Aug 15, 2009 07:13PM) (new)

Kat (thatcrazykatlady) | 25 comments To Kill a Mockingbird seems to be universally loved, so I would definitely recommend including that. My other two choices would be A Raisin in the Sun and Fallen Angels, as it seems diversity in the reading list would be especially important ... well, in any classroom.

I remember liking The Scarlet Letter very much in high school, but also remember that it reviled by pretty much everyone who wasn't me. No one should be exposed to F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway against their will.


message 27: by GracieKat (new)

GracieKat | 864 comments Vicki wrote: "Hi all, this year is going to be my first year teaching American Literature (10th grade) in a large, extremely diverse, suburban/urban district. I am teaching an honors class, two standards and one..."

I'm just curious why horror novels are never included in school curriculums? Some are very well written and you can see a lot of the trends in society's fears and phobias.


message 28: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (bellamy22) | 610 comments I agree with Grace... and with that I say 'Dracula' by Bram Stoker.
All of my psychology classes went on into college using the vampire metaphor and on into the more complex diversities ... yay!!! :)


message 29: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Grace wrote: "Vicki wrote: "Hi all, this year is going to be my first year teaching American Literature (10th grade) in a large, extremely diverse, suburban/urban district. I am teaching an honors class, two sta..."

The Seniors do Dracula in British Literature and I have always taught And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie with the freshmen, though I am not sure you'd consider that horror, but I definitely delved into some pyschology. I haven't really been part of the decision making process yet, in this school, so I am not sure why not.


message 30: by Vicki (new)

Vicki pjreads wrote: "I agree: Fahrenheit 451, To Kill a Mockingbird

I remember Red Badge Of Courage from high school as a peek into the alien world of males.

A couple of books are new to me and I added Ceremony t..."


That was my mistake, I left off Catcher in the Rye and typed it's author for the wrong book. Thanks!




message 31: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments Definitly Catcher in the Rye or To kill a Mockingbird, everyone in my school absolutly HATED Fahrenheit 451


message 32: by Katie (new)

Katie I would like to 52nd the To Kill a Mockingbird nomination. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone disliking that novel.

I'd also recommend the Catcher in the Rye. I read it as a 10th grader and felt that it spoke to my state of mind that year. My dad read it in his 50s and didn't seem to get it at all. I think you might have to be a teenager to really understand how fake everyone is. :-)

I would also recommend Native Son. It had a major impact on me in 11th grade. (Just make sure that the school approved version isn't abridged. Down with censorship!)


message 33: by Dree (new)

Dree I loved Fahrenheit 451 when we read it in high school (funny--that was one of our class favorites that year). I also enjoyed Ceremony and Native Son, though I was a freshman in college when I read them, but they were not hard reads by any stretch. I am not a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird or Catcher in the Rye or The Great Gatsby. I just don't get the appeal of any of them (especially Gatsby--blech). I did enjoy The Crucible, I read it in high school, but can't really remember it now.

Since you specifically stated you are in an extremely diverse area, I think you should honor that and not use only the typical Euro-American stuff. Though I also think students in not-diverse areas should be exposed to the diversity of America, and literature is a great way to do that.


Lyn (Readinghearts) (lsmeadows) Grace - I agree. Our district actually does Frankenstein by Mary Shelley in the 10th grade, and The Raven and The Fall of the House of Usher in the 11th grade.


message 35: by Julie (new)

Julie | 54 comments I'm not sure if you could do this, but try letting the students vote for what they want to read, i no i would love if our school district would let us pick, in my school there is a set 8-10 books we have to read every year. and the teachers can't deviate from that list they can add more books as long as the classes get through all those books by the end of the year. It seems like you have to have the books picked before you get to school but as a book lover i would like to be able to choose what we could read for school.

I no this doesn't help but i have to say its fun to see what "older" generations enjoyed in high school and to see that people are still reading the same novels, plays and short stories. Being in HS now and actually really enjoying books its cool to see that the real classics never die, but it would also be cool if schools added newer books to their curriculum.


message 36: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (macyboston) Vicki wrote: "Hi all, this year is going to be my first year teaching American Literature (10th grade) in a large, extremely diverse, suburban/urban district. I am teaching an honors class, two standards and one..."
h
I've taught many of these but Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Meyers is probably the one that most students like overall.

I've found that boys tend to loose interest early in high school literature. This book can keep their interest and maybe help them continue to read throughout their education.





message 37: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Julie wrote: "I'm not sure if you could do this, but try letting the students vote for what they want to read, i no i would love if our school district would let us pick, in my school there is a set 8-10 books w..."

It seems that the newer books in the school I teach in are in the other grades. I am also teaching 11th which is World Literature and In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Memoirs of Geisha by Arthur Golden are a part of that curriculum.

I appreciate the element of choice with students, I have given options in honors, because they have to read at least one extra over the other classes. I have also broken them into groups with different books, but I need to feel more comfortable with the curriculum first. They are also very honest about how they feel about the books and I always take that into consideration the following years. This is the first time and I didn't read a lot of these in high school myself, so I wanted to see what other peoples' perspectives were and everyone has been very helpful.


message 38: by Vicki (new)

Vicki Melissa wrote: "Vicki wrote: "Hi all, this year is going to be my first year teaching American Literature (10th grade) in a large, extremely diverse, suburban/urban district. I am teaching an honors class, two sta..."

Thanks for sharing that experience!


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Adventures of Huck Finn by Mark Twain. My Grandmother gave me this book when I was younger (I think I would have been eight or nine) and while it took me a little while to read I did enjoy it a lot!


message 40: by Rachael (new)

Rachael (rprensner) I did American Lit last year and we read "Uncle Tom's Cabin," "The Scarlet Letter," The Jungle," "My Antonia," and "The Great Gatsby."
Of these we universally hated "The Scarlet Letter." I still can't get over how stilted his writing style was, and how moralizing and preachy his tone. The characters were meant to be types obviously but in becoming so they pretty much lost all realism and depth of their own. THe dialogue was absolutely ridiculous. Honestly the only reason I can see to read this book is for the sake
of cultural literacy.
I'm glad "The Great Gatsby" is required. It was a great, wonderfully poetic book that read like a whirlwind.
Just wondering if you could possibly work in Willa Cather's "My Antonia"? we read that last year and it was beautiful. It was about life on the prarie but thankfully had none of the overdone Little House on the Prarie Feel of so many historical books. "Antonia" is not the narrator but the daughter of immigrants and represents the determined, free spirit of prarie life.
Of the other books I've only read "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Catcher in the Rye" (on my own). "Mockingbird," though not a favorite, would be a decent pick. I think "Catcher" reads too much like an angsty YA novel to be really good for a lit class- just my opinion. Definitely a good book.



message 41: by John (new)

John Burns Vicki wrote: "Hi all, this year is going to be my first year teaching American Literature (10th grade) in a large, extremely diverse, suburban/urban district. I am teaching an honors class, two standards and one..."

The scarlet letter and the red badge of courage are 2 of the most notoriously boring novels for a school student to read. Catcher i personally have never been hugely impressed by.

Everyone loves to kill a mockingbird so that's always a good bet.
And fahrenheit 451 and the old man and the sea are short, easy to understand exciting thrillers. So go with those 3.


message 42: by Jessup (new)

Jessup I teach 9/10 grade English in a diverse district. Our required reading list:
9:
To Kill a Mockingbird
Romeo and Juliet
Of Mice and Men
10:
The Odyssey
Great Expectations
Things Fall Apart

I can't believe Shakespeare isn't on your list! The Scarlet Letter compliments The Crucible very well, but I agree with many of the postings: it's not a crowd pleaser! I would jump at the chance to teach Catcher, and I know the kids would love it. To Kill a Mockingbird is essential. I was pleasantly surprised to see Bread Givers on the list, because I really enjoyed reading it. I think you should go with either Death of a Salesman or The Glass Menagerie, just so the kids are exposed to a different form. Ultimately, you should choose books that you love and are excited about teaching. If you love what you are teaching, the kids will see the beauty in it, too. Good luck and have fun!


message 43: by Misty (new)

Misty | 15 comments When I was in school, I loved To Kill a Mockingbird and The Glass Menagerie (which I read on my own. Don't think any of my friends would have liked it...). I was caution against The Scarlet Letter. I don't really know any 10th graders that will like or appreciate Hawthorne. In fact, I don't know many adults who would. The preachy style of the time doesn't really fly anymore. Catcher in the Rye always seems to be a teen fave, though I was unimpressed. A book that really stood out for me that isn't on your list is A Separate Peace. I remember my whole 10th grade class falling in love with that.

Good luck!


message 44: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne (bellamy22) | 610 comments OMG Misty, I remember that book ... I remember loving it!


message 45: by Misty (new)

Misty | 15 comments Did you fall in love with Phineas too? I swear I had a crush on a character (but that's what you get when you're 16 -- crushes on everything)


message 46: by GracieKat (new)

GracieKat | 864 comments I've heard of Dracula and Frankenstein being taught (read, whatever) but I'm talking about more modern horror. Some of them are very well written and they get looked over quite a bit because of the fact that they're horror. Before anyone says that horror is not actual literature and doesn't teach anything you can look at horror through the centuries and you can see that they usually reflect society's gneral fears and phobias. Fr instance, the killers that make the news everyday. If you look at a lot of horror movies and novels of this era there are a lot of ones about psycho killers.


message 47: by Vicki (new)

Vicki I wanted to thank everyone for your input. You have given me a lot to think about and I plan to try out many of the suggestions in the various levels of classes and hopefully some others in future years. This was very helpful for me, since I didn't read most of the books in high school, I wasn't sure how a high school student would react to them. I use their feedback as well when planning for the following years, but you have all given me a tremendous insight for this year.

Thanks Again!


message 48: by [deleted user] (new)

What a wonderful list! I would go with To Kill a Mockingbird. It is well written and still today has major inpact in our lives in general as prejudice still exists and curiousity is always in the minds of children.


Huck Finn would be a great one to liven up the spirit. Mark Twain is amazing satirist (I don't think I spelled that right). The irony and joy in this book still captivates me today. Lots to be learned in this book and I think it would capture the minds of 10th graders.

My Favorite Hemingway books is on your list-Farewell to Arms. This is a great Novel as it does acurately dipict the war and is based upon a love affair that Hemingway had.

Oh so many wonderful books on the list. Good Luck Vicki!



message 49: by Bucket (new)

Bucket | 44 comments I think that "To Kill a Mockingbird" is wonderful but better for 8th graders. For 10th graders, I would go with "Catcher in the Rye", "Fahrenheit 451", and/or "Huck Finn." I remember at that age wanting something a little 'forbidden', if that makes sense, and these books fit the bill.


message 50: by Katie (new)

Katie Vicki wrote: "Hi all, this year is going to be my first year teaching American Literature (10th grade) in a large, extremely diverse, suburban/urban district. I am teaching an honors class, two standards and one..."

May I ask what you ended up choosing?


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