Why is the study of high school literature so important? Of course, we want our children to be well read, and hopefully to enjoy reading in general. But at the high school level, perhaps reading is secondary to the resulting thought processes. When a student reads, a student also thinks.
In fact, the critical and creative thought processes, discussions, and debates that result when a student and teacher analyze and interpret a piece of literature are boundless. Moreover, doing this within the family unit allows the parents the ability to interject their feeling, beliefs, values and ideas, making the entire process a learning and bonding experience. Following, are suggestions that will make this process an enjoyable one for you and your family:
Initiate Family Reading Time
Remember how much your children loved being read to when they were small? Kids don’t grow out of this—even teenagers enjoy being read to. Initiate a family reading time where everyone gets involved, or depending on the difficulty of the book and the maturity of the topic, one where you and your teenager read together.
Use this opportunity to introduce books your student might not choose on his/her own, and to introduce topics that you think are important and necessary for your child to learn.
Include Literature In Your Dinner Discussions
Dinner time is a wonderful time to discuss what your high school student is reading. For example, discuss plots and characters and the differences in life then vs. now.
Additionally, this is a superb opportunity to get the little ones involved too. What are they reading? My favorite books when I was young were Charlotte’s Web and The Light in the Forest. To this day, I still appreciate these stories. They taught about friendship and loyalty. These are wonderful and important books.
Everyone can have input at the family table.
Have Your Student Be Involved In Reading Groups
Encourage your teenagers to join reading groups. Better yet, encourage them to form reading groups with their peers. This will be especially educational on many levels, and will provide socialization opportunities.
Listen To Books On Tape
Books on tape—what a great idea! In fact, books on tape are an educational life-saver for students with learning disabilities. Plus, they are so convenient. For example, you can play them in the car instead of listening to the radio. How many times do you want to hear the same song played over and over again? Listen to a book instead!
Use Cheats Where Appropriate
See the movie. This isn’t cheating if you see the movie AND read the book. Then you and your student can compare the two. In fact, this is an important and valid learning experience, as your student might very well realize he likes the book better!
Read Cliff’s notes/similar summaries. Even as an adult reading a classic, I may not catch the importance or symbolism in a piece of literature. In fact, I might argue that the symbolism isn’t even valid. In the end, this is an educational discussion waiting to happen.
Determine What You’re Going To Read
There are plenty of internet resources that will give you reading lists appropriate for your high school student. We suggest the following readings for students in the 9th-12th grade:
English Literature IX
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Odyssey by Homer
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
English Literature X
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
English Literature XI
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
English Literature XII
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte