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What do you consider Early American History literature must reads for highschool?

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Well, I think everyone's "must read" list is a bit different. But... we did American History and American Lit. last year. The HISTORY "must reads" for us were out the book of primary source documents in the Notgrass American History, while for LIT must reads, we did a lot of short stories so we could cover more authors -- we enjoyed quite a few of those. (In one of the threads below is our Amer. Lit. list from last year.)


I finally decided to count things like speeches, documents, essays, and autobiographies toward the American history credit; and also counted the solo historical fiction and non-ficition works towards the history credit. That way, we were able to have a pretty big "lit." list, with novels, novellas, short stories, and poetry. ;)


In my planning, it took all summer to narrow down our American Lit. list, trying to juggle:

- traditional "big classics" and authors (To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, Our Town, Death of a Salesman, Twain, Hemingway, Hawthorne, Poe, Melville, etc.)

- variety of types of works (novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, essays, speechs, autobiographies, plays, etc.)

- works throughout the time-span of our history coverage (1600-2000)

- works by women and ethnic/minorities (Cather, Hurston, Potok, Maugham, etc.)

- not classics, but worthwhile works about women and/or ethnic/minorities -- some below high school reading level (Education of Little Tree; Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry; I Heard the Owl Call My Name; etc.)

- not classics, but thought-provoking works (such as The Given; The Day They Arrested the Book; etc.)

- lighter historical fiction (Cheaper by the Dozen; Mama's Bank Account; etc.)



In case it helps, below are links to past threads on this topic, and below that are lists of the usual classic American works covered in high school. BEST of luck whittling it all down to make your own "must read" list! Warmest regards, Lori D.



Must read American Lit

What are your must reads for American Literature

What would you include in an American Literature course

Nine essential American novels; what's on your list

Suggestions for 9th grade American lit books

Looking for enjoyable American Lit



Here's a list from About.com of the 10 most frequently taught American works:

1. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain)

2. The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne)

3. To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee)

4. The Red Badge of Courage (Crane)

5. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)

6. The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)

7. Call of the Wild (London)

8. Invisible Man (Ellison)

9. A Farewell to Arms (Hemingway)

10. Farenheit 451 (Bradbury)



Here are American works from the College Board website's "101 great books recommended reading list for students who are college bound"


Cather, Willa - Death Comes for the Archbishop

Cooper, James Fenimore - The Last of the Mohicans

Crane, Stephen - The Red Badge of Courage

Douglass, Frederick - Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Ellison, Ralph - Invisible Man

Emerson, Ralph Waldo - Selected Essays

Faulkner, William - As I Lay Dying

Faulkner, William - The Sound and the Fury

Fitzgerald, F. Scott - The Great Gatsby

Hawthorne, Nathaniel - The Scarlet Letter

Heller, Joseph - Catch-22

Hemingway, Ernest - A Farewell to Arms

Hurston, Zora Neale - Their Eyes Were Watching God

Lee, Harper - To Kill a Mockingbird

Lewis, Sinclair - Babbitt

London, Jack - The Call of the Wild

Melville, Herman - Bartleby the Scrivener

Melville, Herman - Moby Dick

Miller, Arthur - The Crucible

Morrison, Toni - Beloved

O'Connor, Flannery - A Good Man Is Hard to Find

O'Neill, Eugene - Long Day's Journey into Night

Plath, Sylvia - The Bell Jar

Poe, Edgar Allan - Selected Tales

Salinger, J.D. - The Catcher in the Rye

Steinbeck, John - The Grapes of Wrath

Stowe, Harriet Beecher - Uncle Tom's Cabin

Thoreau, Henry David - Walden

Twain, Mark - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. - Slaughterhouse-Five

Walker, Alice - The Color Purple

Wharton, Edith - The House of Mirth

Whitman, Walt - Leaves of Grass

Williams, Tennessee - The Glass Menagerie

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What early american lit. selections have you and/or your student enjoyed and learned from the most?



PS -- and in specific answer to your question:


Neither of our DSs really cared for early American works, except for Edgar Allen Poe. They esp. loved Poe's poem The Raven -- and they usually really don't like poetry! (Which is why, while I enjoyed some of the poems by Bradstreet, Wheatly, Dickinson, and Longfellow, they were rather ho-hum about it.) I found some of the famous speeches to be very moving and inspiring -- esp. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Second Inaugural Address.


They said they didn't mind The Scarlet Letter -- in fact they thought it had a really interesting theme -- but they felt really bogged down by the extremely long "Custom House" prologue to the work, and by the language style/sentence structure. They didn't seem to mind Irving's 2 short stories of Rip Van Winkle and Legend of Sleepy Hallow. They absolutely loathed Melville, and the essays by Emerson and Thoreau.


Again, maybe it's just boys, but our DSs more endured rather than enjoyed early American lit. selections. (In contrast, they really enjoyed more modern American works such as Call of the Wild, The Great Gatsby, The Old Man and the Sea, Farenheit 451, and most of the 20th century short stories we did.) At that point, they were really seeing various worldviews and were really enjoying discussing them.


Wish that could sound more positive and encouraging about early Amer. lit, but I'm guessing you'd prefer to hear an honest answer... BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.

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