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mom4sons

High Literature which is encouraging

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My son used to love Language Arts. Within the last couple of years, I have seen a sudden turn on this subject. Right now he is reading To Kill A Mockingbird. We just reviewed Julius Caesar , which he also studied in 7th grade. We finished Our Town in December.

Our studies of American literature have been limited so I decided to compile several pieces of American Lit with a couple of Shakespeare pieces for 9th grade.

Here is the issue. I think my son finds these classics to be "depressing and discouraging". He is not enjoying all of these sad and tragic "classic" books.

Here is what I am noticing. Our reading has taken a sad turn. In 6th and 7th grade, most reading was encouraging with main characters finding worth and victory. We devoted all of 8th grade literature to poetry and short stories, Best Shorts. These stories varied but many were encouraging.

Now as we begin high school, the current literature and planned literature are sad in plot.

Can you recommend any high school literature which is encouraging to add to our reading?

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My English major DH suggests:

 

"A Conneticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" by Mark Twain and

 

"Much Ado About Nothing" or "Taming of the Shrew" for Shakespeare.

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I love Taming of the Shrew. It should be a fun read.

I'll add the Twain piece to my list also. I am not familiar with it, but I look forward to reading it.

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We enjoyed reading aloud George Elliot's Silas Marner and hope to read others of hers as well this year. And I really love Les Miserable. My kids stayed up watching the play twice over the Christmas break. Other possibilities might include non-fiction (Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, and lots of others).

 

HTH,

Lisa

 

ETA: Does he find To Kill a Mockingbird sad and depressing? It's a sad outcome in one respect, but on so many other levels, it's a story of such virtue.

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My son used to love Language Arts. Within the last couple of years, I have seen a sudden turn on this subject. Right now he is reading To Kill A Mockingbird. We just reviewed Julius Caesar , which he also studied in 7th grade. We finished Our Town in December.

Our studies of American literature have been limited so I decided to compile several pieces of American Lit with a couple of Shakespeare pieces for 9th grade.

Here is the issue. I think my son finds these classics to be "depressing and discouraging". He is not enjoying all of these sad and tragic "classic" books.

Here is what I am noticing. Our reading has taken a sad turn. In 6th and 7th grade, most reading was encouraging with main characters finding worth and victory. We devoted all of 8th grade literature to poetry and short stories, Best Shorts. These stories varied but many were encouraging.

Now as we begin high school, the current literature and planned literature are sad in plot.

Can you recommend any high school literature which is encouraging to add to our reading?

 

 

I had a similar problem when attempting to match up Literature to go with our 20th Century World History 2 years ago, and our American History last year. The plain, hard fact is that classic literature mirrors the worldview of the time in which it is written, and, frankly, the worldviews for the past 150 years have been more tragic, bleak, hopeless. So the Literature of the past 150 years tends to mirror that.

 

We countered that 2 years ago by making our own "Worldviews in Classic Sci-Fi Lit." course (a number of the works still had depressing themes and worldviews, but the sci-fi spin REALLY helped!). And then for the American Lit., I tried to include some light/fun solo reads (non-classics, just well-written works), and we did a number of classic American short stories -- some were either funny, funny/bittersweet, or were sci-fi (which somehow seems to "soften" the downer-worldview).

 

 

Before I give you book ideas, I have a few questions for you:

 

1. Could you list what books he has read so far this year?

 

2. Are you looking for works from ANY time and ANY country to add to help lighten your American Lit. this year?

 

3. Or are you looking specifically for lighter (in tone) American Lit. to add or substitute for your list this year? (And would short stories or non-fiction be okay?)

 

4. Is your DS (and yourself) specifically finding the book of To Kill a Mockingbird depressing and discouraging? While the reality of racism is very tragic and sad, and while what happens to the character of Tom is very tragic, there are many almost comic moments in the book (earlier on), and a very ennobling/sacrificial act (at the end). I guess before I can recommend any works, I need to ask -- what is his/your reaction to To Kill a Mockingbird's variety of emotions? Because I can think of a number of works that we have found ultimately very ennobling with characters showing great character and virtue -- but there is usually a tragic event, or serious portion within the plot. (But that is usually what makes the character's choice and/or character shine!)

 

5. Would you want a list of books that are just for fun for reading outside of the school classic Lit. works to lighten things up?

 

 

Warmest regards, Lori D.

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To Kill a Mockingbird has been enjoyable. My son knows the outcome so it will be no surprise. I didn't tell him about the ending. It is a classic and he has heard other kids talk about it.

I am going to look at this previous thread.

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We are going through some of the same problem. My dd always wants something in the way of comedy to read. I am always asking myself, "Is it funny?" It would be interesting to give writing assignments of lampoons or parodies of the less amusing literature. This might be a way of getting at core values without (like) getting morose or depressing. Just a thought.

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We enjoyed reading aloud George Elliot's Silas Marner and hope to read others of hers as well this year.

 

The Mill on the Floss is not. I remember Middlemarch as being dark.

 

Laura

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For American lit, you might want to try:

 

Walden / Civil Disobedience by Thoreau

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Anthem by Ayn Rand

The Country of the Pointed Firs by Sarah Jewett

Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

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I remember Middlemarch as being dark.

 

Oh, no, not at all.

 

Middlemarch has some sadness in/to it, some hard times, some serious challenges for the characters, but the overall message, the heart of the novel, is, imnsho, very uplifting... and there are some strongly redemptive elements... more subtle, less happily-ever-after (in some cases by rather a lot) than Silas Marner, but, for me at least, much more satisfying.

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Oh, no, not at all.

 

Middlemarch has some sadness in/to it, some hard times, some serious challenges for the characters, but the overall message, the heart of the novel, is, imnsho, very uplifting... and there are some strongly redemptive elements... more subtle, less happily-ever-after (in some cases by rather a lot) than Silas Marner, but, for me at least, much more satisfying.

 

I found that so painful.

 

Laura

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I am reading Middlemarch now. There is some comedy, especially about politics (seems to be patched in to the book) but, on the whole it seems to be about the question "What is an adult"? I am finding it rather grey. My dd would not enjoy it. BTW - French comedies, plays and such would be fun to do. They have provocative philosophies behind them, etc.

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AMERICAN

 

fun, light, or adventure historical fiction (for solo reading, not as classic Lit.)

- Two Little Savages (Seton)

- Mama's Bank Account (Forbes)

- Life with Father; Life with Mother (Day)

- The Great Brain (Fitzgerald)

- Little Britches (Moody)

- Summer of the Monkeys (Rawls)

- Cheaper By the Dozen (Gilbraith)

- A Year Down Yonder (Peck)

- My Side of the Mountain (George)

- The Pushcart War (Merrill)

- The Toothpaste Millionaire (Merrill)

- Maniac Magee (Spinnelli)

- The View From Saturday (Konigsburg)

 

adventure classics

- short stories: Legend of Sleepy Hollow; Rip Van Winkle (Irving)

- Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Twain)

- short story: The Most Dangerous Game (Connell)

- Call of the Wild (London)

 

inspiring or Christian themed classics

- Christy (Marshall)

- To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee)

- I Heard the Owl Call My Name (Craven) -- bittersweet ending

- The Tombs of Atuan (LeGuin) -- bittersweet ending

- autobiography: Brutchko (Olson)

 

humorous classics

- short story: The Luck of Roaring Camp (Harte) -- bittersweet ending

- short story: Celebrated Jumping Frog (Mark Twain)

- short story: Bride Comes to Yellow Sky (Crane) -- bittersweet ending

- short story: Gift of the Magi (Henry) -- bittersweet ending

- short story: Ransom of Red Chief (Henry)

- short story: Thank You Ma'am (Hughes) -- bittersweet ending

- short story: The Catbird Seat (Thurber)

 

 

BRITISH

 

chivalry themed classics

- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

- Canterbury Tales: The Knight's Tale (Chaucer) -- (the Nun's Priest's Tale and the Pardoner's Tale are fables with positive morals)

- Beowulf

 

adventure classics

- Ivanhoe (Scott)

- The Sword in the Stone (White)

- Oliver Twist (Dickens)

- Treasure Island (Stevenson) -- tinged with boy losing his innocence in experiencing deceit and treachery of pirates

- The Jungle Book (Kipling)

- short story: Rikki Tikki Tavi (Kipling)

- short stories: Sherlock Holmes mysteries (Doyle)

- Peter Pan (Barrie) -- ending is bittersweet

- The Hobbit (Tolkien)

- Watership Down (Adams) -- some personal sacrifices to save others

 

positive themed classics

- A Christmas Carol (Dickens)

- David Copperfield (Dickens) -- some personal losses throughout, but ends well

- A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens) -- noble self sacrifice; involves horror and tragedy of French revolution

- play: Pygmalion (Shaw) -- play on which the movie "My Fair Lady" was based

 

inspiring, redemptive, or Christian themed classics

- Paradise Lost (Milton)

- Silas Marner (Eliot)

- short stories: The Golden Key; The Light Princess (MacDonald)

- The Princess and the Goblins; The Princess and Curdie (MacDonald)

- short stories: Father Brown mysteries (Chesterton)

- The Man Who Was Thursday (Chesterton)

- Lord of the Rings (trilogy) (Tolkien)

- short stories: Leaf by Niggle; Smith of Wooten Major (Tolkien

- Out of the Silent Planet (Lewis)

- Perelandra (Lewis)

 

playful or humorous classics

- short story: Farmer Giles of Ham (Tolkien)

- plays: Much Ado About Nothing; Midsummer Night's Dream; Twelfth Night (Shakespeare)

- Pride and Prejudice (Austen)

- Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (Carroll)

- Through the Looking Glass (Carroll)

- Just So Stories (Kipling)

- play: Importance of Being Earnest (Wilde)

- Life With Jeeves (Wodehouse)

- Three Men in a Boat (Jerome)

- My Family and Other Animals (Durrell)

- All Creatures Great and Small (Herriot)

 

 

EUROPEAN

 

adventure themed classics

- Around the World in 80 Days (Verne)

- 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Verne)

- Journey to the Center of the Earth (Verne)

- Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas)

- The Scarlet Pimpernel (Orczy)

 

inspiring/Christian themed classics

- autobiography: God's Smuggler (Andrew)

- autobiography: The Hiding Place; Tramp for the Lord (tenBoom)

 

classics with exposure to other cultures

- A Day of Pleasure (Singer)

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Yeh, I recently got burnt out studying lit, even short stories. I'm doing the KJV Bible as lit and using Susan Halls books that teach literary devices using picture storybooks.

 

I never did high school lit with my boys. They both took a short world lit survey course with American School, but otherwise they just used biographies, the KJV and non fiction for reading books, and they both did just fine at the CC.

 

When I got burnt and toasty, I thought about what had worked with my boys and decided to go back to that, at least for now, and to add in the picture storybooks for older students studies.

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Lori, I absolutely love your lists and helpful posts. Thank you :grouphug:. This is a wonderful thread and I'm taking notes. :)

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My family adores this book. Just be aware that there are two bits that are difficult. He doesn't dwell on them, but they are there. As they go floating down the river, they run across a dead dog, and they run across the body of a girl who committed suicide. My oversensitive family surprisingly did not have trouble with either of these, so you might not, either, but you should be aware of both. The suicide is dealt with sympathetically. The dog is just there and precipitates some funny events.

 

There are sad parts in All Creatures Great And Small, too. Again, my oversensitive family survived them and loved the book, but yours may be different. The book is about a vet and he is not always able to save the animals he treats, and sometimes there are people who love those animals.

 

-Nan

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I just thought of a novella that we read quite a while ago that was called Pobby and Dignan. It is chalkful of literary devices and has a really uplifting ending. Written from a boy's point of view, Australian.

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