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Literature course to line up with US Government / Civics

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I need to add a half credit literature course to my 10th grade dd's already overscheduled year. We will spread it out and do a half credit over a full year.


She is studying US Government for history. We chose it because she is very interested in the topic. She will be covering all of the basic texts through the history course (all major documents and speeches, Common Sense, Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, Democracy in America, etc.)


This is not an area that has ever interested me. I took US Government as a summer course myself because I heard it was easier and I knew it was shorter.


I need to put together a short lit course and would appreciate some suggestions. She prefers non-fiction. Maybe some biographies? She is a very slow reader, but her comprehension is very good. She doesn't have any time and I am only adding this class because she only earned a half credit of English her 9th grade year as well. English is a strong area for her and she has already tested well, so I am not worried about that. We just need to check a box and make it as interesting and painless as possible.




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Okay, you asked for non-fiction, BUT… Honestly, the Literature portion of a high school English is largely about fiction, not non-fiction, as the two types of works really are not at all discussed and analyzed in the same way. So here are ideas of great fiction works (and one autobiography) that would fit in with a Gov't class:


Animal Farm (George Orwell)

Fiction. Very short, quick read but with lots to discuss about socialism, communism, and capitalism.


Watership Down (Richard Adams)

Great fiction work to read along with Gov't is as different types of government are encountered along the way of the quest for a new homeland.


1984 (George Orwell)

Fiction. Tough/bleak dystopia of a totalitarian state. (Some "lighter" dystopias that may be of interest if trying to keep your student's schedule from being heavy/bleak: The Giver; The Hunger Games (just do book 1)…)


Utopia (Thomas More)

Fiction. You could just go with excerpts, if desired, as the work was published in the early 16th century, so not as readily-accessible language. However, it's a fascinating work, as we get our modern ideas of utopia and dystopia from this work, and it was More's quiet little commentary on the rigid and authoritarian British government of the time -- a time in which not being 110% support of the monarchy and the king's particular governmental policies could get you killed quite easily.


The Day They Came to Arrest the Book (Nat Hentoff)

YA fiction. A fun, lighter, quick read and not a traditional "classic of literature", but great discussion on the topic of censorship of Huckleberry Finn in a U.S. high school.


The Pushcart War (Jean Merrill)

YA fiction. A fun, light/quick read and not a traditional "classic of literature", but a great discussion on the process of grassroots organization to bring about change (pushcart peddlers of New York City take on use of streets by delivery trucks that block the streets). 


Cry, the Beloved Country (Alan Paton)

Fiction. South Africa of the 1950s, and the inflexibility of the racist government and legal system, and how crushing that can be people and society. Powerful moment of humility, forgiveness and restoration by individuals that transcends the rigid governmental structure.


Black Like Me (John Griffin)

Non-fiction. Autobiographical account of the white author who disguised himself as black and lived and traveled in the Deep South of the late 1950s, just before Civil Rights. It gives you a clear picture of the social, economic, and political oppression of blacks sanctioned by governmental policies and Supreme Court rulings, before the Civil Rights movement pressed for political/legal reforms.


Sophie's World (Jostein Gaarder)

Fiction, but really more like a light fiction veneer over short sketches of the history of philosophical movements. (Okay, it is actually much more interesting than what it sounds like from my description…  :laugh: )



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Thanks for all of the suggestions. I am going to sit down with my dd this afternoon and work out a plan for her literature course.


And… did you want Literature that would fit in with DD's interest in Government?

Or is there some other area that would be of interest to her?

Or some works that you esp. wanted to make sure she read by graduation?

Or, as previous poster suggested, a focus on poetry, plays, or short stories?


Because we can always help generate more ideas for you guys to choose from!  :laugh:

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Inherit the Wind (about the Scopes Trial)?

While I realize most people know the difference between historical fiction and fact, Inherit the Wind is a VERY fictionalized account of the Scopes Trial. Generally, historical fiction's value is to make the reader sympathetic to the period. Inherit the Wind is a hyped mockery of the town and the trial. In the very least, if you find the play or movie necessary, compare it to the facts of what actually happened. Anything by Dr. Cornelius is likely well researched, as he specialized in the history of the case. [/off soapbox]


Signed a resident of Dayton

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  • 3 weeks later...

Maybe this will help, if you are still looking for ideas?


I designed an English Course to go along with US Government this year. My daughter struggles academically so it is not too heavy. We are using one of these books - And Justice for All, though I could have chosen any of them. We are also using Great Books 1


The readings in these books are a good mix of different types of non-fiction with a few short stories and poems and the themes will mesh well with the Government and Economics she needs to take. The discussion questions and writing assignments are just about right for her.


I have added a few regular books. I gave her a list of several (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, The Trial, The Communist Manifesto, Nickeled and Dimed in America,etc.) and told her that she would have to read any 4 of them over the school year. She will also write 2 longer papers using Schaum's Guide to writing research papers. I hope it will be a good year!

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