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Help thinking through a homemade lit plan for 9th and 11th


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My oldest has done Windows to the World and Excellence in Literature. This is what I'm kinda wanting to do instead...

Read one book from the following categories each year:

Ancient - Odyssey, Illiad, etc

American

Brit Lit

Non Western (Asian, African)

Sci Fi or Dystopian

Play - Shakespeare or other

Poetry Unit

I feel like an entire year of ancients just seems rough. Or an entire year of Shakespeare. But, I'd like them to get exposure to all the great things. I'm wondering if my 9th grader needs more explicit writing instruction, or if we do literature analysis from a lit guide (like memoria press or glencoe) if that will be enough.

Is this a dumb idea? I've looked at so many packages put together by other people, and I'm just not loving anything.

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Woo-hoo! Go for DIY!

Other categories to consider adding to your rotating list:
- short story units
- fantasy and/or speculative fiction genre
- additional other genres for exposure: Gothic, Mystery, Western, Humor, Memoir

Note: a unit does not have to be a whole year, nor do you have to do you entire array of variety in one year, either.

I will just say that doing a "unit" can really add a lot of punch, because works start resonating/building/contrasting with one another when they are of the same genre (i.e. sci-fi or dystopia), or are from a particular culture and/or time period (American or British), or are authors who wrote contemporaneously or closely followed one another so there is  "conversing" between works. 

Or, you can hand-pick works to follow a particular theme or genre through time/culture. For example, an epic unit might include: the Odyssey or the Illiad (Ancient Greece epics) + Beowulf (Medieval Anglo-Saxon epic) + Don Quixote (Renaissance Spanish epic) Lord of the Rings (20th century British fantasy epic).

Or, go with a year of works of high interest to the student, or works you want to make sure you cover before graduation (and that might include personally meaningful or inspiring works -- not just "traditional classics").


Let us know what you want to run with -- for example, what would be your list of top 25 books you want to cover? I LOVE helping people come up DIY Literature plans! 😍

Edited by Lori D.
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On 2/4/2021 at 3:07 PM, Lori D. said:

Woo-hoo! Go for DIY!

Other categories to consider adding to your rotating list:
- short story units
- fantasy and/or speculative fiction genre
- additional other genres for exposure: Gothic, Mystery, Western, Humor, Memoir

Note: a unit does not have to be a whole year, nor do you have to do you entire array of variety in one year, either.

I will just say that doing a "unit" can really add a lot of punch, because works start resonating/building/contrasting with one another when they are of the same genre (i.e. sci-fi or dystopia), or are from a particular culture and/or time period (American or British), or are authors who wrote contemporaneously or closely followed one another so there is  "conversing" between works. 

Or, you can hand-pick works to follow a particular theme or genre through time/culture. For example, an epic unit might include: the Odyssey or the Illiad (Ancient Greece epics) + Beowulf (Medieval Anglo-Saxon epic) + Don Quixote (Renaissance Spanish epic) Lord of the Rings (20th century British fantasy epic). Or a unit that 

Or, go with a year of works of high interest to the student, or works you want to make sure you cover before graduation (and that might include personally meaningful or inspiring works -- not just "traditional classics").


Let us know what you want to run with -- for example, what would be your list of top 25 books you want to cover? I LOVE helping people come up DIY Literature plans! 😍

Ohhh... I love the idea of following a theme through time/culture. 

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Yes, go for it.  We have somewhat followed WTM four year cycle, but we always interspersed other genres or periods in as we went.  We'd do all kinds of different things.  This year my dd11th is in the Ancients officially, reading the Illiad and doing a Great Courses mythology course, but we have also read the Great Gatsby, done some American Poetry from our American Literature text, and read a book on Halloween throughout time in our state.  That was a really interesting book based on Halloween articles from the newspaper throughout each decade.  Currently we are adding in a Martin Luther King Jr. biography on top of the IIlliad.  So we have never been able to stick completely to one time period either! 

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I'm planning Ancients-Renaissance for my upcoming 9th and 10th graders - I've actually been working on my lit list this week. Ancient Lit is tough.

So far my list is:

The Kin (novel)
Last of the Sandwalkers (graphic novel)
Epic of Gilgamesh (epic)
The Illiad (epic)
Oedipus the King (play)
No Summit Out of Sight (biographical)
Think Like a Monk (self-help)
The Outlaws of Sherwood Forest (novel)
 
I don't see us getting to Hitchhiker's Guide this year, as we still have Romeo & Juliet as well as a couple more, so that may get added to next year's list as well. 
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14 hours ago, staceyobu said:

Ohhh... I love the idea of following a theme through time/culture. 

One example is Oak Meadow's 9th grade English course "The Hero's Journey" which "explores the question, "What does it mean to be a hero?" It looks at literature featuring ordinary people who find themselves in circumstances that require extraordinary acts, and examines these acts in relation to the archetypal hero's journey." It covers widely divergent books, but allows for discussion/comparison through that theme:

- House of the Scorpion (Farmer) -- U.S.; 20th century; YA futuristic dystopia
- Kidnapped (Stevenson) -- U.K., 19th century; adventure
- Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank) -- Europe; 20th century; memoir of German-Dutch teen Jewish girl
- Pygmalion (Shaw) -- U.K.; early 20th century; humorous play
- Their Eyes Were Watching God (Hurston) -- U.S.; 1930s Deep South; black perspective
- House of Light (Oliver) -- U.S.; late 20th century; spiritual poetry collection



The favorite lit. that we did in high school was a variation on following a theme through various works. We made our own "Worldviews in Classic Sci-Fi" -- so, comparing worldviews in 19th-20th century U.K. and U.S. sci-fi works:

- Frankenstein (Shelley) -- Gothic and Romanticism; ethics and science
- Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Stevenson) -- Christianity: inborn sin nature of mankind
- The Time Machine (Wells) -- evolution; socialism
- Animal Farm (Orwell) -- communism and capitalism
- The Giver (Lowry) - utopia/dystopia; utopia is at a cost to someone--here, loss of cultural memory and individual self-determinism
- Brave New World (Huxley) -- dystopia; a highly controlled "utopia" with forced social classes for economic stability
- Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury) -- apocalyptic (at the end); rise of the image + loss of literacy leads to loss of thinking
- A Canticle for Leibowitz (Miller) -- post apocalyptic; the church as the steady keeper of literacy/knowledge and balancing factor against the cyclical nature of man towards rise to power/self-destruction
- Cosmi-Comics (Calvino) -- existentialism
- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Adams) -- absurdism


Here's a quick list of just a few ideas for following the theme of Government through various works:

- 375BC = Republic (Plato) -- nonfiction; Socratic dialogue about justice, order and character of a just city-state, and just men
- 1515 = Utopia (More) -- speculative fiction; an "ideal" society that is a controlled welfare state, with early ideas of communism
- 1874 = Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain) -- realistic fiction; breakdown of post-war Southern aristocracy (pre-war, that culture mirrored the classed/monarchy of England)
- 1884 = Flatland (Abbott) -- fantasy; exploration of dimensions and societies
- 1884 = Heart of Darkness (Conrad) -- realistic fiction; how "civilized" Western colonization turns the African Congo into a nightmare
- 1945 = Animal Farm (Orwell) -- speculative fiction; communism and capitalism
- 1949 = Nineteen Eighty Four (Orwell) -- dystopia; totalitarianism
- 1954 = Lord of the Flies (Golding) -- dystopia; breakdown of "government" into primitivism/primal instinct
- 1954 = The Mouse That Roared (Wibberley) -- humorous; monarchy and capitalism in a Cold War "clash"
- 1957 = Atlas Shrugged (Rand) -- speculative fiction; capitalism
- 1972 = Watership Down (Adams) -- fantasy; monarchy, hedonism, "nanny state", totalitarian state
- 1973 = Momo (Ende) -- fantasy; capitalism and consumerism
- 1985 = Ender's Game (Card) -- sci-fi; world-wide military state; includes some great discussions on controlling government/governing 
- 2014 = The Goblin Emperor (Addison) -- fantasy; monarchy

Edited by Lori D.
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3 hours ago, historically accurate said:

I'm planning Ancients-Renaissance for my upcoming 9th and 10th graders - I've actually been working on my lit list this week. Ancient Lit is tough...

.. I don't see us getting to Hitchhiker's Guide this year... so that may get added to next year's list...

Hitchhiker's Guide is a FAST read, and could be for fun as a summer read if you don't get to it during this school year. 😉 Also, I highly recommend reading the sequel, Restaurant at the End of the Universe. I'd skip the other 3 in the series after that, as the writing goes downhill, is not as creative or funny, plus 4-letter words.

Some possible ideas for your Ancients:

MESOPOTAMIA
- Gilgamesh and Other Babylonian Tales (Westwood) -- (novella and short stories)
An abridged prose retelling, so not the full-on epic of Gilgamesh, BUT, the volume also has several ancient Mesopotamian myths/tales, including their creation and flood myths, which were very interesting to compare with Biblical versions in the book of Genesis. Since the book is out of print and expensive even used, a translation of the text of these myths can be read for FREE at the end of the Ancient History Encyclopedia article, "Enuma Elish: The Babylonian Epic of Creation".

- Till We Have Faces (Lewis) -- (novel)
Retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth, set in an ancient Mesopotamian land, with a Greek scholar who provides some Ancient Greek thinking to the mix; Christian themes. Here's a free onlne guide for help. And a 75-min. Peter Kreeft audio lecture to help with the Christian themes.

EGYPT
Tales of Ancient Egypt (Green) -- (short stories)
Nice variety of myths, the underworld/spirituality, and folktales. Abridged retellings from actual ancient sources.

GREECE
- Greek myths
 -- (short stories)
• Tanglewood Tales (Hawthorne)  <-- link to free read online with Gutenberg. 6 famous retellings of Greek myths by Nathaniel Hawthorne
• Wonderbook (Hawthorne)  <-- link to free read online with Gutenberg. 4 retellings of Greek myths + 2 fairy tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne
• Bulfinch's Mythology -- <-- link to free read online with Gutenberg. The first section "Stories of Gods and Goddesses" is Ancient Greek myths. There are 41 stories in that section; the first 26 are Greek myths; the next 7 stories are excerpts from the Illiad, Odyssey, and Aeneid, followed by 2 miscellaneous stories on Egyptian deities and the origin of mythology; the last 5 stories are eastern mythology, norse myths, and the Druids.

- Circe (Miller) -- (novel)
Contemporary novel fleshing out the life of the goddess Circe from the Odyssey. PREVIEW as there is adult content (although not graphically written). Beautiful, poetic language.

ROME
- Ides of April (Ray) -- (novel)
Historical fiction. Ancient Rome/Israel. A mystery, for grade 8 to adult, with a Christian character/theme -- but quietly done, not beating you over the head with it. I think there is enough in this one to actually do a little "digging" literature-wise. 😉 Provides a pretty accurate view of the times.

- Julius Caesar (Shakespeare) -- (play)
Maybe read an overview summary of the play and get a feel for what to "look for", and then *watch* rather than read... Here's a 1969 "Play of the Month" made-for-TV version that is free.

Edited by Lori D.
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Okay, just because this is so fun 😄 , another list of books "following a theme through time":

Coming of Age Theme:
1815 = Emma (Austen) -- U.K.
1847 = Jane Eyre (Bronte) -- U.K.
1860 = Great Expectations (Dickens) -- U.K.
1884 = Huckleberry Finn (Twain) -- U.S. -- set in the 1830s/40s
1895 = The Red Badge of Courage (Crane) -- U.S. -- set in the Civil War
1937 = Their Eyes Were Watching God (Hurston) -- U.S.
1937 = The Hobbit [or Lord of the Rings] (Tolkien) -- U.K. -- fantasy time/setting
1943 = A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Smith) -- set in 1912
1951 = Catcher in the Rye (Salinger) -- U.S.
1958 = The Once and Future King (White) -- U.K. -- King Arthur / medieval setting
1959 = A Separate Peace (Knowles) -- U.S.; set in early 1940s
1960 = To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee) -- U.S.; set in 1930s
1967 = The Chosen (Potok) -- U.S.; set in 1940s
1967 = The Outsiders (Hinton) -- U.S.
1968 = A Wizard of Earthsea (Le Guin) -- U.S.
2005 = Never Let Me Go (Ishiguro) -- U.K. / Japanese author; set in a dystopic not-too-distant future
2005 = The Book Thief (Zusak) -- Australian / German author; set in WW2
2018 = The Hate U Give (Thomas) -- U.S.

Edited by Lori D.
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