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Three Books for 8th Grade English

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Murder on the Orient Express - I love Agatha Christie's intelligent writing.  No smut, no junk, not depressing.

The Importance of Being Earnest  - Hilarious! Most 8th graders will appreciate the type of humor, I think.

Around the World in 80 Days or Journey to the Center of the Earth - I love the vocabulary and intelligent writing. 

The Hobbit - Why not?

I really like to avoid depressing books in 8th grade.  It's typically a hard time emotionally.


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Posted (edited)

Have you heard of Michael Dirda's  “The Knowledge Most Worth Having”


Dirda’s criterion—the test he uses in deciding which authors and which works are most rewarding for the reader who would attain a knowledge of the world’s literature—is simple. Devote yourself to those works “that later authors regularly build on, allude to, work against.”  Dirda does not elaborate on the principle, except to bestow a name on works that meet this condition; they are “the great patterning works.” ...

Before I reveal the list, I want to ask, again, what is the point of the list? It is to commend works with the potential to crack open the world of great literature. These works have this power because other authors have built on them, alluded to them, and worked against them.

Edited by Hunter
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Much Ado About Nothing: This is a fantastic springboard for a discussion about rumors.

Ender's Game: You can have a discussion about children's intelligence not being respected by most adults, but also the difference between intelligence and wisdom. I don't think kids at this age understand why their thoughts get so frequently dismissed by adults, and adults seldom take the time to explain it to them.

For the third book, I might do a Sherlock Holmes, discuss forensics (and how literature influences science), and maybe even watch an episode of a tv show with modern forensics. I might read an Agatha Christie short story as well and have a good discussion about foreshadowing vs red herrings. I think it would be fun to let 8th graders take a stab at writing mysteries and, if time allowed, have peer feedback before and after the story endings are written.


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Posted (edited)

In case others are following this thread, and don't see that there is a X-post on the Logic Board, here are some to f the ideas from that X-post:

The Outsiders, The Yearling, The Giver

Maybe Watership Down, Anne of Green Gables, and Twelfth Night?

 if looking for traditional classics, I would select 3 from the following traditional classics that are frequently done in 8th grade:
- The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Twain) -- novel
- To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee) -- novel
- The Outsiders (Hinton) -- short novel
- Call of the Wild (London) -- novella
- The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway) -- novella
- Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury) -- longer novella
- A Christmas Carol (Dickens) -- longer novella
- Jane Eyre (Bronte) -- novel
- Animal Farm (Orwell) -- short novella
- something by HG Wells (The Invisible Man, The Time Machine, War of the Worlds) -- longer novella to shorter novel
- something by Shakespeare -- play

And if strong readers/discussers, then maybe expand to include 1 or more traditional classics done by 9th graders:
- The Odyssey (Homer) -- long epic in translation
- Beowulf (anonymous) -- novella-length epic poem in translation
- Great Expectations (Dickens) -- novel
- Frankenstein (Shelley), paired with Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Stevenson) -- shorter novel + longer novella
- Things Fall Apart (Achebe) -- novel

Other works to consider including:
- a unit of classic short stories (very useful for building literary analysis and discussion skills)
- a highly discussion-able contemporary YA book
- a highly discussion-able contemporary nonfiction book
- middle-school level good lit. from World authors

Edited by Lori D.
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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Well... You know you need to tell us what the final decision is... 😉

I was making recommendations to my son’s English teacher  for next year. When I asked for the reading list, she said it was still in process and what were three books I’d like to have the class read. 

Very hard to choose only three!

I picked Treasure Island, To Kill a Mockingbird, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I also put in a vote for something fantasy - The Hobbit or A Wrinkle in Time.

I think Animal Farm was next on my list bc I know my Ds would enjoy it. 

Edited by ScoutTN
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4 hours ago, lmrich said:

Just FYI - Animal Farm was voted as #1 in my middle school lit class 

My kids loved Animal Farm! They still quote it!

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To Kill a Mockingbird
The Hunger Games (yes, even in an academically rigorous school...that series has so much depth even if you can only do the first one).
The Hobbit  or My Side of the Mountain (to balance out the other two with something more uplifting). 

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