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What are "must reads" for 16-18 year old boys who do not like to read, but

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How about the classic adventure stories (Kidnapped, Treasure Island, Around the World in 80 Days. . .), sci-fi (Jules Verne, 21 Balloons. . .). Mark Twain is good too. Start by looking as what they've made a zillion movies of. :o)

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First, here are a few ideas to make the reading of literature less torturous (lol):


- listening to the works read aloud as books on tape/CD

- read (and discuss!) the works aloud together "popcorn style" ("you read a page I read a page")

- sometimes shorten up the reading by substituting a short story for a novel for the same author

- a good literature guide helps you dig into literature and see more -- sort of like the reader is a detective finding clues to deeper meaning left by the author

- lay a foundation by learning literary terms and how they're used so as you read the deeper meanings jump out at you

- watch a movie of the work before or after reading the work

- if it's a written as a play, watch it rather than read it (shoot for real stage performances, but if not possible, then rent a good film version of the play)



Some helpful literature programs to consider:

- Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings (3 books of the trilogy, plus exposure to other classic works)

- Windows on the World (6 short stories, plus great info on writing about literature)

- Learning Language Arts Through Literature - Gold - American Literature (3 novels, 10 short stories, poetry)

- Lightning Literature (1 semester guides for Shakespeare, American, British, World literature)



Some guides we've especially liked or have been especially helpful:

- Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings (3 books of the trilogy, plus exposure to other classic works)

- Windows on the World (6 short stories, plus great info on writing about literature)

- Sparknotes (free online guides) =

- Garlic Press publishers lit. guides =

- The Great Books lit. guides (worldview point of view) =

- Brightest Heaven of Invention (Peter Leithart) -- helpful in-depth guide to themes in 6 Shakespeare plays

- Parallel Text Shakespeare -- book with original language on one page and modern translation next to it, plus helpful guide and workbook for finding themes and deeper meaning



Helpful literary element resources or resources for learning how to understand literature:

- Figuratively Speaking

- Walch Toolbox: Prose and Poetry

- Teaching the Classics

- Reading Strands

- The Well Educated Mind

- How to Read a Book


Below are a few ideas for specific classic works that seem to show up on the vast majority of high school reading lists. BEST of luck! Warmly, Lori D.



Ancient Literature:

- pick an ancient epic (The Iliad; The Odyssey; The Aeneid)

- pick some ancient Greek myths (short stories)

- Oedipus the King (ancient Greek play)


Medieval to Renaissance Literature:

- Beowulf (medieval epic -- novella length)

- pick a tragedy by Shakespeare (Macbeth; Hamlet; Romeo and Juliet

- pick a comedy by Shakespeare (Midsummer Night's Dream; Twelfth Night; Much Ado About Nothing; The Tempest)

- Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe (novel)


Reformation up to Modern Literature:

- Sir Walter Scott: Ivanhoe (novel)

-- OR -- Alexander Dumas: Three Musketeers (novel) -- OR -- Count of Monte Cristo (novel)

- Washington Irving: Rip Van Winkle -- OR -- Legend of Sleepy Hollow (short story)

- Nathaniel Hawthorne: Scarlett Letter (novel) -- OR -- a short story

- Jane Austen: Pride & Prejudice (novel) -- OR -- Emma

- Bronte sister: Jane Eyre (novel) -- OR -- Wuthering Heights

- Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (novel)

- Jonathon Swift: Gulliver's Travels (novel -- perhaps just read the section on Lilliput)

- Mark Twain: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (novel)

- Edgar Allen Poe: a short story

- Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol (novella) -- OR -- A Tale of Two Cities (novel)

- Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (novel)

- Robert Lewis Stevenson: Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (novella)

- Arthur Conan Doyle: a Sherlock Holmes mystery (short story)

- Oscar Wilde: The Importance of Being Earnest (play)


20th Century Literature:

- Jack London: Call of the Wild (novel) -- OR -- White Fang (novel) -- OR -- Sea Wolf (novel)

- O. Henry: Gift of the Magi (short story) -- OR -- Ranson of Red Chief (short story)

- All Quiet on the Western Front (novel)

- P.G. Wodehouse: Life With Jeeves (short story collection)

- Ernest Hemingway: Old Man and the Sea (novel)

- J.R.R. Tolkien: The Lord of the Rings (3 novel trilogy)

- G.K. Chesterton: a Father Brown mystery (short story)

- C.S. Lewis: Screwtape Letters (novel) -- OR -- Till We Have Faces (novel) -- OR -- Out of the Silent Planet (novel)

- Harper Lee: To Kill a Mockingbird (novel)

- William Golding: Lord of the Flies (novel)

- John Steinbeck: The Pearl (novella)

- Ray Bradbury: Farenheit 451 (novel)

- George Orwell: Animal Farm (novella)

- Alan Paton: Cry The Beloved Country (novel)

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I found that my son enjoys non-fiction more than fiction. I thought he would have enjoyed books similar to those his older brother liked, but he seems to enjoy philosophical type books. You might throw in a couple of that type to see what he thinks.


For my sons, we are focusing on the great books with a Biblical worldview emphasis. So he reads many of the greats, but we add in some books by Strobel (The Case for...), Josh McDowell, etc. He really enjoyed the Strobel books.

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I'm still doing a read aloud at my house to get a few extra books in. ;) They still enjoy it.

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I agree that some of the 20th century "classics" would be good. They are often shorter, with somewhat easier vocabulary and are important parts of our national consciousness - and tend to be a bit more adventurous


For a 16-18 year old, I would have him read some:


Hemingway (dh disagrees and says this might be too boring)

Jack London

maybe (maybe) Fitzgerald

George Orwell: 1984 or Animal Farm

Watership Down (it really ISN'T a children's book, even with the talking rabbits)


There is a lot of more modern "fantasy" or sci-fi that sees to really hook boys: Ray Bradbury (lots of his short story collections such as Illustrated Man, October Country - not as good, Martian Chronicles), CS Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia are a little too young for that age, I might have him read the Space trilogy - "Out of the Silent Planet," "Perelandra," "That Hideous Strength.") (again, dh - High school english teacher - disagrees and says this is going to be boring)


If he totally hates Shakespeare, for example, you can do Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare.


Try some Arthurian legends; modern versions of Greek myths.


Talk to a local high school English teacher about what they teach - and that will give you a good idea of what is expected of him, whether he wants to or not. : )

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My ds , almost 16, does not have a love for reading. I select books that appeal to his interests. A few have been

October Sky

The radioactive Boy Scout

A Hard Days Write (about what motivated each of the Beatles songs- this is a very interesting book)

A book about Michael Faraday

Undaunted Courage (about Lewis and Clark)

he also has to read book from the year of Sonlight we are doing (a mix of 7 and 100)


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I suggest you try "The Raft" by Robert Trumbull, Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein, The Dog Who Wouldn't Be by Farley Mowat, and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Learn what it is he likes or doesn't like about them. (There's a fair variety there.) Consider letting him read the Art of War by Sun Tsu and The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli. Don't go for fancy translations of either, just use Gutenburg books.


He is, after all, 15. He may be more sophisticated than his current readings suggest.



Analyze his habits. Find out if he is more interested in non-fiction than fiction. Find out if he's reading a great deal while figuring out how to build things, play games or navigate the internet. You might be surprised. Boys are wired different. Honest! They are. I don't care what anyone says.


Men and boys are often intensely interested in reading for a concrete purpose. They will often read fiction if it's very funny, or intensely adventurous. They hate sad endings!

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My kid brother who hated to read did enjoy Jack London as a teen. That is the only book I recall ever seeing him read.


My son recommends Walden by Thoreau....also historical fiction - Undaunted Courage (Lewis and Clark), To The Last Man (WWI). He also says Animal Farm is cool.

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These aren't necessarily literary, but they are boy-friendly and not total fluff, either.


Farley Mowatt has many books out, all nonfiction, some very funny. Most of his books are not for kids (but I'd avoid Owls in the Family as it's definitely for younger kids. He may not be a literary writer, but he wrote for boys and men.


Poetry Songs of the Sourdough contains that famous poem, "The Cremation of Sam McGee" among others. That ties into history of the time beautifully.


If he likes adventure, there are some autobiographies etc of some famous fur traders and explorers out there, and if you'd like a name or two other than the regular American ones everyone thinks of because they've been turned into legends, I could let you know--this would be from the 18th and 19th centuries. Not necessarily easy reads due to the language of the times, but boy stuff.

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I don't know if you're looking for something outside of literature, but if you are I really like travel essays. I'm going to introduce a few of my favorites to my older son next year when we are doing Geography unit. One of my favorites is "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. Any of his books would be a wonderful read. In addition, I like "American Shaolin" about a American college student who wanted to become a kung-fu master. They're fun books to read.

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