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Topic: Novels for teaching in HS Honors Literature classes

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Subject: Novels for teaching in HS Honors Literature classes
Date Posted: 4/20/2008 8:40 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2007
Posts: 2
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I'm looking for some suggestions for different novels for HS Honors Literature classes.  I have been teaching for 20 years and I am looking for something new to use in the classroom.  My students always like something a little controversial.  Any suggestions?

Subject: Some novels...
Date Posted: 4/23/2008 6:21 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 9
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I was wondering if you've tried your students on a classic Fahrenheit 451 or any of Ray Bradbury's other novels?  I use Fahrenheit 451 for my reading class at the community college.   Government control and conspiracies are hot topics nowadays, and this novel fits in very well.  No doubt you've done Watership Down, but Richard Adams' The Plague Dogs is another good one...controversial issues include research done using animals and the reality of what happens to domesticated animals that are dumped to fend for themselves.

I hope, along with reading and discussing the novels in your classes, that you also have your students writing essays and reviews about them.  I teach a variety of English courses at the college, including developmental English.  Sadly, I have a number of students every semester who have been in an honors English class in high school where they read and talked about lots of things but wrote nothing. Then they graduate, come to the college, get a low score on their assessment tests and wonder why they are in a "remedial" writing class.

(I'm in NC where, unfortunately, public school education is too often below par, especially in many of the poorer counties. )

Subject: preview copies
Date Posted: 4/24/2008 11:52 AM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2006
Posts: 608
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High School Teachers @ Random House [Highschoolteachers@info.randomhouse.com]

Random House will send a free examination copy to you at your school address for any of their books you want to consider.

Date Posted: 4/27/2008 4:02 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
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I agree with Ree, "Fahrenheit 451" is a wonderful book. I just taught it this Spring. Bradbury is a very talented writer.

Date Posted: 5/2/2008 1:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 5,297
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The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Date Posted: 5/3/2008 1:15 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2006
Posts: 830
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The Book Thief by Marcus ?

Advertised as YA, it was a difficult read for me in the beginning as an adult.  It deals with Nazi Germany and the narrator is death.  Sometimes it was difficult to tell who was narrating and there is lots to discuss!


Subject: How about Persepolis?
Date Posted: 5/4/2008 7:19 PM ET
Member Since: 9/16/2007
Posts: 63
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have taught Persepolis to high school juniors, usually after we have done "The Crucible" and 1984.  It is a modern graphic novel about a girl's life in Iran--so lots of contemporary issues, yet it does tie nicely into classic texts and themes.  The students like it because reads like a comic, but has a strong message.  It is rather controversial as well due to the nature of some of the images.

Last Edited on: 5/4/08 7:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/12/2008 9:43 AM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2005
Posts: 76
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I was going to recommend The Handmaid's Tale, but someone beat me to it - so I'll second that recommendation.

What about Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis? It's a retelling (although completely different) of the Cupid and Psyche story and brings forth quite a bit to discuss (it's a journey of self-discovery for the main character).

Date Posted: 5/13/2008 10:58 PM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2006
Posts: 7
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Ditto on Handmaid's Tale.  Also, what about Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card?  I just read this with my adult book club; many of us had never read it.  Great book for boys; I find boys are harder to find good reads for than girls; I think girls will enjoy this book, too.  I really did.

You may have done Ender's Game already; it is dubbed as the science fiction book for those who do not like sci fi.  I think this puts it aptly.  Many in our book club didn't read this, or even try to; those who did surprised themselves by loving this book.


Ann E.

Date Posted: 5/19/2008 7:35 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2008
Posts: 32
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I've always enjoyed teaching Lord of the Flies.  There are a ton of fun activities you can do with it.  Also, it can inspire some really interesting discussion.  Of course, this could be considered an old stand by.  Are you looking for something that is more recent or more obscure?

Date Posted: 6/4/2008 2:44 AM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 14,634
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I'm not a teacher but my freshman year of college, back in '85! we read 'My Name is Asher Lev' and I loved that book! I also liked Fahrenheit 451 in my sr high school but hated hated hated having to read 1984, Animal Farm, and Lord of the Flies. Of course that may be because there wasn't the explanation like we got in jr english from a different teacher. That sure made a difference, esp since cliff notes were frowned on and, well, you didn't dare show up to class with cliff notes...

Date Posted: 6/14/2008 11:51 PM ET
Member Since: 6/10/2006
Posts: 861
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Next year my son's 11th grade honors class has to read:

Pride and Prejudice

Brave New World


Travels With My Aunt


The Crucible

The Oedipus Cycle

Crime and Punishment

The Divine Comedy

Date Posted: 6/15/2008 12:47 PM ET
Member Since: 3/30/2008
Posts: 1
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My husband teachers AP Lit, and he has an assignment using a hypothetical AP reading list for the year 2050.  These are some of the books he has on there, which tend not to be assigned, but are still really interesting for the students.  Hope this helps.  Also, he teaches Dracula in the beginning of the year, and the students LOVE it!

Vernon God Little (DBC Pierre)

Handmaid's Tale (Margaret Atwood)

White Teeth (Zadie Smith)

The Woman Who Walked into Doors; The Van; Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha (all by Roddy Doyle)

Reservation Blues (Sherman Alexie)

White Oleander (Janet Fitch)

The Gathering (Anne Enright)

The Road (Cormac McCarthy)


Date Posted: 7/12/2008 8:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2008
Posts: 1,181
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I know some schools have their seniors read Brave New World, alone, or in concert with, 1984. When I student taught, I had to do some of BNV -- very strange, creepy, book, and way too explicit for my tastes, but it is being taught.

I also had to teach The Stranger, by Camus. Not for everyone, but an Honors section might find it to be fodder for good discussion and writing prompts!

Good luck in finding new selections for your students.

Subject: :)
Date Posted: 7/15/2008 1:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2008
Posts: 3
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Handmaid's Tale was awesome....I student taught in a 10th grade honors class. Here are some of the other novels the teacher used that semester.

Tale of Two Cities
The Bluest Eye
Cry, The Beloved Country
Fahrenheit 451

I'm sure you could also do Huck Finn.

Date Posted: 7/18/2008 10:21 AM ET
Member Since: 11/21/2007
Posts: 7,642
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This novel may be too "easy" for a HS honors class because it is geared toward teens, but have you heard about After  by Francine Prose? Short summary from me: The Columbine massacre meets George Orwell's 1984.

 From the dust Jacket: The shootings at Pleasant Valley were 50 miles away, but at Central High a grief and crisis counselor is hired, security is increased, and privleges are being taken away.

No one knows why.

If you break the new rules the punishment is severe. And the rules keep changing every day.

School feels like a prison.

It is for their protection, yet fifteen-year-old Tom Bishop and his friends learn that things are far more sinister than they seem. Students and teachers begin disappearing.

There's no way to stop it.

Nationally best-selling and acclaimed author Francine Prose has written a haunting novel about what happens when protection goes too far and what it means to have freedom extinguished - in the name of safety.

Last Edited on: 7/18/08 10:21 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Subject: Honors Lit
Date Posted: 7/27/2008 9:01 AM ET
Member Since: 7/27/2008
Posts: 3
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I teach AP Literature, and my students' favorite book (every year!) is The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien.  It has some pretty graphic violence, but my students find it fascinating.  It's about the experience of enlisted men in Vietnam.  I teach near a rather large Army base, and my students find the book touches home for many of them.  It's a tough book to teach with complex POV issues and deep discussion of truth and story telling, but well worth it.

Subject: Honors Lit Suggestions
Date Posted: 7/28/2008 6:53 PM ET
Member Since: 7/17/2008
Posts: 1
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I would also like to recommend Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. I first read this book in college, and I have since taught it in my Composition I course. It's really a hybrid between a collection of short stories and a novel. As the above poster mentions, it is difficult to teach. Some students love it, and some just don't get it at all. However, it does provide a lot of worthwhile discussion topics, especially with the current war in Iraq.

My other suggestion would be Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina. I've never taught this one, but the novel is one of my favorites. If you want to get into a serious discussion about class and gender, it's a good one.

Date Posted: 8/6/2008 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2008
Posts: 71
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If your classs likes controversial topics, try My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Piccolt. I'm not sure how you feel about using a book by a "popular" author, but this novel is particularly deep, and literary techniques found in classics are present. I read it in high school myself, and found it engaging - and not just for the girls.

I haven't posted this book on my shelf because I wasn't sure if I was ready to part with it yet, but I will send it to you if you'd like.

Last Edited on: 8/6/08 7:22 PM ET - Total times edited: 1