Classics in Class

The great thing about classic literature is that is always changing. Not only do we continually add to the classics over time, but we rediscover great books that were always great, but for a variety of reasons have been overlooked.

Great teachers make a variety of choices in their book selections. Here are just a few of the balancing acts:

  • Take a chronological approach or dive deep into a specific time period
  • Compare American and English literature
  • Survey a selection of European or literature from around the world
  • Focus on themes, such as women’s lives in fiction, the American Dream, industrialization, or war
  • Read a range of books in a specific genre or compare genres
  • Include contemporary fiction
  • Add literature, including plays and nonfiction, to classes outside of English

This is where the creativity of teachers is really impressive. It can incredibly rich to include the same text in courses every year to see how new students grapple with meanings and discover it for themselves the first time. On the other hand, teachers may find it equally satisfying to include new materials each year to keep things fresh.