Teaching & Reading

We know a lot of teachers are looking for great classics to teach - we're here for you!

So many of us learned to love reading the classics from that one special teacher in their life.


Boundary Bay & Classics

The Great Gatsby

By Gemma Morales | May 23, 2024

Notes by Erika Assabayeva


Living through a global pandemic for two years certainly wasn’t the way many of us envisioned experiencing the 21st-century equivalent of the Roaring Twenties. Instead of lively social gatherings and exuberant celebrations, our only “roar” came through binge-watching Tiger King.

However, amidst the challenges of isolation, I found solace in revisiting a beloved classic – The Great Gatsby (many would recognize it from the iconic film adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio and featuring a soundtrack by Lana Del Rey).

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece captures the essence and the disillusionment of the Jazz Age with its blend of romance, extravagance, and moral decay. Set against the backdrop of 1920s America, the novel centers around the mysterious Jay Gatsby and his relentless pursuit of the American Dream in hopes of winning the heart of Daisy Buchanan, a married socialite.

Gatsby’s enigmatic past is intricately intertwined with Daisy’s, and his extravagant parties serve as both a spectacle and a desperate attempt to draw her closer. Fitzgerald masterfully explores themes of love, wealth, and the hollowness of materialism through Gatsby’s lavish lifestyle and his unwavering quest to reclaim Daisy’s affections.

As I immersed myself in the pages of The Great Gatsby during those challenging times, I found its timeless commentary on human longing and the pursuit of fulfillment hitting particularly close to my heart. Despite the vast differences between our world and that of the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald’s portrayal of the complexities of the human experience remains as relevant and captivating as ever. So, if you haven’t had a chance to read The Great Gatsby, take the opportunity to do so before the twenties are over and see if you can find the similarities between the Jazz Age of the twentieth century and the way our society is now compensating for the time lost during the pandemic.

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Classics in Class

By Boundary Bay Classics Editors | July 21, 2021

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.

Summer is for Shakespeare

By Boundary Bay Classics Editors | July 14, 2021

Reading Shakespeare goes hand in hand with summer. Plays are short, for one thing, and it’s also the season of festivals and outdoor theatre events. It’s easy to brush up on plot and characters before heading to the park with your picnic and low-backed chairs.

The pressure is entirely off when reading Shakespeare on your own time. Maybe you are a fan of Shakespeare Unlimited, the fabulously rich and entertaining podcast from the Folger Library. Or, maybe you finished a novel, like recent bestseller and critical success Hamnet, or nonfiction that explores the period. There is no shortage of inspiration to read or re-read the words of the Bard himself.

This summer, try a new favorite, such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Twelfth Night. Twelfth Night has both mistaken identities and twins. Twins were more than a convenient plot device for Shakespeare, and coming just a few years after his own son, a twin, had died, it is especially poignant to see Sebastian is discovered to be alive and the twins reunited.

It’s always worth dipping into to Shakespeare. The language is unfamiliar and there is a heavy expectation around it, but let yourself off the hook and instead get a little more acquainted with the story, rather than make a study of it.

Think about it this way, the plays can be even funnier, even scarier, or even more meaningful with a low stakes summer re-read of your favorite Shakespeare play.