Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: Are these novels level-appropriate for high school seniors?

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    1

    Are these novels level-appropriate for high school seniors?

    It's my first time teaching a Lit course for a high school and they're letting me choose the books (3 or 4). Of course, it depends on the school and the level of the students, but in general, could I get away with the books on this list? (In terms of complexity, subject matter, and getting my students' interest.) My preference is for the first 3 or 4.

    Beloved - Toni Morrison
    The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
    Pale Fire - Vladmir Nabokov
    The Day of the Locust - Nathanael West
    A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - James Joyce
    (if not Pale Fire) Lolita - Navokov
    Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
    Ragtime - EL Doctorow
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime - Mark Hadon

    I also welcome your suggestions. I wanted to choose some alternatives to the usual (Gatsby, Of Mice and Men, etc).
    Last edited by sudomucho; 04-18-2016 at 09:13 AM.

  2. #2
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Reading, England
    Posts
    2,069
    The only one of those that I've read is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It is a good story. I enjoyed reading it. It is not a challenging read.

    Edit: I have read Lolita too. This is rather a challenging read. It is quite long. It has long, complex sentences. I lost the thread in the third part of the book, which I think is the least good part of it anyway. It has one or two rude bits, but not excessively so. Overall, I think this is for advanced readers.
    Last edited by kev67; 04-19-2016 at 09:50 AM.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
    Charles Dickens, by George Orwell

  3. #3
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Beyond nowhere
    Posts
    5,767
    The selection in itself is interesting but how old are your students?
    Maybe it is an good idea to let them talk in the first class about what they have read so far and what they would like to read. That might give you a clue.
    Last edited by Danik 2016; 04-18-2016 at 02:45 PM.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  4. #4
    Registered User bounty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    2,201
    sudo---if I can go off in a slightly different direction first?

    when you say "get away with"---can you elaborate as to from what perspective?

    and I think most importantly---assuming "appropriateness", what are you hoping for for the students? that is, what is the major purpose you see in literature by which reading it is warranted?

    lastly, when you say "grade level appropriate", to do you mean that from an intellectual reading level, or a moral development one?

    and I echo danik's question---being that there's such a difference between freshmen and seniors.

  5. #5
    Registered User Iain Sparrow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    xxxxx
    Posts
    548
    The Handmaid's Tale is a good choice, it makes for some interesting discussion.
    Except for Lolita the rest are liable to bore a high schooler to tears. Please don't force kids to read James Joyce, it's cruel.

    If you add Lolita to the mix, perhaps consider slipping into the character of Humbert... and have one of your female students stay after class for some extra credit. If you know what I mean.

  6. #6
    Registered User mona amon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    India
    Posts
    1,502
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime is age appropriate by any standard and a very endearing book, so I highly recommend it, especially if the joy of reading is what you are after.

    Lolita - hmm. It is a lot more challenging, and it's a naughty book, but I'm thinking it may be a good idea. I read it for the first time when I was about two years older than Dolores Haze and I liked it but I'm not sure I really got it. I felt no empathy for the poor girl and must have missed all the sophisticated jokes and the beauty of the prose. Come to think of it I didn't even think it was 'naughty' - at that age kids have read far worse. And to disagree with Iain, I think it is quite boring for a high schooler - all those highway/motel bits where nothing much happens. But still I think it is an interesting choice.
    Exit, pursued by a bear.

  7. #7
    Registered User fajfall's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Adelaide
    Posts
    76
    I hated Lit classes all through high school, as I was too cool for that. Some cool kids in the other lit class were learning a strange sounding book called Nineteen Eighty-Four and saying it was pretty creepy and interesting. I might have liked it even with my bad attitude back then. They also did Lord of the Flies, which was fortunate for them as kids can relate to it and they watched the movie in class after finishing the book. I can't remember any books my class read until senior high. Shakespeare was so boring in tenth grade.

    Animal Farm is easy to read and so interesting. I'd choose Orwell, probably preceded with Christopher Hitchens' Why Orwell Matters lecture on YouTube.

  8. #8
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Posts
    1
    Novels organize us culturally and emotionally. They make life meaningful and manageable, but they do even more. Reading novels offers us the opportunity to develop wisdom. Stories stretch our minds and help to grow our moral capacity.

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    89
    Why don't the 'classics', aside from Shakespeare get assigned in high school anymore? My mother would talk about getting assigned Great Expectations and Pride and Prejudice in high school, but you never hear of that kind of stuff being assigned on the secondary level anymore. With that said, I remember reading Notes From Underground, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, The Metamorphosis, as well as a few of the stories friom Joyce's Dubliners across 11th and 12th grade, so there's that. I read 1984, but in history class, not in English.

  10. #10
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    5,849
    And even the Shakespeare's dumbed down for them.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  11. #11
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    89
    I never performed staggeringly well in high school English class, and I'm not sure why. Was I just thick and am I now digging into "serious" literature to compensate for a perceived lack of intellectual acumen on my part? Or was I bored without realizing it? Does this boredom that highly intelligent students often feel in the K-12 classroom often manifest itself on a subconscious level? When I was in high school, there were "smart" people with straight As and near perfect SAT scores who would always act resentful if they saw someone they didn't perceive as "smart" trying to read Kafka or whoever as if they felt that person was a 'poseur' who was overcompensating for lack of natural intelligence. I got a 1990/2400 on the SAT by the way, so not bad but not Nobel laureate material either. Now as much as people love to say that the greatest minds often struggled academically that doesn't change the fact that plenty of brilliant people did in fact attend elite academic institutions, including Chomsky, Richard Feynman, T.S. Eliot, Jean-Paul Sartre, as well as just about every 20th century French philosopher. So most intellectually brilliant people do in fact succeed in school. The B-student autodidact is unfortunately more the exception to the rule I think.
    Last edited by mande2013; 07-13-2016 at 10:14 AM.

  12. #12
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    5,849
    Quote Originally Posted by mande2013 View Post
    When I was in high school, there were "smart" people with straight As and near perfect SAT scores who would always act resentful if they saw someone they didn't perceive as "smart" trying to read Kafka or whoever as if they felt that person was a 'poseur' who was overcompensating for lack of natural intelligence.
    Well, depending on where and when you went to school, the teachers may have encouraged that sort of frightened snobbery in children. Why teach a large group (some of whom are genuinely over their heads) when it's less challenging to teach only a few? I found Arthur Conan Doyle in Middle School and had graduated to Dickens and Homer (independent of classes) by High School. I had an amazing poetry teacher (reading, not writing) early on. He was a rather slight and ostentatiously gay man back when being gay could have cost a teacher his job; but he was a combat veteran of the Second World War (which is how he got away with it), and would sometimes talk about what it had been like. I still remember him and his class with gratitude. But otherwise, literature teachers proved a rather neutral commodity. For me, learning was happening elsewhere. And I think I was far from unique.
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-13-2016 at 10:45 AM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  13. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Redwood Empire
    Posts
    1,563
    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    Well, depending on where and when you went to school, the teachers may have encouraged that sort of frightened snobbery in children. Why teach a large group (some of whom are genuinely over their heads) when it's less challenging to teach only a few? I found Arthur Conan Doyle in Middle School and had graduated to Dickens and Homer (independent of classes) by High School. I had an amazing poetry teacher (reading, not writing) early on. He was a rather slight and ostentatiously gay man back when being gay could have cost a teacher his job; but he was a combat veteran of the Second World War (which is how he got away with it), and would sometimes talk about what it had been like. I still remember him and his class with gratitude. But otherwise, literature teachers proved a rather neutral commodity. For me, learning was happening elsewhere. And I think I was far from unique.
    Welllllll, my rig's a little old but that don't mean she's slow. I, too, learned more out of school than in.

  14. #14
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by Pompey Bum View Post
    But otherwise, literature teachers proved a rather neutral commodity. For me, learning was happening elsewhere. And I think I was far from unique.
    That is incredibly depressing. One of the best classes I ran on Shakespeare was with a group of Year 8 boys who were incredibly low level in terms of their literacy, they managed to pull out more complex concepts from Romeo and Juliet than some of the supposedly more advanced kids ever did.

    Part of the problem with the classics is proving to the execs that kids will read them and it's worth "topping up" previous collections with new resources.

    Although awesome work-around, Gutenberg Press is free and easy to access..

Similar Threads

  1. High school appropriate?
    By swaggie_swag5 in forum 1984
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 11-12-2014, 10:52 PM
  2. High School
    By AlfredtheGreat in forum General Literature
    Replies: 19
    Last Post: 01-03-2011, 12:42 PM
  3. What do you think of High School/Secondary School Req. Reading?
    By BjorkPlease in forum General Literature
    Replies: 36
    Last Post: 03-30-2010, 04:00 AM
  4. High School Newspaper
    By [D] in forum General Chat
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 06-09-2008, 08:20 AM
  5. High School Novel?
    By muttonchops in forum General Literature
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 05-28-2007, 07:59 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •