Longer Literary Works to Read Before High School Graduation

Nov 26, 2018

Reading is imperative!

Joseph Addison, a 17th century English poet and playwright, said that, “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” It is a truth that is universal, spanning time and space. Studying novels and longer pieces of work (like plays) is an important part of any student’s educational experience.  Not only does reading engage cognitive skills, it also provides insight into time periods, human nature, and various experiences that differ from our own.  All of these facets are important in producing an empathetic citizen capable of critical thinking.

Why do high school curriculums seem to cover the same pieces?

Literary WorksBelieve it or not, English instructors do not host an annual convention to discuss which novels will be covered in high school literature classes.  So how is it possible that many of us were assigned the same novels throughout high school?  Regardless of location within the United States, it is common for students to have studied many of the same pieces.  These works have become a part of the canon considered quality literature. In public schools, the amount of time that is allotted to studying longer works is constricted due to time, and, as a former public school English teacher, I believe students who only depend on the instruction given at school miss out on the richness of literature.  Home schooling provides the opportunity to make sure your student has hit all the necessities to prepare them for life (and college if that is the goal).

In my experience, there are 60 longer works that should be covered prior to high school graduation.  Please bear in mind that you are about to read a list from one English teacher/avid reader.  Feel free to explore other lists.  For the purposes of this list, I am going to stick to works covered in high school.  While many of these are classics, there are many insightful contemporary pieces worthy of study that will not be mentioned here.  Additionally, the study of poetry and short stories is also beneficial; for my list of must-read short stories, please see this blog.

If you don’t have time to read 15 books a year, try free audiobooks from your local library or Youtube

Don’t feel ashamed to listen to audiobooks.  While it is true that students may miss some content this way, audiobooks are a wonderful tool to use when traveling, doing chores, etc

Must-Read Longer Works (in no particular order)

About the Author

Jess Woods graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor's degree in English Education and from Arizona State University with a Master's degree in English. She began her career teaching in a public high school; however, since 2013, she has been teaching middle school and high school English courses online.  Jess is a life-long reader and writer.  She comes alive in the company of words and music, and she has a passion for literature that reaches through every part of her being.  She believes wholeheartedly that each person has a relevant voice and perspective, and she eagerly teaches her students to embrace their individual voices by exploring their own thoughts and learning to confidently articulate them.  It is her desire to encourage growth in all students (regardless of their love for English courses…or lack thereof).  She considers it a tremendous success if she can awaken a love of literature and/or composition in her students. Jess currently resides in Alabama with her pastor-husband, Josh and their three kids. They also have a lot of animals and plants.  While reading and writing are clearly on the top of her hobby list, Jess also enjoys all things musical, cooking competition shows, gardening,  hiking, and traveling.

The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the author and should not be taken to represent the views of Excelsior Classes, LLC or the consortium of teachers.