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?
Believe 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
Jess currently resides in upstate New York with her husband and three children. Though she spent her childhood and adolescence in Georgia, Jess has lived in eight different states and has a fondness for traveling and experiencing different regions, as each one has taught her something about herself and about community. Jess enjoys reading, writing, and all things music (ok, most things music). Teaching is the perfect career for her since she loves being able to experience an appreciation for words and story come alive within other people.