Classic literature is not as boring as you might think… or as your kids might think. What makes a book a classic? Answers will vary, depending on your experiences. Is it a classic because it is old? Is it a classic because it changed history for someone? For each of us, we have classic literature experiences from our own education.
There are books I will have my girls read because I enjoyed them as a child. There are some I was never interested in that other people just rave about. Honestly, I don’t think that being labeled a classic makes a book good literature. It’s different for everyone, and you need to choose what you want your kids to absorb through books. The links for this week are for studying classics that might be really old, or maybe just a little bit old, like me. You choose what is a classic for yourself. If it changed your way of looking at the world and the characters are still with you, well, I say that is a classic worth sharing no matter when it was written.
Bibliomania has over 2,000 free Online Classic Literature Texts. There are Book Notes, Author Biographies, Book Summaries and Reference Books to go along with the texts. You can read read Classic Fiction, Drama, Poetry, Short Stories and more. There are Study Guides to the most read books and Help for Teachers. This site has a request to register before you can get to the list of books and authors, so if the link above doesn’t work for you, copy and paste this link here: http://www.bibliomania.com and go to the link to Register. It’s free and you get instant access.
Millstone Education is full of resources for literature. Glen Draeger is a homeschool dad who enjoys literature. This site is run by a homeschool dad named Glen Draeger, and his site has plenty to keep you busy and it is easy to find what you need. Each Unit uses a classic work of literature or a book about a classic work or author. It is designed to enhance the understanding of the work and give parents and teachers a resource in one location that will give a substantial amount of information regarding the work being studied. As always, you can choose to use as much or as little of the unit as you want depending on the needs and desires of your students. There is a page to tell you how to use the unit to meet your schooling needs.
This list is from a public school website, and is a mixture of old and new books. I don’t think all of them are classics according to my standards, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth reading. These teaching units were designed by various teachers in the school system, so the format for each link is a little different. In general, though, each book link should have activities, vocabulary lists, and study questions. At the bottom of the page, there are some links to Bonus Jeopardy Questions for a few books.
Ms. Effie has a compilation of her best lessons from her 34 years of teaching English. It has been updated this month, so the links on the lessons should be working. The lessons I took a look at had activity ideas and questions for study. Some of the lessons don’t have very much organization, but I do think this is a good resource for finding information for teaching the books. The classics on this site include Beowulf, Catcher in the Rye, The Old Man and the Sea, and other literature links and helps.
Glencoe Literature Library is an extension of McGraw-Hill publications. Each study guide includes background information and reproducible activity pages for students. The guides are in pdf form. The study guides are designed to be used with the specific textbooks from McGraw-Hill, you can use your own book and ignore the page number references.
Grade Saver has free ClassicNotes, which are written by Harvard Students. Each study guide includes essays, an in-depth chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis, character list, theme list, historical context, author biography and quiz. My opinion is that this is one of the best-organized website for free help with literature analysis. There is also a forum for asking questions about the books where elements of the stories can be discussed. If this was available to me in college or even high school, my stress would have been so much less! Very good resource.
Ambleside Online is a website I come back to every now and then. I really like the book lists and suggestions they have for every age. You don’t have to subscribe to their scope and sequence to appreciate the work put into these lists. There is a general kind of test you can administer at the end of each sememster. Not all grades have them, but it’s likely that you could edit one to suit your needs. I find this site most helpful when I am at a loss of what book my child could be reading. All I need to do is look up that grade level and know what to put in the schedule.
SparkNotes is a popular place to find study notes for literature and other subjects. As long as you are viewing the pages on line, it is free. There is a section for practicing the AP Literature SAT. (and other subjects, too!) As a word of caution, if you are letting your younger kids use this website, is that the SparkLife section is full of secular ads and articles. This site is full of useful resources, but take caution when leaving your student unsupervised.
A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age.
— Robertson Davies
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