As if entering the high school years wasn’t daunting enough, you’re expected to be instantly informed about how to teach high school literature.
As I began gathering teaching tips and resources for my first high school son, all I could think of was my own high school years, and that was a long time ago. Gradually, my basic plan for a starting point has changed as each son entered high school because my own high school experience was not much help.
Today, I want to clear away some of the mystery surrounding how to teach literature because I want to give you a beginning point.
Also, teaching high school literature is a very comprehensive topic. Instead of taking you to the glazed-over-eyes point I want to stick to a basic foundation, which I think is more helpful.
Try to remember as I share the three beginner’s tips that you can build on them each year.
Try not to sock it all to your teen like I did in the beginning. Look at my 9th Grade Homeschool High School – Avoid the Sock It to Them Attitude.
ONE/ Hone your definition of what is high school literature.
Literature is any written material. That doesn’t help much so you need to help your teen understand what is the importance of studying literature.
Battle for the Mind
Try this. Literature is any written material, but it normally means works of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and drama which having artistic value and makes one think.
In addition, classic literature is written work that transcends time or has outlasted current thinking. Too, great literature or masterpieces are written works that gives shades of meaning to their topics. Opinions, feelings and emotions will vary.
Whether it’s a short story with limited characters or poetry that reflects the author’s world, they all share identifying marks which are to move you and make you hate or delight in the undertone meaning. And like one of my boys said, they just keep talking to you today.
Whether the material is about showing a stylistic technique or it’s an unusual genre, it’s a battle for the mind.
TWO/ Introduce literature through American, British, and World authors.
Something else I did wrong was to be all over the place when selecting curriculum. No matter how organized my first high school teen was, I frustrated him because I didn’t have a method to my planning.
Dividing up grades or semesters by reading and analyzing poems, novels, and short stories from different parts of the world and different time periods gives your teen a well-balanced view.
For example, a study of World literature would obviously include authors from all over the world, but it should coincide with the different time periods of history. This way you’re covering some of the greatest material from different ages.
Don’t forget the timeless tip of using one history book for analyzing literature while reading about history.
For example, when I read the novel by Dickens of A Tale of Two Cities with my boys, it gives a good view of the Victorian period and the French Revolution.
You’ll want to add to it by having your teen research a bit about the French Revolution unless he has already studied it. Understanding the world the author has created or is writing about places your teen right in the middle of the conflicts.
The conflict of two distinct classes, the rich and the poor, along with the way Dickens explains sad times gives your teen a preview of not only literary topics, but history.
THREE/ Literary devices or terms need to be your framework.
I never required my boys to do a book report when they were younger, but I did require critical thinking skills and a broad understanding of literary devices in high school.
I would hear moans of how boring it was and I tried not to make it boring. But, this is high school literature and the skills taught at these grades should equip your teen at the least to think like an adult.
Whether you’re preparing your teen for a college prep course or not, he still needs to learn how to think beyond black and white.
This is the time when your teen forms values, opinions, and beliefs and you need to look beyond the idea that you’re mutilating a good read.
How to Reflect on American, British, and World Literature
Making the connection to our belief system during our study time as we discussed it together was an unexpected benefit.
What I mean is that this is not just the time to read about boring literary devices, but the time to understand the message that the author is illustrating through literary devices.
Sometimes, it’s necessary to memorize definitions like rhyme, meter, or sonnet, but it’s more engaging when you and your teen understand why poetry was written in that style.
Digging into why ancient poets wrote how they did gives your student a richer understanding of the world around him.
You want your homeschooled teen to clearly state a verbal or written response to the topics of today’s world. It begins by analyzing a great book.
I hope this simple beginning and quick glance will give you a good foundation to begin your planning. In my upcoming posts, I will be sharing resources to help guide you and your teen.
Do you think you would like that?
Look at these too, you may like to grab the tips there.
- How to Transition a Child From Reading to Literature
- 3 Ways to Choose the BEST Writing Curriculum (for a Growing Homeschool Family)
- 7 Budget-Friendly Language Arts Curriculum to Pair with Unit Studies (with printable)
Hugs and love ya,