Reading the Classics Reading classic literature will give you the opportunity to discover books that have remained important and valuable throughout time. Classic literature reflects the human experience and the conflicts and revelations that arise from it. The authors of classic literature are great writers who challenge us to understand characters and their struggles and, ultimately, learn something new about ourselves and the world around us. My hope is that through reading the classics, you will grow in awareness, knowledge, and wisdom about literature and life. Here’s how Reading the Classics will work this year:
For your independentquarterly reading, you will select one book from the Classic Literature Reading List. You will have 30 minutes to read each Friday (or last day of the school week). You will also read outside of class as Silent Reading time will not be sufficient to complete your books.
You will let me know in writing what you are reading and general information about your selection.
You will be prepared each week by bringing your book to class ready to read quietly for the entire time.
A book review will be due for each of your books first, second, and third quarter. You may select a book project for fourth quarter selections provided you have mastered writing a book review (which will be at the teacher’s discretion).Expectations for the book review or project will follow separately.
You will be evaluated each quarter on your preparation for reading (selecting and acquiring a book, bringing it to class, managing reading time) and your book review, which will be written in class.
Ask questions if you need help at any time for any reason related to the reading of your novel or your understanding of it. I hope by the time you have read and reviewed four classic novels independently, you will have learned much more about literature and its influence on readers. Set your reading goals high this year, and you will succeed!
Classic Literature Reading List English 9
Watership Down ~ Richard Adams
A heroic fantasy novel about a small group of rabbits who live in a natural environment complete with their own culture, language (Lapine), proverbs, poetry, and mythology. Evoking epic themes, the novel recounts the rabbits' odyssey as they escape the destruction of their warren to seek a place in which to establish a new home, encountering perils and temptations along the way.
Little Women ~ Louisa May Alcott
In picturesque nineteenth-century New England, tomboyish Jo, beautiful Meg, fragile Beth, and romantic Amy come of age while their father is off to war.
Before We Were Free ~ Julia Alvarez
Twelve-year-old Anita de la Torre is too involved with her own life to be more than dimly aware of the growing menace all around her, until her last cousins and uncles and aunts have fled to America and a fleet of black Volkswagens comes up the drive, bringing the secret police to the family compound to search their houses.
Emma is a funny and heartwarming story of a young lady whose zeal, snobbishness and self-satisfaction lead to several errors in judgment. Emma takes Harriet Smith, a live-in servant and unknown, under her wing and schemes for advancement through a good marriage.
Sense and Sensibility ~ Jane Austen
A wonderfully entertaining tale of flirtation and folly that revolves around two starkly different sisters—Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. While Elinor is thoughtful, considerate, and calm, her younger sister is emotional and wildly romantic. Both are looking for a husband, but neither Elinor’s reason nor Marianne’s passion can lead them to perfect happiness.
Go Tell It on the Mountain ~ James Baldwin
Semi-autobiographical novel about a 14-year-old black youth's religious conversion.
Peter Pan ~ J. M. Barrie
Peter Pan, the book based on J. M. Barrie’s famous play, is filled with unforgettable characters: Peter Pan, the boy who would not grow up; the fairy, Tinker Bell; the evil pirate, Captain Hook; and the three children—Wendy, John, and Michael—who fly off with Peter Pan to Neverland, where they meet Indians and pirates and a crocodile that ticks.
Jane Eyre ~ Charlotte Bronte
An intelligent and passionate governess, once a poor orphan girl, falls in love with and redeems a strange, moody man tormented by dark secrets. Published in 1847, the novel embodies gothic elements such as mystery, horror, and the classic medieval castle setting, while also having something to say about subjects such as the relations between men and women, women’s equality, and the nature of true love.
Wuthering Heights ~ Emily Bronte
Published in 1847, one of the masterpieces of English romanticism, this is a brooding tale of Heathcliff and Catherine, love and revenge.
Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee ~ Dee Brown
First published in 1970, this extraordinary book changed the way Americans think about the original inhabitants of their country. Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos in 1860 and ending 30 years later with the massacre of Sioux men, women, and children at Wounded Knee in South Dakota, it tells how the American Indians lost their land and lives to a dynamically expanding white society.
The Good Earth ~ Pearl S. Buck
A moving tale about the life and labors of a Chinese farmer during the sweeping reign of the country’s last emperor. Wang Lung rises from humble origins to become a rich landowner with a large family. Although Wang Lung is a fundamentally decent man, as he becomes wealthy and acquires a large townhouse he becomes arrogant and loses his moral bearings, but he manages to right himself by returning to the land, which always nourishes his spirit.
Cold Sassy Tree ~ Olive Ann Burns
Set in the fictional town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Burns’ novel centers on the charming fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy. When Grandpa E. Rucker Blakeslee decides to marry the young Miss Love Simpson a mere three weeks after his wife—Will’s grandmother—has died, he inspires a whirlwind of local gossip.
In Cold Blood ~ Truman Capote
A nonfiction novel which details the senseless 1959 murders of Herbert Clutter, a wealthy farmer from Kansas, and his wife and two of their children. Author Truman Capote learned of the quadruple murder and decided to travel to Kansas and write about the crime. The plot weaves a complicated psychological story of two parolees who together commit a mass murder. Capote's book also details the lives of the victims and the effect the crime had on the community where they lived.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland ~ Lewis Carroll
In this work, Carroll's imagination takes readers with Alice into a wonderful journey. He fills the novel with situations from the mundane to the silly, the ordinary to the extraordinary. The tale begins when Alice falls down a rabbit-hole, beginning a thrilling adventure.
Curtain – Agatha Christie
Detective Hercule Poirot returns to the scene of his very first crime to solve a mystery that will be his last.
The House on Mango Street ~ Sandra Cisneros
Experanza Cordero, a girl coming of age in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago, uses poems and stories to express thoughts and emotions about her oppressive environment.
Where the Children Are ~ Mary Higgins Clark
Nancy Harmon long ago fled the heartbreak of her first marriage, the macabre deaths of her two little children, and the shocking charges against her. She changed her name, dyed her hair, and left California for the windswept peace of Cape Cod. Now remarried, she has two more beloved children, and the terrible pain has begun to heal—until the morning she looks in the backyard for her little boy and girl and finds only one red mitten. She knows that the nightmare is beginning again …
The Chocolate War~ Robert Cormier
Jerry Renault challenges the power structure of his school when he refuses to sell chocolates for the annual fundraiser. The Chocolate War reveals the psychological effects of manipulation and conformity.
During the Civil War, Henry Fleming joins the army full of romantic visions of battle which are shattered by combat.
Robinson Crusoe ~ Daniel Defoe
Called the original adventure novel, Defoe published Robinson Crusoe in the year 1719. It is the first person narrative of a fictionalized character that, after his initial journeys to the sea and South America, finds himself washed up on the shore of a deserted island and survives there alone 24 years.
Great Expectations ~ Charles Dickens
The moving story of the rise, fall, and rise again of a humbly-born young orphan. Similar to Dickens' memories of his own childhood, in his early years the young Pip seems powerless to stand against injustice or to ever realize his dreams for a better life. However, as he grows into a useful worker and then an educated young man he reaches an important realization: grand schemes and dreams are never what they first seem to be.
A Christmas Carol ~ Charles Dickens
In his “ghostly little book,” Charles Dickens invents the modern concept of Christmas Spirit and offers one of the world’s most adapted and imitated stories. We know Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, not only as fiction characters, but also as icons of the true meaning of Christmas in a world still plagued with avarice and cynicism.
The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ~ Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson’s poems were unpublished until after her death when her sister discovered her writings stacked and bound with ribbon. This collection is a chronological arrangement of all known Dickinson poems and fragments, as well as letters she wrote.
Hound of the Baskervilles ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
What’s the truth behind the legend of the hound of the Baskervilles? Is it really a devil-beast that’s haunting the lonely moors? Enter Sherlock Holmes to find the answer, in this, the only full-length novel ever written by the creator of one of the most popular and enduring detective series ever written.
Silas Marner ~ George Eliot
Embittered by a false accusation, disappointed in friendship and love, the weaver Silas Marner retreats into a long twilight life alone with his loom . . . and his gold. Silas hoards a treasure that kills his spirit until fate steals it from him and replaces it with a golden-haired founding child. Where she came from, who her parents were, and who really stole the gold are the secrets that permeate this moving tale of guilt and innocence.
The Diary of a Young Girl ~ Anne Frank
Anne Frank is one of the most famous Jewish victims of the Holocaust because of the diary she kept during her time in hiding before being captured by the Nazis. She was only 13 years old when she and her family went into hiding. The writings from the two years she spent in such close proximity to her family was discovered and published by her father, Otto Frank, and continue to touch people today.
The Poetry of Robert Frost~ Robert Frost
This is the collected works of Frost, reflecting both flashing insight and practical wisdom.
The Wind in the Willows ~ Kenneth Grahame
Since its beginnings as a series of stories told to Kenneth Grahame’s young son, The Wind in the Willows has become one of the best-loved children’s books ever. The book follows the exploits of Toad, Rat, Mole, and Badger.
Death Be Not Proud ~ John Gunther
Johnny Gunther was only seventeen years old when he died of a brain tumor. During the months of his illness, everyone near him was unforgettably impressed by his level-headed courage, his wit and quiet friendliness and, above all, his unfaltering patience through times of despair. This deeply moving book is a father’s memoir of a brave, intelligent, and spirited boy.
Mythology ~ Edith Hamilton
Gods and heroes, their clashes and adventures, come alive in this splendid retelling of the Greek, Roman and Norse myths.
The Old Man and the Sea ~ Ernest Hemingway
Told in language of great simplicity and power, it is the story of an old Cuban fisherman, down on his luck, and his supreme ordeal—a relentless, agonizing battle with a giant marlin far out in the Gulf Stream.
Selected Poems ~ Langston Hughes
Poems selected by Hughes shortly before his death in 1967, representing work from his entire career.
The Story of My Life ~ Helen Keller
This is the autobiography of Helen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, and her relationship with her devoted teacher Anne Sullivan.
The Jungle Book ~ Rudyard Kipling
A collection of fables using animals to give moral lessons, Kipling, who was raised in India as a young child, put in them nearly everything he knew or "heard or dreamed about the Indian jungle." The best-known of them are the three stories revolving around the adventures of an abandoned 'man cub' Mowgli who is raised by wolves in the Indian jungle.
A Separate Peace ~ John Knowles
Sharing a room at Devon, an exclusive New England prep school, in the summer prior to World War II, Gene and Phineas form a complex bond of friendship that draws out both the best and worst characteristics of each boy and leads ultimately to violence, a confession, and the betrayal of trust.
The Left Hand of Darkness ~ Ursula K. LeGuin
Genly Ai is an emissary from the human galaxy to Winter, a lost, stray world. His mission is to bring the planet back into the fold of an evolving galactic civilization, but to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own culture and prejudices and those that he encounters. On a planet where people are of no gender—or both—this is a broad gulf indeed.
The Chronicles of Narnia ~ C. S. Lewis
A series of seven fantasy novels presenting the adventures of children who play central roles in the unfolding history of the fictional realm of Narnia, a place where animals talk, magic is common and good battles evil.
Call of the Wild ~ Jack London
Buck is a loyal pet dog until cruel men make him a pawn in their search for Klondike gold. Told through the perspective of the dog, The Call of the Wild is a journey of adventure, danger, and freedom.
White Fang ~ Jack London
In the desolate, frozen wilds of northwest Canada, a wolf cub soon finds himself the sole survivor of his litter. Son of Kiche—half-wolf, half-dog—and the ageing wolf One Eye, he is thrust into a savage world where each day becomes a fight to stay alive.
The Princess and the Goblin ~ George MacDonald
Said to be one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s childhood favorites, The Princess and the Goblin is the story of the young Princess Irene, her good friend Curdie—a miner’s son—and Irene’s mysterious and beautiful great-great grandmother, who lives in a secret room at the top of the castle stairs. Filled with images of dungeons and goblins, mysterious fires, burning roses, and a thread so fine as to be invisible and yet—like prayer—strong enough to lead the Princess back home to her grandmother’s arms, this is a story of Curdie’s slow realization that sometimes, as the princess tells him, “you must believe without seeing.”
The Princess and Curdie ~ George MacDonald
Sequel to The Princess and the Goblin. With the help of a mysterious fairy queen who provides monstrous but gentle creatures to aid him, a miner’s son takes on the dangerous task of helping the kind and princess confound their enemies and save the kingdom.
The Natural ~ Bernard Malamud The Naturalis a complex blend of myth, legend, and the American obsession with professional sports and celebrity. Roy Hobbs, the talented but tragic baseball player, becomes tied up with the hopes and dreams of New York as he brings the New York Knights up from last-place oblivion into a pennant race.
The Bluest Eye ~ Toni Morrison
It is the story of eleven-year-old Pecola Breedlove—a black girl in an America whose love for its blond, blue-eyed children can devastate all others—who prays for her eyes to turn blue: so that she will be beautiful, so that people will look at her, so that her world will be different. This is the story of the nightmare at the heart of her yearning and the tragedy of its fulfillment.
Miracle at St. Anna ~ James McBride
This story follows four of the U.S. Army’s 92nd Division’s all-black buffalo soldiers as they become trapped between forces beyond their control and between worlds. Three of the soldiers have bolted behind enemy lines to rescue their comrade, the colossal, but simple, Private Sam Train. They find themselves stranded between worlds in a remote central Italian village, with the German Army hidden on one side and their racist and largely mismanaged American commanding officers on the other.
Song Yet Sung ~ James McBride
Escaped slaves, free blacks, slave-catchers and plantation owners weave a tangled web of intrigue and adventure in this novel set in pre-Civil War Maryland. Liz Spocott, a beautiful young runaway slave, suffered a nasty head wound just before being nabbed by a posse of slave catchers. She falls into a coma, and when she awakes, she can see the future—from the near-future to Martin Luther King to hip-hop—in her dreams. Liz’s visions help her and her fellow slaves escape, but soon there are new dangers on her trail…
Anne of Green Gables ~ L. M. Montgomery
When Marilla Cuthbert’s brother, Matthew, returns home to Green Gables with a chatty red-headed orphan girl, Marilla exclaims, “But we asked for a boy. We have no use for a girl.” It’s not long, though, before the Cuthberts can’t imagine how they could ever do without young Anne of Green Gables—but not for the original reasons they sought an orphan.
Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe ~ Edgar Allan Poe
From the original master of fearsome fiction, these classic tales of fantasy, horror, romanticism and symbolism have an emotional--even magical--effect on all who read them.
The Chosen ~ Chaim Potok
A friendship between two Jewish boys, one Hasidic and the other Orthodox, begins at a baseball game and flourishes despite their different backgrounds and beliefs.
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood ~ Howard Pyle
Pyle's Robin Hood is the first, most beautifully illustrated, and most complete of the many renditions of the adventures of the famous thief of Sherwood Forest. The plot follows Robin Hood as he becomes an outlaw after a conflict with foresters and through his adventures and run-ins with the law. Each chapter tells a tale as Robin recruits Merry Men, resists the authorities, and aids his fellow man.
Anthem ~ Ayn Rand
Anthem is written as the diary of Equality 7-2521, a young man living in a future in which people have lost all knowledge of individualism, to the point of not even knowing words like "I" or "mine." Everyone lives and works in collective groups, with all aspects of daily life dictated by "councils". His curiosity leads him to forbidden discoveries and eventually to exile, where he makes the greatest discovery of all.
The Yearling ~ Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Fighting off a pack of starving wolves, wrestling alligators in the swamp, romping with bear cubs, drawing off the venom of a giant rattlesnake bite with the heart of a fresh-killed deer—it’s all in a day’s work for the Baxter family of the Florida scrublands. But young Jody Baxter is not content with these electrifying escapades, or even with the cozy comfort of home with Pa and Ma. He wants a pet, a friend with whom he can share his quiet thoughts and his cornbread.
All Quiet on the Western Front ~ Erich Maria Remarque
This war novel is narrated by Paul Baumer, a young man of nineteen who fights in the German army on the French front in World War I. Paul joins the army voluntarily after listening to the stirring patriotic speeches of his teacher. But after experiencing ten weeks of brutal training and the unimaginable brutality of life on the front, he no longer believes that war is glorious or honorable.
Persepolis, The Story of a Childhood ~ Marjane Satrapi
Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is a memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. In powerful black and white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen and paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran and of the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life. Satrapi’s child’s-eye view allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.
Ivanhoe ~ Sir Walter Scott
This is the tale of Ivanhoe, the disinherited knight; Lady Rowena; Richard the Lion-Hearted; and Robin Hood at the time of the Crusades. Written in 1819, Ivanhoe is set in 12th century England.
Black Beauty ~ Anna Sewell
The long-popular Black Beauty is an engaging story told from the perspective of a horse. Black Beauty's experiences lead him through a diverse series of encounters and bring him into contact with many characters, including other horses with stories of their own to tell. Sewell uses Black Beauty's story to explore her theme of cruelty to animals.
Frankenstein ~ Mary Shelley Frankenstein is the classic gothic tale of terror in which Dr. Victor Frankenstein creates a monster from corpses. Unfortunately for Dr. Frankenstein, the results of his experiment are not what he expected, and he must suffer the consequences for tampering with creation.
Francie Nolan, avid reader, penny-candy connoisseur, and adroit observer of human nature, has much to ponder in colorful, turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She grows up with a sweet, tragic father, a severely realistic mother, and an aunt who gives her love too freely—to men, and to a brother who will always be the favored child. Francie learns early the meaning of hunger and the value of a penny.
Oedipus Rex ~ Sophocles
Classical tragedy of Oedipus who unwittingly killed his father, married his mother and brought the plague to Thebes. Sophocles's Oedipus Rex is probably the most famous tragedy ever written. Sophocles first produced the play in Athens, Greece around 430 B.C.
The Pearl ~ John Steinbeck
Kino, a poor Mexican pearl diver, finds a valuable pearl, one that will save his son’s life and end his family’s poverty. Yet, instead of bringing blessings, the pearl acts as an omen of misfortune to Kino and his wife, Juana. Steinbeck based this novella on a Mexican folk tale.
Treasure Island ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
This adventure novel is a tale of "pirates and buried gold" and was first published as a book in 1883. Traditionally considered a coming of age story, it is an adventure tale known for its superb atmosphere, character and action, and commentary on morality—as seen in the character Long John Silver. The influence of Treasure Island on popular perception of pirates is vast, including treasure maps with an "X", schooners, tropical islands, and one-legged seamen with parrots on their shoulders.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ~ Robert Louis Stevenson
Spawned by a nightmare that Stevenson had, this classic tale of the dark, primordial night of the soul remains a masterpiece of the duality of good and evil within us all.
A black family living in Mississippi during the Depression of the 1930s is faced with prejudice and discrimination which its children do not understand. Cassie Logan is raised by a family determined not to surrender their freedom or humanity because they are black.
The Hobbit ~ J.R.R. Tolkien
In this classic fantasy novel, Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who wanted to be left alone in quiet comfort. But the wizard Gandalf came along with a band of homeless dwarves. Soon Bilbo is drawn into their quest, facing evil orcs, savage wolves, giant spiders, and worse unknown dangers. Finally, it is Bilbo—alone and unaided—who must confront the giant dragon Smaug, the terror of an entire countryside.
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court ~ Mark Twain
In this darkly comic social satire, Hank Morgan, a 19th-century American citizen, awakens to find himself inexplicably transported back in time to medieval England at the time of the legendary King Arthur in AD 528.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea ~ Jules Verne
Originally published in 1870, Verne’s amazing undersea adventure is one of the earliest science fiction novels ever written. Since that time, generations of readers have plunged below the ocean’s waves with Captain Nemo and his first-ever submarine, The Nautilus.
A Journey to the Center of the Earth ~ Jules Verne
This classic 1864 science fiction novel involves German professor Professor Von Hardwigg, who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the center of the Earth. He, his nephew Axel, and their Icelandic guide Hans encounter many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards, on their journey.
The War of the Worlds ~ H. G. Wells
Written in 1898, this science fiction novel describes the invasion of late Victorian England by Martians equipped with advanced weaponry. The novel is narrated by an anonymous journalist, living where the invaders land. Throughout the story he struggles to reunite with his wife and brother, while witnessing the Martians destroying Southern English counties and London.
Selected Poems ~ William Carlos Williams
Williams' poetry is firmly rooted in the commonplace details of American life.
English 9 Name _______________________
Classic Reading Selection Form
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