Here are 8 great types of high school American Literature for Well-Rounded Education!
High School American Literature for Well-Rounded Education
American Literature in High School should include more than just the obvious lists you can find on the internet.
It’s not hard to find lists of books by American authors when you’re deciding on your curriculum for High School English. However, such lists often overlook some wonderful writing that could be a great addition to your American Literature credit.
When my homeschool high schoolers were working on their American Literature credit, we tried to add some different genres. Here are some things I have included on my teens homeschool reading list:
High School American Literature: Poetry
When we decided to do a short unit on American poetry, we chose 7Sisters American Poetry: Reading and Writing.
This 5-week unit gave a useful mix of fun, serious and varied ethnic-background poetry. The topics included:
- amusing poetry
- Native American poetry
- early American poetry
- poetry that tells a story
- African-American poetry
We read short selections of poems then tried our hands at writing some poetry in that style. (That was nice because it got some of the writing assignments out of the way.)
High School American Literature: New Journalism
Tom Wolfe and others ushered in a new type of writing in the 1970s that blended journalism (real stories, carefully researched facts) with a narrative voice. This kind of writing turned journalism into an enjoyable story that made room for
- social commentary.
We read The Right Stuff about the space race and enjoyed it immensely. (Warning: some profanity.)
High School American Literature: Speeches
Speech-writing is a complicated form of writing that should not be ignored by literature students. We read a selection of speeches that included:
- Patrick Henry
- Frederick Douglass
- Elizabeth Cady Stanton
- Sojourner Truth
- Abraham Lincoln
- Lou Gehrig
- Franklin Delano Roosevelt
- Margaret Chase Smith
- John F. Kennedy
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
We also incorporated some of the speeches into our Public Speaking credit. While working on this credit, we joined our homeschool group using 7Sisters Public Speaking text.
Our homeschool high schoolers enjoyed the unit about memorizing speeches. These speeches can vary in length according to the homeschool high schooler’s age and interest. For groups, there is a student workbook, too (saves money). You should try it!
High School American Literature: Short Stories
My homeschool high schoolers enjoyed short stories. We chose Edgar Allan Poe as a short story focus. However, there are so many to choose from! We steered clear of the more famous horror tales and read his mysteries instead.
High School American Literature: Native American Tales
We also chose some Native American folklore stories to read. These are easy to find on the internet. We chose stories from Native Languages. This site made it easy for us to explore:
- oral tradition
- the power of nature
High School American Literature: Modern Role Models
High School American Literature: Science Fiction
My homeschool high schoolers love Sci-Fi. Isaac Asimov’s I, Robot made us think about technology in a very interesting way! Highly recommended! Also, Fahrenheit 451 is an absolute must-read and one of our high school co-op classes’ favorites.
High School American Literature: Philosophy
My homeschool high schoolers were curious about transcendentalism. This was a New England-based movement of philosophy that was highly influential with many authors in the 1800s. Transcendentalism emphasized the importance of responsibility to:
- the Earth
We read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott with a focus on the transcendental elements of the March girls’ upbringing (Did you know Alcott’s father was a lesser-known member of that Concord, MA community?).
High School American Literature: Essays and Articles
Sometimes teens groan when we talk about reading articles and essays. That’s because they think these types of literature will be boring! The truth is that sometimes they are dull. However, well-written articles and essays can:
- capture teens’ interest and imagination if it is a topic they like
- help them discover a new interest
- develop some critical thinking skills
Check out this post with lots of essays to read and also this essay we wrote in response to a Harvard professor’s attack on homeschooling.
7Sisters Homeschool brings your teens American Literature: A Full-Year Course that will cover a year’s worth of reading for your average homeschool high schooler. Add the other categories listed above and your teen will enjoy an honors credit (just follow the instructions in the text).
American Literature High School titles covered by these study guides include:
- A Separate Peace by John Knowles
- Click here to view an excerpt from A Separate Peace Study Guide.
- A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry (Read an excerpt from the study guide for A Raisin in the Sun.)
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (Read an excerpt from the study guide for The Scarlet Letter.)
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (viewed through a lens of American Transcendentalism)
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
- Click here for an excerpt from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Study Guide
- The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Download this curriculum to get your homeschool high schoolers started on a solid American Literature experience.
You can level up the credit with the ideas in this post and this post that helps you decide how many books your teens should read.