5 Classics that are Great for the High School Classroom

It can be nice to switch up the reading list every couple of years or so. Sometimes we are forced to change because of school/district policies, and sometimes we just want to change to keep students (and ourselves) engaged in the curriculum.

Here are 5 of my favorite books for the high school classroom so that next time you are approached about freshening up your book list, you have some place to start.  

If you are not already reading these titles, you should consider adding: 

1. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros:

Why your classes should read it: This novel is a series of vignettes that tell the story of a young Latina named Esperanza. The concepts are mature, but the reading level is accessible for struggling readers.  So many times students with lower reading levels get stuck reading banal selections that hardly inspire deep thought or a love of reading.  This novella bridges the gap perfectly.  It is also a quick read so it is friendly to already crowded curriculum maps!


2. 1984 by George Orwell:

Why your classes should read it: Advances in technology make this novel more relevant to teens every year (unlike other novels that struggle to hold on to relevance for today’s teens). Just trust me on this one; they get it and it is amazing to watch.

5 classics you should be teaching in high school 

3. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe:

Why your classes should read it: First, many schools are lacking in great African literature and this one really hits the mark. Second, students can definitely grasp on to the universal conflict of family dynamics and overbearing parents. Plus, it offers great insight into how cultures change, which can be the beginning of some amazing iSearch and research papers!


4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley:

Why your classes should read it: This novel offers so much more than the pop culture understanding of the monster with screws in his head.  I’ve had so many students who feel like they are part of an exclusive club of intellectuals after reading this novel, especially when they find a moment to correct an adult or media post referring to the Creature as Frankenstein instead of referring to Victor as Frankenstein.


5. A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare:

Why your classes should read it: Most students leave high school having read a few Shakespearean tragedies and zero comedies. This comedy is packed full of thought provoking text and the typical beauty of Shakespearean language.


What would you add to this list and why?  Do you teach any of these?  What has been your experience?

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