Our American Lit Selections

High School American Lit | Our Journey Westward

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High School American Lit

I love meeting the particular needs and interests of my children in our homeschool studies.  Once my children reach high school, the same philosophy applies.  Thus, the reason I’m pulling bits and pieces of various American Literature courses and adding some of my own choices in as well.

I certainly don’t want to make you feel bad if you’ve found one curriculum choice that works for you and your child.  Since so many people ask, though, why (and how) I eclectically put together subjects, I thought I’d share a little of the workings in my mind as I planned Mahayla’s American Lit class for her junior year.

Home-Base English

  • Home-Base English is a unique curriculum that covers several literature works which have been turned into movies.  I like being able to assign comparisons between text and film versions.
  • I also like that the introductions to each book share a bit about the author and from where his or her motivation for writing about certain themes likely came.  In other words, you learn a little about the history of the time period and why the author chose to convey the message that comes through in the book.
  • Of course, there are lots of questions provided that could be used for discussion and/or assignments.  But, there are also leading questions concerning book themes and plenty of assignments that ask high school students to research, debate, write essays and more.
  • I love the higher order thinking skills required in these assignments.

Why did I choose to supplement this curriculum if it’s so good?  Some of the book choices weren’t appropriate for my daughter.  At least that’s how my husband and I feel about it at this point.  For instance, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? covers some very mature marital topics and, quite frankly, doesn’t portray the idea of a Christian marriage.  Good literature can include debatable topics without all the “baggage” of this world.

The Crucible: A Play in Four ActsTo Kill a Mockingbird, 50th Anniversary EditionThe Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged



  • Learning Language Arts Through Literature has been a gold standard language arts curriculum for many years.
  • The American Lit (Gold) edition for high school covers short stories, novels, essays and poetry – and all of the selections (at least the ones I know about) seem acceptable.  However, there were several on the list that I was having a hard time finding and didn’t want to fork out the money to purchase them all.
  • I really like how this curriculum dissects the parts of each kind of writing style and encourages vocabulary building – to build better writers, as well as critical readers.
  • While their are many questions and mini-assignments that go along with each book, I don’t feel like the assignments hit higher order thinking skills quite as hard as Home Base English.

The Old Man and The Sea, Book Cover May VaryThe Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales (Signet Classics)The Pearl


Mom’s Choices

There are at least a few books that weren’t covered by either curriculum that we really wanted Mahayla to read.  So, we simply added them in.  Since the Home Base English and LLATL Gold do a good job with in-depth assignments, we won’t expect much more than some lively discussion around the supper table for the Mom’s Choice books.

Yes, yes.  I know Orwell was a British author.  The themes of his book are very timely in America today, though, which is why we are reading them this year.

Mere ChristianityFahrenheit 4511984 (Signet Classics)Animal Farm


Whittling the List

Man, it was HARD choosing which of the many possibilities to read!  So hard, in fact, that I’ve woven at least a few of the classics into Mahayla’s American History course.  I’ll share more about that another day.

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  1. TL’s list looks very similar this year. I’m excited to get this year started as there are several books that I haven’t read before.

  2. This is not English literature, but I think the book Who Moved my Cheese is a good read that teaches practical problem solving in everyday life. It also makes for a lively discussion. (It’s a quick read too, but one to reread often). When you discuss it, have cheese and crackers!

  3. Thx for the suggestions~! I’ve used the younger years in The Gold Books series and liked them! I had forgotten about that series.
    We are doing a study now of the Amer short story and I pinned this post as well as your idiot’s Guide resource list. Thank you for all the work you put into this…I linked at the Daisyhead and saw you there…clicked over.

    Be well and have a great day!

  4. Thanks, Chris! I love being part of the high school link-up, don’t you?? So many great resources. 🙂

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