Homework Help

Teaching Classic LiteratureI am an independent literature tutor and have started...

user profile pic

astilbe | Elementary School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 11, 2009 at 11:42 AM via web

dislike 0 like
Teaching Classic Literature

I am an independent literature tutor and have started developing units based on children's literature classics (loosely defined by me as literature written before 1960).  I'm working on The Wind in the Willows now and am excited about exposing my students to its rich language and universal themes.  I'm wondering if other teachers are successfully re-introducing the classics to their students. Other books I'll be working on are Strawberry Girl, Miracles on Maple Hill, The Wheel on the School, Rabbit Hill, and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962).  I'd like to discuss the best way to teach these novels.  For many students they are a chore to read because of difficult vocabulary, complex sentence structure, and sometimes unfamiliar situations and stilted dialogue.  I'm determined, however, to make these classics accessible to more than the gifted readers.

Thoughts and ideas? 

5 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted March 16, 2009 at 4:14 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Penguin Readers, high-interest/low-vocabulary condensed versions of classic literature, make great resources for trying to teach traditional lit to lower-level students.

Earlier this year in one of my SLD classes, we used the Penguin Reader version of Jack London's "Call of the Wild." The kids got really addicted to the plot and wanted desperately to find out what was going to happen next. The reading level was kept at about a third-to-fifth grade standard, but the students were still able to learn all of the novel's elements, and many wanted to seek out the unabridged version when we were done.

If you're wanting to get kids hooked on the classics, my recommendation is definitely Penguin Readers.

user profile pic

ask996 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Senior Educator

Posted October 22, 2010 at 7:48 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

Penguin books are an excellent resource. I cannot remember the name of the company, but there are some great graphic novel representations of "classic" literature. I used a graphic novel form of a Shakespeare play with my lower level groups, and they were much more receptive and capable of leaning from this than a merely a more simplified version. When our class began the whole class discussion of the literature they were able to hold their own as they felt confident in their knowledge of what they'd read.

user profile pic

arvwdrenth | High School Teacher | eNoter

Posted June 19, 2011 at 8:46 PM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

Students can be put off classics for life by bad teaching. To help make Shakespeare come alive for younger readers, two suggestions:

- Manga Shakespeare, published by UK Self Made Hero, uses Japanese graphic novel manga-style illustration with original text, albeit edited, to tell the gripping stories of the plays. Since they are playscripts written to be performed, a graphic style works well. Included are Dream, Hamlet, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, Lear, Merchant, Macbeth, Tempest, Twelfth Night and 3 more history plays. See them here

http://www.selfmadehero.com/books.php?imprint=1

For a BBC review, see

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6647927.stm 

- with older students, an excellent version of Shakespeare plays called The Cut Shakespeare is published by playwright Steve Gooch; see

http://www.stevegooch.info/thecutshakespeare/index.html 

The text is printed in full, though in two fonts, bold and not bold. The unemboldened text can be passed over for reading or performing purposes, but it is there for reference and research.

Steve is a practicing and successful playwright, so his cuts are sensitive both to sense and to dramatic impact. He has worked on 6 comedies, 4 tragedies and two 'romances' (Tempest and Winter's Tale). All these are especially useful if you plan to perform the text as well as read it. Would you study a musical just by reading the score? In the same way, reading Shakespeare aloud or performing it makes much more sense of his work for pupils.

user profile pic

litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 29, 2011 at 2:51 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like
This is a great idea! One thing I always tell my students is that reading a book written long ago is like going back in time. I tell kids we are going to hop in our time machine, and people will talk a little differently than they do now. They won't have things we take for granted, like iPods and cell phone or even TV. We want to be prepared, so we learn as much as we can about them before we go back in time. We study their vocabulary and culture as much as we can to get ready.
user profile pic

allora | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted January 16, 2012 at 11:08 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

Manga does work. In order for me to better understand Shakespear I myself read some mangas made about it. Another idea is something we did in class; we acted out the play as we were reading it. Some kids would add acsents if they wanted. It made the whole thing amusing to learn.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes