What is A Tale of Two Cities about and do you recommend it for an eighth grader in English 1?
I have been enjoying reading classics and I think I might try this one, but I am not sure I would enjoy it.
I understand English I as freshman, and I do think they can understand if you teach it with a good deal of attention to structure to help them keep the plot together, for if they do this, they will remain interested and understand the themes better. It is excellent to teach in an interdiscplinary way, combining history, visual art, music. I believe (but am not sure) there is a web-quest on this text on the internet, yet if there isn't one, it would be a great opportunity to create one. this would allow the students to research the important ideas, including visuals of the scenes, creating projects around these. Enotes has excellent information to help.
I used Tale as an "independent project" in a sophomore class, where a group of 4 students read it, wrote papers on it, and created a collage on its themes, performing all of this for the class. With the research they did, they understood the novel well and found it interesting to read.
I have taught A tale of Two Cities to an eighth grader in a home school group. He was pretty advanced but he loved it. It is my favorite Dickens novel and one of my favorite novels of all time. The answer above gives the basic plot line, but the theme of the book, I believe, goes beyond the concept of sacrifice to the concept human redemption. Sidney Carton lives a life that has little meaning to it but in the end he takes one action that redeems his life and gives it immense meaning. I also believe it is one of the most accessible of Dickens novels for a novice Dickens reader. I encourage you to read it especially with the help of the enotes summaries and commentaries that are available. Let me know how you are doing with the book and if you have any questions.