These 10 American Literature Classics Still Belong on Your Syllabus


There are certain books that have earned themselves a permanent place on literature enthusiasts’ shelves and educators’ syllabi across the globe. The following ten American literature classics still possess significant relevance in today’s world and continue to leave a lasting impression on readers of all ages.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

This timeless novel explores themes such as racism, prejudice, and moral growth through the eyes of a young child in the Deep South.

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Fitzgerald’s masterpiece offers a glimpse into the decadence, ambition, and shattered ideals of the Jazz Age while serving as an exploration of identity, class, and materialism.

3. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

This epic tale of one man’s obsessive quest to hunt down an elusive and legendary white whale is a intricate allegory for the human condition, nature’s power, and the depths of the human spirit.

4. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

Hawthorne’s gothic romance delves into the themes of guilt, repentance, and personal identity as it follows Hester Prynne after she is branded with a red letter “A” for her act of adultery.

5. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)

Widely regarded as a great American masterpiece, Mark Twain’s novel follows the journey of Huck Finn and his friend Jim down the Mississippi River as they learn about friendship, freedom, and societal hypocrisy.

6. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)

Salinger’s coming-of-age novel fascinates generations with its poignant portrayal of teenage angst, rebellion, alienation, and disillusionment as experienced by the protagonist, Holden Caulfield.

7. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1939)

This heart-wrenching saga tells the story of the Joad family during the Great Depression and their quest to find a better life in California, ultimately revealing the resilience and strength of the human spirit in face of adversity.

8. The Crucible by Arthur Miller (1953)

Miller’s play serves as a powerful parable about mass hysteria and the dangers of extremism through its dramatization of historical Salem witch trials, reflecting its contemporary context of McCarthyism in 1950s America.

9. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (1952)

This groundbreaking novel addresses complex issues related to race, identity, and personal discovery while exploring different aspects of Black American experience in the 20th century.

10. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)

Hurston’s classic work is a testament to personal strength and self-identity as it follows Janie Crawford on her journey through multiple marriages, hardships, and ultimately self-discovery.


These ten American literature classics defy the passage of time by remaining relevant to modern society. Whether you are an educator crafting your syllabus or an avid reader seeking thought-provoking novels, these powerful works should undoubtedly have a place on your bookshelf.

Teaching With Toni Morrison: A Journey Through Her Literature and Life


Toni Morrison was a prolific American writer and educator, known for her powerful storytelling and vivid characters. Her works have become seminal texts in many high school and college English classrooms. In this article, we will discuss the importance of teaching with Toni Morrison, how her literature can be used to spark important conversations among students, and the impact of her writings on individual growth and cultural understanding.

Toni Morrison’s Contributions to Literature

Toni Morrison’s work is characterized by its exploration of complex themes such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, and cultural identity. Her novels include “The Bluest Eye,” “Sula,” “Song of Solomon,” and the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Beloved.” In addition to providing captivating narratives, these stories offer valuable insights into the human experience.

The Value of Teaching with Toni Morrison

Teaching with Toni Morrison presents a unique opportunity for students to engage with enduring themes in literature while fostering empathy and critical thinking skills. By reading her works, students are challenged to confront their preconceptions about race and gender roles and examine the intersectionality of various kinds of marginalization.

Classroom Strategies for Engaging Students with Toni Morrison’s Work

Morrison’s work is rich in symbolism, offering opportunities for in-depth analysis. Teachers can encourage students to identify recurring motifs in her books such as dreams, community relationships, self-acceptance, and healing. This process will deepen their understanding of the characters’ struggles and motivations.

One effective teaching strategy is to use Socratic seminars or small group discussions to facilitate conversation around themes present in Morrison’s novels. This allows students to develop their analytical skills through active listening and collaboration. Additionally, providing historical context surrounding each novel can give students a greater appreciation for the significance of the narrative.

Incorporating related art forms such as film adaptations or visual depictions of scenes from Morrison’s novels can engage students with different learning styles. For example, including the film adaptation of “Beloved” directed by Jonathan Demme can enhance students’ understanding of the novel and deepen their connection to its themes.

Morrison’s Impact on Individual Growth and Cultural Understanding

Toni Morrison’s novels do more than entertain and educate; they empower and challenge readers to re-evaluate their understanding of the world around them. By incorporating her novels into the curriculum, educators can inspire students to question societal norms, seek their own truth, and develop empathy for others.


Teaching with Toni Morrison’s literature brings profound contemporary relevance to the classroom. The richness of her prose, the depth of her themes, and her compassionate exploration of the human experience make her work an invaluable resource for students of all backgrounds. By engaging students in Morrison’s literary world, we are equipping them with critical thinking skills and fostering cultural understanding that will benefit them throughout their lives.

12 Activities to Celebrate Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh, the delightful bear created by A.A. Milne, has captured the hearts of children and adults alike for generations. With his adorable friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, Pooh Bear teaches us valuable lessons about friendship, love, courage, and kindness. If you’re planning to celebrate Winnie the Pooh, here are 12 fun and engaging activities to make your event memorable.

1. Honey Pot Hunt: Hide small honey pots around the party area filled with treats or trinkets. Have guests search for them and discover what’s inside.

2. Pooh Bear Dress-Up: Encourage guests to come dressed as their favorite characters from the Hundred Acre Wood, such as Tigger, Piglet, Eeyore, and Rabbit.

3. Pin the Tail on Eeyore: Create a classic twist on “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” by using an image of Eeyore and providing a detachable tail with double-sided tape.

4. Tigger’s Bounce Race: Organize a bounce race where participants must jump like Tigger while racing to the finish line.

5. Heffalump Balloon Pop: Draw faces of Heffalumps on green balloons and ask participants to stomp or pop them to save the Hundred Acre Wood from these mysterious creatures.

6. Musical Honey Pots: Play musical chairs but replace chairs with honey pots images placed on the ground. When someone gets eliminated, reward them with a sweet honey-based treat!

7. Winnie’s Guessing Game: Fill a jar with red or orange gummy bears and have participants guess how many are inside – the closest guess wins a prize!

8. Make Your Own Honeycomb Snacks: Provide guests with pretzel sticks and melted honey for dipping to create fun honeycomb-shaped snacks.

9. Story Time: Gather everyone to enjoy a reading of a classic Winnie the Pooh story. You can even invite a “guest reader” to dress up as their favorite character and read aloud.

10. Create-Your-Own 100-Acre Wood: Set up a craft station with various materials for guests to create their own 100 Acre Wood scene, complete with trees, flowers, and adorable woodland creatures.

11. Pass the Heffalump: Sitting in a circle, pass around a small stuffed Heffalump while playing music. When the music stops, the person holding the Heffalump is given a small prize or an extra turn to play another game.

12. Pooh-themed Coloring Pages: Print out your favorite scenes from the Hundred Acre Wood and provide coloring supplies for guests to relax and create their own artwork.

With these activities, your Winnie the Pooh celebration will be full of fun, laughter, and cherished memories with friends and family. Don’t forget to capture those treasured moments to share!

The 2018 Reading Challenge

As the bells chimed to mark the beginning of 2018, millions of readers around the world embarked on an incredible journey: The 2018 Reading Challenge. This enchanting endeavor was designed to inspire bibliophiles to expand their literary horizons and discover new authors, genres, and perspectives. The challenge took participants on an unforgettable adventure through the pages of unexplored books and encouraged them to step out of their comfort zones.

The challenge consisted of various prompts and objectives that allowed each reader to create a unique reading list tailored to their interests. The participants were encouraged to choose books that aligned with specific themes, such as a unique setting or written by an author from a different culture. This ensured that readers delved into uncharted territories and widened their understanding of diverse perspectives.

One of the most exciting aspects of the 2018 Reading Challenge was the sense of camaraderie experienced among participants. Readers from all walks of life came together to share their book selections, progress, and insights on social media platforms. Online book clubs, reading groups, and discussion forums created a lively community where enthusiasts could connect with fellow bookworms and exchange recommendations.

The challenge rekindled a love for reading among many who had lost touch with their inner bibliophile. Parents shared this passion with their children and extended family members as it provided an opportunity to bond over a shared hobby. This strengthened family relations and paved the way for meaningful conversations centered around literature.

Several celebrities also jumped on board the 2018 Reading Challenge bandwagon, sharing their personal reading goals and inspiring fans world-wide. Oprah Winfrey’s Book Club selections captured widespread attention as did Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine book picks. These public figures played a significant role in popularizing book discussions and fostering interest in contemporary authors and works.

During the challenge, readers were encouraged not only to tackle difficult books but also explore different formats, such as graphic novels and audiobooks. This allowed time-strapped or reluctant readers to participate in the challenge too, making it more inclusive and accessible.

The impact of the 2018 Reading Challenge on the publishing industry was substantial. It contributed to an increase in book sales, translated into strong support for local libraries, and sparked interest in previously overlooked titles.

As participants reached the finish line of the challenge, they looked back on their literary exploits with a sense of accomplishment and pride. The challenge had profoundly broadened their perspectives, built newfound friendships, and reinvigorated their zeal for reading.

In conclusion, the 2018 Reading Challenge was a resounding success that resonated with book lovers around the globe. Fueled by a collective desire to explore unfamiliar grounds and a passion for literature, this challenge transcended borders and unified readers into an ever-growing community of lifelong learners. Future reading challenges will undoubtedly continue this tradition of enlightenment and camaraderie, inspiring generations to come.

8 YA Reads to Spark Authentic Discussions About Drugs and Alcohol


Talking about drugs and alcohol with young adults can be a delicate matter. One way to approach this topic is to introduce thought-provoking young adult (YA) literature that addresses drug and alcohol use among teens. These novels offer authentic and engaging narratives, which can spark meaningful conversations. Here are eight YA reads that tackle the complexities of substance abuse and the impact it has on an individual’s life.

1. “Go Ask Alice” by Anonymous

This classic novel presents the issue of drug addiction through a teenage girl’s diary entries. “Go Ask Alice” chronicles her descent into drug addiction, as she navigates two worlds – her sober life where she tries to fit in, and her secret life as a drug user.

2. “Crank” by Ellen Hopkins

Written in verse, “Crank” explores the life of Kristina, a seemingly perfect teenage girl who becomes addicted to crystal meth after a chaotic introduction to the drug. The story follows Kristina as she struggles to balance her addiction with her everyday life and relationships.

3. “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson

While not focused solely on substance abuse, Speak covers difficult topics including trauma, mental health, recovery, and self-expression. The protagonist, Melinda Sordino, turns to drugs and alcohol as coping mechanisms after enduring a traumatic event.

4. “The Spectacular Now” by Tim Tharp

Sutter Keely is an outgoing high school senior who enjoys partying and drinking but avoids thinking about his future. When he befriends Aimee Finecky, a socially awkward girl with dreams of escaping their small town life, they both experience personal growth while confronting their own issues with substance use.

5. “Junk” by Melvin Burgess This controversial novel pulls no punches when discussing drugs and their consequences through the eyes of Tar and Gemma, two teenagers experimenting with the world of drugs. “Junk” offers a raw and honest portrayal of the consequences they face as a result of their choices and addiction.

6. “Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines” by Nic Sheff

Noteworthy due to it being a memoir, “Tweak” chronicles the real-life experiences of author Nic Sheff as he becomes addicted to crystal meth during his teenage years. This brutally honest account details how addiction impacted every aspect of his life and is an important read for understanding the darker side of substance abuse.

7. “Lucy in the Sky” by Anonymous

Similar to “Go Ask Alice,” this book offers another anonymous diary-style account of teenage drug addiction. Lucy struggles with her innocence and desire for new experiences while ultimately being drawn into the world of drug use. This exploration of experimentation provides readers with a realistic view of how easily addiction can take control.

8. “Looking for Alaska” by John Green

Although not centered around drug use, John Green’s coming-of-age novel showcases characters who experiment with alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs as part of their journey towards self-discovery. The novel raises essential questions about consequences, friendships, and life choices.


These eight YA novels offer authentic representations of substance abuse and its impact on teenagers. By discussing these stories with young adults, parents and educators can initiate open conversations about drugs, alcohol, and their potential repercussions on an individual’s life. It’s vital that these discussions occur, fostering awareness and helping teens make informed decisions about their own lives.

7 Great Narrative Lesson Plans Students and Teachers Love


Narrative writing is a crucial skill for young learners, as it helps them develop their creativity, communication, and storytelling abilities. Having captivating narrative lesson plans in place can not only keep the students engaged but also foster their love for writing. Teachers can use these seven great narrative lesson plans to inspire creativity and bring out the best in their students.

1. Exploring Personal Narratives:

This lesson plan introduces personal narratives by examining various short stories and personal essays. After reading several examples, students will be encouraged to share their own life experiences and write a personal narrative. Through peer feedback and teacher guidance, students will learn to create a compelling story with an engaging narrative.

2. Sensory Detail Exploration:

To enhance the vividness of writing, this lesson plan focuses on incorporating sensory details into narratives. Students will participate in various sensory activities to understand how descriptive language can impact their storytelling. They will then practice using sensory details in their writing to create more immersive narratives.

3. Creating Characters:

Characters are at the heart of any great narrative. In this lesson plan, students will explore various techniques to create unique and memorable characters by analyzing examples from literature and other media forms. Utilizing character profiles and brainstorming sessions, learners will develop their own characters who will feature prominently in their stories.

4. Show, Don’t Tell:

Teaching students how to “show” rather than “tell” in their narratives is essential for making stories come alive. This lesson involves studying examples and participating in class discussions that illuminate this particular writing technique. Students will then put this into practice by rewriting sections of their narratives that need more “showing” than “telling.”

5. Crafting Dialogue:

Dialogue can make or break a story; hence mastering how to write dialogue effectively is vital for any narrative writer. This lesson covers basic punctuation rules, dialogue tags, keeping conversations natural, and building character through dialogue. Students will practice writing and revising dialogue-driven scenes to improve their understanding and application.

6. Plot Structure and Pacing:

To write a compelling narrative, students must learn the art of structuring their story and maintaining appropriate pacing. This lesson dives into the elements of a plot, common structures, and pacing techniques. By mapping out their stories, students will gain a better understanding of how to develop engaging narratives that maintain a reader’s interest.

7. Editing and Revising:

The final step is all about refining the narrative through editing and revising. Using teacher guidance, checklists, and peer reviews, students will go through multiple drafts of their narratives to reach polished, best versions. Lessons on grammar, punctuation, and eliminating wordiness will aid in producing more professional narratives.


As both teachers and students embark on this journey through narrative writing, these seven lesson plans provide a foundation for success. By exploring various aspects of narratives – from personal stories to character development and plot structures – budding writers can cultivate captivating storytelling techniques that inspire readers, one tale at a time.

10 Easy Steps for Writing a Literature Review

A literature review is an essential part of any research project or thesis, as it demonstrates your understanding of the subject, highlights gaps in existing knowledge, and helps guide your research. Writing a literature review may seem daunting, but following these ten easy steps can help simplify the process.

1. Define Your Research Question: Start by narrowing down your topic and framing a focused research question to guide your literature review.

2. Develop a Search Strategy: Create a list of relevant keywords, synonyms, and phrases related to your research question. Use them to search for articles, books, and other sources in library catalogs, databases, and online search engines.

3. Set Inclusion and Exclusion Criteria: Determine what types of sources you will include in your literature review, such as academic articles, books, or conference papers. Also set exclusion criteria for sources that do not meet your requirements.

4. Organize Your Sources: As you collect sources, create a system for organizing them by theme, date, methodology, or author. This will make it easier to analyze and compare the sources later.

5. Read and Take Notes: Carefully read each source and take notes on the main arguments, methods used, findings, and any gaps or limitations you notice in the research. This will make writing the literature review more efficient.

6. Analyze the Sources: Evaluate the quality of each source and how it contributes to your overall understanding of the topic. Assess its relevance to your research question and identify any patterns or trends in the literature.

7. Identify Gaps in Knowledge: Based on your analysis of the sources, pinpoint areas where further research is needed or where previous studies have been inconclusive.

8. Synthesize Your Findings: Write an overview of what you’ve learned from the literature review by summarizing common themes, debates within the field, and important findings related to your research question.

9. Structure the Review: Organize your literature review by themes or chronological order, guiding readers through the development of the subject over time or comparing different approaches to the research question.

10. Edit and Revise: Proofread your literature review, ensuring that it flows well and is formatted according to your institution’s requirements. Double-check citations and references, and be prepared to revise and rewrite sections for clarity and coherence.

By following these ten easy steps, you will be well on your way to writing a comprehensive literature review that effectively supports your research project or thesis. Remember, persistence, patience, and organization are critical factors in successful literature review writing.

13 Literary Devices to Supercharge your Writing Skills

In the realm of literature, writers employ various devices to enhance their work and captivate readers. Literary devices are techniques used by writers to create deeper meaning, generate interest, and convey emotions more effectively. Mastering these can help set your writing apart and make it more captivating for readers. Here are 13 literary devices that can supercharge your writing skills:

1. Simile: A simile is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike objects using the words “like” or “as.” Example: Her eyes sparkled like stars.

2. Metaphor: A metaphor compares two seemingly unrelated things without using “like” or “as.” Example: The world is a stage, and we are all actors.

3. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of nearby words. Example: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

4. Onomatopoeia: Onomatopoeia refers to words that imitate the sounds they describe. Example: The bees buzzed as they collected nectar.

5. Hyperbole: Hyperbole involves exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally. Example: I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate!

6. Personification: Personification attributes human qualities to non-human things or abstract ideas. Example: The wind whispered through the trees.

7. Oxymoron: An oxymoron combines contradictory terms in a single expression. Example: She was beautifully marred by her mysterious past.

8. Irony: Irony is when the intended meaning of a statement or situation is opposite to its literal meaning. Example: Saying “Oh, great!” when something goes wrong.

9. Imagery: Imagery uses descriptive language to paint vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. It helps them visualize and experience the events more intensely. Example: The golden sun dipped below the horizon, staining the sky vibrant shades of orange and pink.

10. Allusion: Allusion is a reference to another piece of literature, historical events, or famous individuals within a written work. Example: The struggling artist lived in such a tiny apartment that it seemed more like a broom closet than a living space, reminiscent of Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs.

11. Foreshadowing: Foreshadowing hints at future events that will take place in the story, building anticipation and suspense. Example: A character receiving ominous warnings before an accident occurs.

12. Symbolism: Symbolism involves using symbols to represent ideas or qualities. These can be objects, actions, events, or even colors that suggest deeper meanings beyond their literal sense. Example: A broken mirror may symbolize shattered hopes or damaged relationships.

13. Repetition: Repetition is the deliberate use of the same word, phrase, or structure multiple times for emphasis and effect. Example: Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech.

By incorporating these literary devices into your own writing, you can create more engaging and powerful content that resonates with readers. Practice using them in combination to weave rich narratives and bring your characters and settings to life. With time and dedication, you’ll notice your writing skills progress and your storytelling prowess flourish along the way.

A Comprehensive Collection of Charlotte’s Web Resources for Teachers and Students


E.B. White’s classic children’s novel, “Charlotte’s Web,” has enchanted readers of all ages for generations. It tells the heartwarming story of a young pig named Wilbur and his friendship with a wise and nurturing spider named Charlotte. The book goes beyond merely entertaining and imparts invaluable life lessons about friendship, empathy, and selflessness for young readers. To help teachers and students dive deeper into this literary masterpiece, we’ve compiled a massive collection of resources that will enrich your “Charlotte’s Web” experience.

Lesson Plans & Activities:

1. Story Mapping – As students read through the novel, they can create visual representations of each chapter or plot point to track the story’s progression. This activity helps improve narrative comprehension and encourages active engagement with the text.

2. Character Analysis – Have students select a character from the book and write an in-depth analysis exploring that character’s motives, relationships, and personal growth throughout the story.

3. Compare & Contrast – Organize group discussions comparing “Charlotte’s Web” to other children’s literature classics like “The Secret Garden” or “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” to encourage critical thinking about themes, styles, and context of various works.

4. Vocabulary Building – Use online vocabulary lists specific to “Charlotte’s Web” to introduce students to new words found in the book while improving their reading comprehension skills.

5. Art Connection – Encourage students to create illustrations inspired by scenes or characters from the book to deepen their connections with the content.

Online Resources:

1. Scholastic []: Scholastic offers comprehensive lesson plans, printable worksheets, discussion questions, and interactive whiteboard activities connected to Charlotte’s Web.

2. Education World []: Education World provides a collection of resources, including chapter summaries, teaching guides, worksheets, and quizzes for teachers to use in their classroom.

3. ReadWriteThink []: ReadWriteThink offers a selection of engaging activities and lesson ideas related to “Charlotte’s Web” for various grade levels.

4. TeachersPayTeachers []: A wealth of lesson plans, worksheets, and activities from fellow educators are available for purchase on TeachersPayTeachers.

5. Global Read Aloud []: Global Read Aloud has an extensive list of resources categorized by chapters, ranging from blog posts to videos demonstrating activities that can be used in conjunction with the book.


E.B. White’s timeless story of friendship and love continues to resonate with both teachers and students today. With this extensive collection of resources at your disposal, you’re well-equipped to lead thoughtful discussions, memorable activities, and create meaningful connections with your students using “Charlotte’s Web” as the foundation for learning. So grab your copy of “Charlotte’s Web,” immerse yourself in the world of Wilbur and Charlotte, and make lasting memories with your students during this unforgettable literary journey.

The Elements of Literature


Literature is a significant aspect of human culture and plays a vital role in expressing stories, ideas, and emotions. It offers a window into the lives of people from different times, places, and perspectives, sparking curiosity and empathy in readers. To fully appreciate literature and develop critical thinking skills, students and teachers must grasp the essential elements that construct a piece of literature. This article delves into these fundamental building blocks to provide a guide for understanding and analyzing literary works.

1. Plot

The plot is the sequence of events that unfolds through the course of a story. It provides structure and direction, taking the reader on a journey with its characters. The plot often follows a traditional arc, consisting of an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

2. Character

Characters are the individuals who populate a story, each with their personalities, motivations, desires, and conflicts. They propel the narrative forward through their interactions with one another. Characters are normally classified as protagonists (central to the story) or antagonists (opposing protagonists). They may also be developed (dynamic) or static (unchanging) characters.

3. Setting

Setting refers to the environment in which the story takes place: geographical location, historical period or time frame, social context, and even weather conditions. The setting is essential because it establishes context and can profoundly influence characters’ actions and decisions.

4. Theme

The theme is the central idea or message that underlies a literary work. Often universal— touching on topics such as love, death, family, or friendship— themes help convey the author’s worldview or stance and can evoke emotional responses from readers. Identifying themes requires critical thinking skills to recognize recurring patterns and symbols throughout the text.

5. Point of View

Point of view pertains to who narrates or tells a story. The perspective from which a story is told can significantly affect how readers perceive events and characters. Common points of view include first person, second person, and third person (limited and omniscient).

6. Mood

Mood refers to the atmosphere or emotional tone a writer establishes within a work. The mood is an essential aspect of literature as it engages the reader emotionally and creates a sensory experience. Through effective use of diction, imagery, and pacing, authors can evoke specific moods that complement the themes and plot.

7. Tone

Tone expresses the author’s attitude or outlook towards the subject matter, characters, or readers. An author’s choice of words, syntax, punctuation, and even formatting can convey the tone of a piece of literature. Distinguishing between tone and mood can be challenging; however, identifying the tone can enhance understanding and appreciation of a text.


Understanding these fundamental elements of literature – plot, character, setting, theme, point of view, mood, and tone – provides students and teachers with a roadmap to navigate through complex narratives while fostering critical thinking skills. By exploring these components in depth, readers better appreciate the structure, meaning, and artistic value of literary works while nurturing empathy for different times and cultures.