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  1. #21


    I like finding other books an author wrote too. I had to read two Steinbeck books for summer reading before 9th grade. I expected Of Mice and Men to be amazing, so I read Tortilla Flat first. I was blown away by Tortilla Flat, I cried over that book. Of Mice and Men, I didn't like much at all. Of course I've since heard that you usually love the first Steinbeck book you read and then anything after just doesn't feel as great.
    That was also the source of one of the most infuriating tedious assignments with a set of books. We were supposed to stop every time we saw a word we didn't know, look up the definition and write it down. We were supposed to have a certain number of words for each book. Problem is when you are working with the same author for both books by the time you get to the second book you'll have a good handle on the vocabulary and really author's tend to develop a vocabulary and writing style so it's really not that likely that you'll find as many new words in the second book. Now that I really think about it too reading a book just to find words to define probably isn't the best way to get lost in a story either.
    Teemie - 11 years old, 6th grade with an ecclectic mix

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  3. #22


    Now you can just Google "Vocabulary from Of Mice and Men" and get nicely prepped word lists before you even start reading.

  4. #23


    I liked this thread. I was a voracious reader, but always resisted assigned reading. On my own, I'd read to a certain level - Newberry Award winners and the like - but not the biggies (Shakespeare, the Russian classics, etc.). I think that the "biggies" were just too far removed from my understanding.

    Reading this thread made me realize how much effective my 8th grade English teacher was for me. I didn't have a special personal relationship with her or anything, so I hadn't classified her in my group of "best teachers," but I think I will now.

    We started the year with To Kill a Mockingbird. I had to read it over the previous summer, and I did, but only after I told my mom that I was having a hard time getting into it. She opened the book to, like, page 5 and told me to just start from there. Once she did that, no problem! It's a great story and the writing is very accessible.

    The way the teacher handled the story might not have worked for many people, but it worked like a charm for me. For one thing, we read it aloud in class - the whole thing. So, the kids who didn't read it like they were supposed to, read it anyway. And it slowed it down, and it was fun for those of us who didn't have a reading-aloud phobia.

    She required us to have highlighters in specific colors. This part sounds so directive but it really worked for me - when we came to a part that reference a certain theme or motif or whatever, she'd say "highlight these words in pink." Then we'd just move on, so we could get through the narrative without sidetracking every couple of sentences.

    After the reading, we'd discuss the motifs and such. But just highlighting them as we came to them, without dragging each down in a giant discussion, it was like turning a light bulb on for me. I really, really got it. I started seeing those themes on my own. My copy of the book was lit up like a Christmas tree, every page has highlighted words and phrases in multiple colors (there was a logic to the colors, I don't remember what, but it worked).

    After that, I could find the little "secrets" in many books, even Stephen King stuff. Most of the time, only the bigger themes are discussed in class, but marking every little one allowed me to see more than the main ones. In high school, I'd usually write my papers on smaller motifs, and I think the teachers liked getting a little variety.

  5. #24


    I loved my literature classes in High School. To be able to read and have that count for school work to me was the absolute best. They all intrigued me and I just loved the discussions about the books in class. I am a geek so that may explain it, but oh it was heaven for me. My favorite was Of Human Bondage. Of mice and Men, Lord of the Flies, the Great Gatsby, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities - I don't think I would read them again, but I enjoyed them at the time. Wuthering Heights was my first exposure to crazy (besides my Mom - but I didn't know she was crazy yet) and I really liked discussing what was going through Heathcliff's mind. Little Women I did not read in school, I read it later because I was named for Beth. I remember being mad at my Mom, why the heck did you name me after Beth she is way too passive - I was definitely a Joe. It does explain why I came to Homeschool through the back door, I think when your memories of public school are often very positive, you aren't as quick to jump to HS and my memories of high school literature positively glow.
    DS16 with ASD, DD12 and DS10

  6. #25


    For me there are two distinct tracks - what I read for school and what I read when I wasn't in school. I would spend my entire summer on the couch reading. The only way my mom could get me off the couch was to take me to the library or to the swimming pool.

    In school this is what I remember reading in jr high and high school (though I might be mixing up required with pleasure reading)

    lots of Shakespeare (I think I have read almost all of the plays) - I loved Shakespeare in high school and my school let you choose your classes with a specific focus, so I took every Shakespeare class offered.

    Death of a Salesman, Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie: I loved the plays, the angst that goes on, so much like a teenagers life. I remember reading these multiple times as a teen.

    lots of American poetry - Still love poetry. Reading it, writing it.

    Siddhartha - This book was very formative and is probably one of my favorite books from high school.

    the Bible as literature - This a great class. I was an exchange student in Israel the semester before and I was very interested in the historical aspects of the bible. It was a great class and the teacher handled the students and the subject well.

    The Outsiders - I read this just before the movie came out. Loved it at a teen. Perfect for my teenage heart. And then when the movie came out, swoon!

    Edgar Allen Poe's stories - This was the kind of horror I loved. Add the Vincent Price interpretations made them more fun!

    Lord of the Flies - meh - nothing to add to what others have already said.

    The Good Earth - Great novel that showed me a part of the world that was unfamiliar to me.

    1984 - Helped form my conspiracy theories about society

    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl - I was deeply fascinated with WWII.

    To Kill a Mockingbird - So sad, yet very formative to the issues of injustice.

    Lots of American short stories, like Hemingway and The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

    On my own:
    Wuthering Heights - Oh Heathcliff!
    Edith Wharton's books - the class issue is what stuck with me
    Gone with the Wind - While I deplore some of the themes in the book today, I loved the book as a teen.
    Flowers for Algernon - It was so sad. I didn't know what to do with it.
    The Bell Jar Same. I liked the story, but I couldn't relate.
    Fahrenheit 451, Halloween Tree and other Ray Bradbury short stories - Love, love, love Fahrenheit 451. A reminder of what the future could be if we don't maintain the freedom of reading.
    James Mitchner books (Alaska, Hawaii, The Source, etc.) Love the historical fiction
    Go Ask Alice - More sadness
    The Chocolate War - For some reason I remember reading the book, but not much about it.
    Jackie Collins - Hollywood Wives and other trashy novels, much to my mother's chagrin.
    Judy Blume - Forever - teen sex!
    Lots of books whose titles escape me that were never on any must read list, mostly mysteries, time travel, and historical fiction, with some supernatural thrown in.
    Lots of non-fiction about supernatural, astrology, sports, religion, history - especially WWII and the Civil War, biographies
    Last edited by Mariam; 04-23-2015 at 12:21 AM.

  7. #26


    Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger.

    I'm one of the few people in the world who doesn't hate Salinger. In fact, I quite loved Nine Stories and all the tales of the Glass family. I liked Catcher quite a lot.

    Hated all things Charles Dickens. With a passion.

    Loved The Dubliners (James Joyce), Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck)

    I love that they're teaching Sherman Alexie in highschool now, because he's one of my all time favorites, and The Absolutely true Diary of a Part-Time a gorgeous book. I was stunned when Elle read him for AP English.
    Retired Home Schooler
    One kid, Elle, Sophomore at The University of Michigan studying Cell/ Molecular Biology Go Blue!
    One hubby, 23yrs

    Not a fan of homophobe, Everett Piper, who is sometimes promoted by others at this site. Read about him here::
    CAUTION: might make blasphemous remarks that could potentially offend religious people. Please use ignore feature if sensitive.

  8. #27


    Required/school books in high school, and my reactions to them:

    Catcher in the Rye: skimmed it, deemed it shallow, boring, and smutty, didn't bother to tune back into class for a while
    The Great Gastby: Hated it! As bad as "Thirtysoming" in terms of getting bored to death with privileged people and their self-indulgent self-pity, and their general selfishness. Didn't even finish it; couldn't force myself to.
    James Joyce: a Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: BO-RING!
    The Grapes of Wrath: loved it, though it was a bit too Faulkner-esque...I knew depressive all too well and didn't find it any kind of novelty. But loved Grapes of Wrath.

    As I Lay Dying, by Faulkner: YUCK! I get it, I got it. Perhaps too well because of having lived some things most hadn't in my tender years? But I HATED it! If you had to watch a horse die of thirst, you wouldn't want to read about it later. I wrote a scathing mimicry of that, and no one got that I was being sarcastic. They loved it. I was mad.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Riveting. Loved it. Even though it was smutty, (and I was no innocent, so perhaps that is why smut didn't hold much glamor for me?), it was dazzling. Til the end, and then I wished I could wipe the ending from my mind. Still considered it artful. Just wished it could have been more uplifting. It went REALLY well with the music I was delving into at the time, though.

    Shakespeare: by the time we got to it in high school I had BTDT. I read it when I was 11, and was bored to pieces in class, in high school, even though I really liked "The Phoenix and the Turtle".

    Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky: Was studying Russian for a few years by then, so also liked reading the Russian (better, really) and really got into the depressive groove. It spoke to me. Loved it.

    The Brothers Karamazov: Not so much. It was good, I was just really thinking about other things by then. And it seemed a bit too scattered a piece.

    War and Peace by Tolsoy: Agreed with critics who tired of his incredibly long and detailed descriptions. Otherwise, liked it.

    Madame Bovary: Didn't get into it. Was into my own problems too much, perhaps.

    Lord of the Flies (9th grade) felt it was a pretty accurate assessment of how kids go bad, when left to raise and organize themselves in absence of adults. Yuck, but potently moral in its way. It became a literary touch-stone for me.

    The Canterbury Tales: Middle English was no biggie to me, and it seemed like the only depth they went into for this, in class, was exposing us to what was supposed to be a challenging form of language. I barely paid attention and still got top marks. Big deal. One of these days I will actually, as a homeschool mom, pay attention to it for the sake of my kids' cultural and historical education, and then probably be embarrassed of how blase I was about it, in high school.

    Anna Karenina: A friend begged a favor, a huge favor, that I ghost-write an essay for that person, because that person had a really important competition to attend at the same time, and... knowing better, I went and did it. yes, it was cheating. yes, it was wrong. Yes, I stayed up all night and typed a paper on that book, for that person. And yes, I chewed on the bitter fruit long after, when that person's essay, that I wrote, got school-wide acclaim, and no one could ever know it was my work. Gosh darnit. I don't even know if I turned in that essay, for myself. Might have taken an F. What a fool I was! But in the long run, it didn't matter. But if I had a do-over, I wish I could have told that person they ought to have been ashamed for even asking me such a thing, and roundly turned by back on them, because I lost respect for them, thereafter.
    Middle-aged mom of 4 kids spanning a 10-year age range, homeschooling since 2009, and a public school mom also, since 2017.

  9. #28


    Quote Originally Posted by crunchynerd View Post
    I stayed up all night and typed a paper on that book, for that person.
    I'm tellin'!

  10. #29


    Quote Originally Posted by ikslo View Post
    I'm tellin'!
    Believe me, the punishment fit the crime: I learned the hard way, that doing that kind of favor wasn't worth it, and had to grit my teeth and bear it silently, when the whole school seemed to decide that this paper was worth raving about. And because I wrote it for someone else, I didn't get mine done. And had to live with it.

    Sometimes natural consequences are really the best teachers.
    Middle-aged mom of 4 kids spanning a 10-year age range, homeschooling since 2009, and a public school mom also, since 2017.

  11. #30


    With any justice, the person who received credit for the paper was ashamed too.
    So a lesson for both of you.
    And over something with no real lasting consequences.

    I really feel like I hated everything I was forced to read in school starting with Middle School.

    Movin forward, I hope DS has been enjoying the books that are read to him. He claims to enjoy all of them, so far, at least. I hope the trend continues. Hes *finally* starting to read for pleasure on his own.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

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