Tag Archives: classic

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

This is a classic science fiction story that is referenced on a regular basis. I had never read it and decided to rectify that hole in my reading list.

Published: 1953 originally. My edition had end notes from 1979 and 1982 as well

Genre: science fiction dystopia

Length: 179 pages

Setting: an American city sometime in an alternate future Continue reading


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Lord of the Flies by William Golding

I picked out this book for Mr. Curiosity and read it to be able to discuss it with him. He recently finished Swiss Family Robinson and thought this book might be a contemporary, contrasting take on the “stranded on a desert island” trope.

Published: 1954

Genre: YA fiction

Length: 202 pages

Setting: a desert in the Pacific Ocean, during WWII Continue reading

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Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

This is an old review of a book I picked up because it was on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels of the century list, and it fulfilled a classics square on the library summer reading challenge that year.

Published: 1900 (since it was published before current copyright law, you can read it for free from gutenberg.org as well)

Genre: classics

Length: 416 pages

Setting: various locations throughout the world, late 1800s Continue reading

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Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

This is a classic kid’s book. We’ve got the second book in the series on the shelf, which I kept wanting to read. Better read the first in the series before the second. It was a nice change of pace from our last read aloud, The Last Unicorn.

Published: 1972

Genre: middle grade survival fiction

Length: 170 pages

Setting: northern Alaska, 1960s Continue reading

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The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

This book has popped up a few times recently being described in glowing terms as a classic fantasy novel. I had never read it, so I decided to take care of that lack by reading it to my kids. I’ve never seen the movie, either – should I?

Published: 1968

Genre: YA fantasy

Length: 212 pages

Setting: a medieval-age world Continue reading

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The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

When I was looking for some “literature” books to give to Mr. Curiosity to read this year, The Outsiders was commonly suggested. It seemed age appropriate and well received by many people, so I decided to go for it. I’m reading all the books I’m assigning him to read so we can talk about them. I don’t think I ever read this one in school (or saw the movie). I can’t really remember what books I read in middle school English, but I do know if I’ve read a book before after I start reading it.

Published: 1967 (so it’s not like it was too new for me to have read in middle school, unlike, say, The Giver)

Genre: YA fiction

Length: 180 pages

Setting: outskirts of a big city (for some reason, I thought it was NYC), 1960s Continue reading


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Eighth-grade Literature Books

Mr. Curiosity wanted to read more literature this year. I’ve chosen books for American History Club that he might never have picked on his own, but he loved them. I think he wants more of the same. That’s a good thing, since we’re moving into a time in school when a student might be expected to read some of the classics. The question becomes, what books should we read? I’m looking for older books that many kids would read in middle school. (Newer books are easier to pick off the library shelf.) I’ve found a couple of options.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was an obvious first choice for us. It may be a bit deep for all eighth graders, but we’ve spent months practicing the play. Mr. Curiosity read it before we started the play, so he could catch more of the nuances. For those of you who haven’t read it (I never did until I was an adult), it’s about a black man being falsely accused of attacking a white woman and the town’s reaction to the situation. The topic of the book is still appropriate these days, and it helped open Mr. Curiosity’s eyes to some race conflicts.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is the next book we’re going to read. It’s used quite often in middle schools, and I’ve read many reviews about how the readers loved the characters in the book. Again, I don’t think I ever had the opportunity to read the book in school (what did I read in middle school? I can’t remember). I’m looking forward to reading it alongside Mr. Curiosity. It looks like the book shows life as a teenager fifty years ago. Styles and slang might change, but growing up and relationships don’t.

Another commonly suggested book is The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. This was one of my favorite books as a kid. It’s set in colonial America during the witchcraft scare, so a bit farther back in American history than the first two books. It probably would make a great American History Club book, but I’m not sure it’s really up Mr. Curiosity’s alley. However, he’s surprised me in the past by enjoying some well-written books that are more about relationships than action. We’ll see. I think I’ll wait a bit, though, until Miss Adventure can read it with us as well.

If I wanted to go classic science fiction book, we could read either Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, about a future America where all books are suspect and therefore burned whenever found, or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, about a society where people are engineered to fit in their place. Both show a scary world that is still completely possible, even though the books were written decades ago. I can still remember bits of Brave New World (which I did read in school) more than 20 years after reading it. Obviously, it made an impression.

I think I want to do a few short stories as well, but that is a topic for another post. Anyone remember a good book they read in middle school? Are your kids reading something good? If so, give me some more suggestions in the comments.

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