Reading books by great American authors with a group is even better than reading them alone! Homeschool co-ops, book clubs, day schools and the like provide wonderful chances to engage in group activities based on the books in the American Literature curriculum. Additionally, crafting interesting writing assignments from the books you’ve read enrich the learning.
High School American Literature Activities
Here are some writing assignments and group activities I’ve enjoyed with the high school American Lit. students I’ve worked with this year:
From Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451:
If you had to preserve only one book (other than the Bible), what book would you choose, and why? Great for discussion or as a writing prompt!
From New Journalism, like Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff:
Report on an event in your local area (or even something silly that happened in your own home), but write about in the style of New Journalism. Tell the facts accurately, but tell it with a particular voice, use colorful and descriptive prose, and let your personality show.
From Isaac Asimov’s I Robot:
People feared the power that advancing technology would have on the world. Take a look at the power of the smartphone, the internet, the constant connection that is virtual but feels real. How well did Asimov predict the world to come?
From A Raisin in the Sun:
Watch a performance on DVD or YouTube. Discuss the elements that were more or less powerful on the screen than on the printed page. Or hold a readers theater event and read the play aloud together. (For more on readers theater, check out my post with tips for making it a smash!)
From various selections of poetry:
Focus on responding to a poem rather than analyzing it. Use your 5 senses and imagine the impact of the poem on each of them.
From Henry David Thoreau’s Walden:
If you were going to try an “experiment” like Thoreau’s self-sufficient life at Walden Pond, where would you go? What would you need to prepare first? What would your goal be?
From various Christian fiction:
Explore ethical dilemmas that are created by times of war or other circumstances where lying may seem necessary, or where murder seems justified.
From books with a strong plot line like The Scarlet Letter:
Practice inferential reading skills. Stop 1/3 of the way into the story and predict the various ways the plot might logically develop from there. What will happen next?
Do you have ideas to share for enriching your homeschool’s study of American Literature?