800 Literature

“The general aim of the course in English is twofold: to bring out students under the influence of the great books, and to teach them the satisfaction of superior speech.” ~Robert Frost

Elementary School

Online Children's Stories

Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature Site – A great place to find literature relevant to unit studies. The website is designed for classroom teachers but ideas can be adapted for the homeschool.

Children’s Books Forever! – Free children’s picture books that have become classics and children’s favorites around the world. Click on any cover to view the entire book with Adobe Acrobat. You can also use them on Smartboard, PowerPoint, or overhead projectors.

Children’s Literature Web Guide – A children’s literature web guide, with information about children’s literature, including teaching ideas.

Complete Library of Children’s Books Online – Indexed by Age/Interest/Reading Levels. Click on any title to read the book.

Mission to Planet 429 (reading comprehension) – MP429 is an immersive, groundbreaking educational game designed to develop reading comprehension skills in young readers ages 6-8. Grounded in scientifically-based reading research, MP429 helps first- through third-grade students build their reading skills while having fun and fantastic adventures. Tested in schools and day camps around the country in the Summer of 2010, the game exceeded all expectations at teaching second and third graders how to navigate and process nonfiction text. MP429 is grounded in three core beliefs: 1. Learning should be a fun and engaging experience for children. 2. New skills are best learned in contexts where children are able to actively use these new skills. 3. Children need to be supported and “scaffolded” as they learn new skills and knowledge. MP429 provides unlimited practice opportunities for children to participate in self-directed missions through a rich 3D browser-based virtual world where they have to figure things out using a variety of informational sources. The corresponding Classroom Applications Guide provides teachers with additional activities, reading materials, and websites. Nukotoys developed MP429 in partnership with WTTW Chicago, The Director’s Bureau, and the U.S. Department of Education. The game can be found on PBS Kids Go.

Kids Love a Mystery – Everyone loves a good mystery – especially kids. When kids enjoy something they have fun and want more, so mysteries are an ideal way to teach critical thinking, problem solving, writing, and literature. See also: History of the Mystery and Learning with Mysteries.

Nancy Polette’s Children’s Literature Guides – Nancy is featuring these sample literature guides for you to use in your classroom. View a guide in pdf format, or click “text file” to view in your browser. Includes children’s picture books and novels.

We Give Books – This site was launched in April 2010 as a joint effort by the Penguin Group and the Pearson Foundation that “combines the joy of reading with the power of helping others, providing a platform for families and educators to inspire children to become lifelong readers and lifelong givers.” It is an ever-growing library of children’s picture books that you can freely read and enjoy online. All of the books are appropriate for children through age ten. There is a mix of fiction and nonfiction, a range of authors, and an equal balance between read-alouds and books for independent readers. There is a great selection of new books as well as vintage classics, together with special seasonal offerings. You can also choose a charity you want to read for, and then for each book you read online, they donate a book to a leading literacy group on your behalf.

Middle School


Go to either the first or second website listed below and read Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet or the summary of the play. Then go to the third website listed and read the script and lyrics of the musical West Side Story. Write an essay explaining the similarities between the two plays. Include a comparison of the characters, setting, and plot.

Romeo and Juliet – This site features the entire play.

Romeo and Juliet – This site provides a summary of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

West Side Story (1961) – This site provides the script and lyrics for the film version of West Side Story.


Go to the Listening Booth (first link below) and choose a poem that is interesting to you. Read it. Then go to the Poetry Guidelines site (second link below) and follow the directions for analyzing the poem. Finally, follow the guidelines for writing and revising a poem on a similar topic.

Listening Booth – This site provides a links to poems by well-known American poets. To read the poem, click on its title. To hear it, click on the speaker icon.

Poetry Guidelines: Reading and Writing for Understanding – This site provides step-by-step guidelines on how to read and analyze poetry. It also provides step-by-step instructions for writing and revising your own poems.

High School

9th Grade Literature/Composition – The content available on the Georgia Department of Education’s Shared Resources Website is available for anyone to view. Courses are divided into modules and are aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards.

10th Grade Literature/Composition – The content available on the Georgia Department of Education’s Shared Resources Website is available for anyone to view. Courses are divided into modules and are aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards.

Advanced Composition – The content available on the Georgia Department of Education’s Shared Resources Website is available for anyone to view. Courses are divided into modules and are aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards.

Multi-volume set (package 1 Vols. A & B & package 2 vols. C, D, & E)

A great resource for teachers, students, and lovers of literature, the Norton anthology is the definitive collection of American literature. The collection offers a widespread selection, ranging from the letters of Christopher Columbus to quintessential American works like Twain’s “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and Whitman’s “Song of Myself”. Some selections fall outside of your typical definition of “literature.” All, however, have been important parts of our American artistic tradition. Literature has truly helped to define the American identity. These books are a history lesson, a journey through some of the most beautiful poetry and prose ever written, and a testament to the kind of intelligent, passionate people that have formed our country. Many college literature classes use the Norton as their text of choice; it also makes a great addition to your home library and is the basis for the course below.

American Passages: A Literary Survey – A video course on American literature; 16 half-hour video programs, instructor’s guide, study guide, and website. The video programs, print guides, and website place literary movements and authors within the context of history and culture. The course takes an expanded view of American literary movements, bringing in a diversity of voices and tracing the continuity among them. The materials, which are coordinated with the Norton Anthology of American Literature (shown above), can be used as the basis of a one or two-semester high school or college-level course or for teacher professional development. Produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting. 2003.

American Cinema – A video instructional series on film history for high school and college classrooms and adult learners; 10 one-hour and 3 half-hour video programs and coordinated books. Using clips from more than 300 of the greatest movies ever made, this series explores film history and American culture through the eyes of over 150 Hollywood insiders, including Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Eisner. In-depth treatments present film as a powerful economic force, potent twentieth-century art form, and viable career option. American Cinema connects subjects such as history, business, and English with other studies. In addition, it is a perfect vehicle for developing visual and media literacy skills and can be used as a springboard for creative-writing endeavors and media production. Produced by the New York Center for Visual History in association with KCET/Los Angeles and the BBC. 1995.

American Short Stories – This CAP develops a unit on American short stories suitable for study in the AP Literature and Composition class. Lessons on representative works of American short fiction will comprise this unit that features an analytical guide to works by Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, and William Faulkner. The unit will feature writing assignments, guided reading questions, and lessons designed to explore these literary works analytically, and the unit as a whole will represent an effective approach to studying short fiction in the Advanced Placement Literature and Composition class.

American Literature/Composition – The content available on the Georgia Department of Education’s Shared Resources Website is available for anyone to view. Courses are divided into modules and are aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards.

English Literature/Composition – The content available on the Georgia Department of Education’s Shared Resources Website is available for anyone to view. Courses are divided into modules and are aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards.

Gödel, Escher, Bach: A Mental Space Odyssey – What do one mathematician, one artist, and one musician all have in common? Although the three names allude to the very famous mathematician Kurt Gödel, the even more prominent artist M.C. Escher, and finally the musical genius Johann Sebastian Bach, this course will not be about these three remarkable individuals. So what is this course about? It will be a course in climbing mental mountains and crossing intellectual oceans, with Douglas R. Hofstadter’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Are you interested in zen Buddhism, math, fractals, logic, paradoxes, infinities, art, language, computer science, physics, music, intelligence, consciousness and unified theories? Those are some of the ideas that surround the contents of this High School course developed by MIT, which can count as literature or humanities.

Greek Mythology – A free online course from the University of Washington. No prior knowledge of either ancient civilization or literature is assumed or required for successful completion of this OpenUW course.

Gulliver’s Travels, by Jonathan Swift – A free online course from the University of Washington. Besides being a professional Christian, as priest and dean of St. Patrick’s, Swift was a thoroughly political man, always motivated by society’s injustices. It can be difficult to bring the terms Christian and political together, but Swift made it seem easy by exercising fantasy. With Gulliver’s Travels, his best-known work, Swift presents a humorous and scathing commentary on eighteenth-century England and human society in general.

Hamlet – A free online course from the University of Washington. When you have completed this OpenUW course, you will be familiar with: the story of Hamlet, the major themes in Hamlet, Hamlet’s character, the moral dilemmas that confront Hamlet, and Shakespeare’s language.

Heroic Fantasy: Tolkien – A free online course from the University of Washington. After completing this OpenUW course, you will be able to: identify elements of fantasy writing, define Tolkien’s approach to fantasy, identify some of the characteristic themes and styles employed by Tolkien, and increase your ability to read with pleasure and insight.

Invitation to World Literature – This multimedia series offers you a passport to the world’s rich heritage via 13 works of literature from a range of eras, places, cultures, languages, and traditions. These great epics, plays, poetry, and other literary texts have traveled the globe through time and translation, and are still captivating audiences today. The program invites viewers to appreciate and – most importantly – read these ancient and modern works. The 13 texts are introduced on video by a wide-ranging cast including scholars, translators, artists, and writers. Excerpts of the texts are found on an extensive website along with background material and reading support; an interactive timeline and a feature on translation; and resources for teaching and further study. (Professor David Damrosch, the lead advisor for Invitation to World Literature, is a key commentator in each of the videos. Professor Damrosch teaches Comparative Literature at Harvard University and is an internationally renowned scholar of World Literature. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, Professor Damrosch taught at Columbia University. He received his BA and Ph.D. from Yale University. ) Produced by the WGBH Educational Foundation with Seftel Productions. 2010.

Literary Visions – A video instructional series on literary analysis for high school and college classrooms and adult learners; 24 half-hour video programs and coordinated books. Noted critics, authors, scholars, and actors enliven this exploration of literature and literary analysis. Dramatizations, readings, and discussions build skills in critical thinking and writing. Illuminating excerpts of short fiction, poetry, plays, and essays – both classic and contemporary – highlight standard literary forms and devices including plot, myth, setting, and character. Produced by Intelecom and Maryland Public Television. 1992.

News Writing – A video instructional series on writing and reporting for college and high school classrooms and adult learners; 15 half-hour video programs and coordinated books. This series teaches the writing, reporting, editing, and communicating of information in the public interest. More than 100 journalists working in print, radio, and television reveal the secrets of their trade. Among those offering insights are Bob Woodward, Helen Thomas, Dave Barry, and Linda Ellerbee. Coverage of policy issues sheds light on journalism history, law, and ethics. A natural choice for students pursuing journalism or communications, News Writing is also an excellent resource for improving general writing skills, producing a school or university paper, continuing education for working journalists, or teacher professional development. Produced by Peter Berkow, journalist and educator, Shasta College, in association with KHSL-TV/Chico, CA. 1995.

Shakespeare’s Comedies – A free online course from the University of Washington. Shakespeare employs the English language with unparalleled fluency. He uses masterfully its depths and precision of meaning, its reflection of social class and regional colors, its braiding together of Romance and Germanic word stock, its synthesis of Classical, Renaissance, and homespun literary forms, and the uncommon powers of expressive richness that result when written and spoken English are fused in the literary discourse of the long reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James. When you have completed this OpenUW course, you will be familiar with: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Twelfth Night.

Speech – The content available on the Georgia Department of Education’s Shared Resources Website is available for anyone to view. Courses are divided into modules and are aligned with the Georgia Performance Standards.

Voices & Visions – A video instructional series on American poetry for high school and college classrooms and adult learners; 13 one-hour video programs. The lives and works of 13 renowned American poets are interpreted through dramatic readings, archival photographs, dance, performances, and interviews in this inspiring series. Illustrative poems in each program are accompanied by insights into their historical and cultural connections. The series covers the terminology of poetry and the larger role of poets in American and world literature studies. Poets include Langston Hughes, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman. Produced by the New York Center for Visual History. 1988.

Additional Links

Bloom’s Taxonomy – This site presents a list of the skills included in Bloom’s Taxonomy of learning—the levels of critical thinking that are a basis for all questions on the GED Language Arts, Reading Test—and key terms that are characteristic of each level.

Books Should Be Free – Thousands of free audio books from the public domain that you can download in mp3, iPod and iTunes format for your portable audio player. Books Should Be Free makes browsing for audio books fun and engaging, providing a primarily visual browsing experience.

Planet eBook – Classic literature available as free eBooks for you to download and share with friends, classmates, students, anyone!

Reading Glossary – A list of key terms that appear in Contemporary’s GED Language Arts, Reading. Click on the links within the definitions to view interactive flashcards for the key terms by chapter.

Reading Handbook – These reading terms and tips will help you prepare for the GED Language Arts Reading Test.

Analyzing Theme – This site presents information relevant to literary analysis, including constructing plot, exploring point of view, creating character, and describing setting.

Using Literary Quotations – How to use quotations in literary analysis.

Basic Elements of Theatre and Drama

Tragedy and Comedy – This site compares the characteristics of a tragic play with those of a comedic play.

Shakespeare.com – William Shakespeare eNotes.

Glencoe Literature Library – Click on a title for a brief description of the novel or play, a list of its related readings, and a link to its individual study guide. Each study guide includes background information and reproducible activity pages for students.

LitCharts – The fastest, smartest, and free-est series of literature guides on the web. Read online, print the PDF, or download the iPhone App.

Kidsource online – Classic children’s literature list.

Great Books Online – Your first stop for original texts and information about authors

Ideas for Teaching Literature and Reading

A Writer’s Guide to Literary Terms, Grammar and Style

Outline of American Literature

American Transcendentalism Web

Luminarium: English Literature up to the 17th Century

Literary Nonfiction – What is Literary Nonfiction?

LibriVox – LibriVox provides free audiobooks from the public domain. LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Choose by category: Fiction, Poetry, Non-fiction, Dramatic Works. Or choose from nearly 50 different genres (including ancient texts, classics, children, myths/legends, plays, poetry, science fiction, short stories, teen/young adult, westerns, etc.). There are several options for listening.

Myths and Legends – The British Isles are rich in myths, folktales and legends. Almost every city, town and village in Britain has its own special story, be it a Celtic legend, Dark Age mystery, strange happening or fable. Read, listen to, and learn about myths, legends, and folktales at this site – then create your own!

Native American Traditional Storytelling – This site provides links to hypertext excepts from Native American myths, legends, and folktales.

Writings by Fitzgerald – This site provides links to fiction stories written by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Critical Analysis of Poetry – This site provides a guide for analyzing poetry. It includes information of how to analyze the following elements: genre, speaker, subject, structure, setting, use of imagery, key statements, sound of words, use of language, reference to other works, how the reader relates, historical placement, ideology or “world-view.”

If you cannot find a book or a magazine about your topic in the local library, consider searching the Library of Congress.

You may be able to order the book through interlibrary loan. Your local librarian can advise you as to the procedure. Click Here to access the Library of Congress Catalog.

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