Instead of aimless wandering this summer, get somewhere by picking a book from NEH's Summertime Favorites, which has been guiding teachers, parents, and students in their summer reading since 1988 with three hundred literary classics listed in appropriate grade categories. One of these titles, To Kill a Mockingbird, is celebrating its fiftieth birthday this summer.
To honor the anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee’s masterpiece, EDSITEment has updated our two lessons Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird: Profiles in Courage and To Kill A Mockingbird and the Scottsboro Boys Trial: Profiles in Courage. We have also reviewed resources that will enhance your students understanding of what author Mary McDonagh Murphy, in her book “Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of 50 Years of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’," considers “our national novel.” Banned from the shelves of certain libraries while being voted as the best novel of the 20th century by American librarians, and often cited by readers of all ages as the book that had the most profound influence on them, Mockingbird continues to stir emotions, create controversy, and transform the lives of everyone it touches.
A national program created by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Big Read recommends To Kill a Mockingbird as “the rare American novel that can be discovered with excitement in adolescence and reread into adulthood without fear of disappointment.” The largest reading program in American history, The Big Read project is designed to unite communities through great literature and encourage each American to discover the transformative joys of reading. Turn to their Reader’s Guide and Teacher’s Guide for ideas for additional lesson plans, capstone projects and essay topics. Tune in to their Radio Show to be transported back to Maycomb, Alabama, for insights shared by a roundtable of prominent people associated with the story: among them Robert Duvall, the actor who brought “Boo” to life, and Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor.
Listen to NPR’s Harper Lee emerges for 'Mockingbird' award interview with Alabama high school student winners of the To Kill a Mockingbird essay contest, inaugurated in 2001 by the University of Alabama Honors College to answer the question: What is it in To Kill a Mockingbird that still speaks powerfully to us today? BBC Magazine asks another pertinent question you may want to pose to your own students: Why is To Kill a Mockingbird so popular?
Students may want to join others around the country in hosting a party to celebrate the anniversary. Facebook page To Kill a Mockingbird 50th anniversary lists multiple ways this occasion is being commemorated in different parts of the country. Students will delight in reading typewriter copy "One-Taxi Town," the original 1960 book review from the New York Times comparing their own 21st-century readings of the book. For a lesson exploring the motivation behind characters’ actions, teachers can turn to EDSITEment partner NCTE ReadWriteThink’s Creating Psychological Profiles of Characters in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Another perennial classic that is very much in the media right now is Alice in Wonderland, thanks to Tim Burton’s film. EDSITEment lesson plans and resources on Alice and other titles are wonderful enhancements to your summer reading. Most lesson plans, regardless of grade level, can be adapted as guides for discussion, either with your children or among members of a reading group. Parents can also use lesson plans and EDSITEment-reviewed websites to help their children prepare for the next year's reading assignments.
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“—as long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
—Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Using EDSITEment lessons Aesop and Ananse: Animal Fables and Trickster Tales and Fables and Trickster Tales Around the World, you can teach younger students about the larger context of fables and trickster tales as they read Aesop’s Fables. Read Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland with your child and use EDSITEment lesson plans A Trip to Wonderland: The Nursery 'Alice' and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Nonsense Poetry and Whimsy to encourage them to create their own art and poetry.
Students in 4th through 6th grades can learn important concepts of poetic voice in the poetry of Langston Hughes, an influential 20th-century writer. By using EDSITEment lesson The Poet's Voice: Langston Hughes and You, students not only learn about poetic voice, but begin to develop their own through a series of journal writing exercises. If the summer leads your students or children to dream about fantasy worlds, EDSITEment has a large assortment of lessons dealing with fairy tales and folklore, including Fairy Tales Around the World, Cinderella Folk Tales: Variations in Character, and Helpful Animals and Compassionate Humans in Folklore. A more complete list of 4th through 6th grade summer reading lessons is available below.
Older students interested in fantastic escapes and journeys can learn about Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow or Jack London’s Call of the Wild. High school students can learn more about The Beauty of Anglo-Saxon Poetry before reading the exploits of Beowulf. Subsidize scary campfire stories by reading short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and then learn about his life and narrative voice in the two EDSITEment lessons Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and the Unreliable Biographers and Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and the Unreliable Narrator.
These are only a few of the many EDSITEment lesson plans that complement the NEH Summertime Favorites reading list. Keep reading below for a full list of EDSITEment lessons currently available that intersect with the NEH reading list or scan the entire list of lesson plans that EDSITEment offers.
An * marks a lesson plan for a different grade group that may be suitably adapted
Carroll, Lewis. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
Lear, Edward. A Book of Nonsense.
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Paul Revere’s Ride.
McDermott, Gerald. Anansi the Spider.
Potter, Beatrix. The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
Stevenson, Robert Louis. A Child's Garden of Verses.
Andersen, Hans Christian. Fairy Tales.
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales (Hänsel and Gretel, Rapunzel, etc.).
Hughes, Langston. The Dream Keeper and Other Poems.
Kipling, Rudyard. The Jungle Book.
Perrault, Charles. The Complete Fairy Tales (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc.).
Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
Frank, Anne. Diary of a Young Girl.
Frost, Robert. Poems.
Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
London, Jack. Call of the Wild.
Malory, Sir Thomas. Le Morte d'Arthur.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart.
Cather, Willa. My Ántonia.
Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Canterbury Tales.
Crane, Stephen. The Red Badge of Courage.
Dante. The Divine Comedy.
Dickinson, Emily. Poems.
Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby.
Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter.
Hughes, Langston. Poems.
Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God.
Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible.
Orwell, George. Animal Farm.
Poe, Edgar Allan. Short stories.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet.
Shakespeare, William. Sonnets.
Vincenzo Foppa. 1427/30 - 1515/16 The Young Cicero Reading, c. 1464. Detached fresco fragment from Palazzo Mediceo, Milan, 101.6 x 143. 7 cm. Wallace Collection, London.