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Teacher Guide: Little Dorrit

Arthur Clennam returns home to England to investigate the meaning of his recently deceased father’s last words: “Do not forget!” His inquiries lead him to little Amy Dorrit, a seamstress and companion to his harsh, religious mother. Certain that his family’s secrets are in some way connected with Amy, Arthur works to better her family’s straightened circumstances and to make reparation for whatever damage his family might have caused her. He means to live a blameless life. 

Teacher Guide: Pride and Prejudice

When a rich and eligible bachelor, Mr. Bingley, moves into the neighborhood, Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters take an eager interest in his romantic affairs, hoping to be singled out for special attention and saved from a life of spinsterhood. Bingley's best friend, Darcy, twice as wealthy as Bingley himself, takes a reluctant shine to Elizabeth, in spite of his belief that she is beneath him socially. Yet his arrogant slights prejudice Elizabeth against him as their unlikely courtship progresses.

Teacher Guide: Johnny Tremain

Johnny Tremain, a talented young silversmith, must learn humility when an injury to his hand forces him to leave his apprenticeship; in his new job delivering messages for the Boston Revolutionaries, he begins to learn that some things are more important than success. 

Teacher Guide: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

In the sleepy southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, two children live out their joys and trials, too young to be aware of the tensions which undergird their society and threaten their peace. Their father, the local lawyer, proves a bulwark of safety for them in times of conflict. When an innocent black man is wrongly accused of raping a white woman, Atticus Finch acts in accordance with his conscience and resolves to defend the innocent, regardless of the racial tensions which might cow a weaker man. Aware that this ugliness will certainly affect his children, Atticus stands guard over their innocence too, trying to protect their youth and peace.

Teacher Guide: The Aeneid by Virgil

Linking his work with the Homeric epics, Virgil sings a hymn to Aeneas, the legendary founder of Rome. Born of Venus, brave in battle (second only to Hektor), and already a recognized figure in the Trojan Cycle, Aeneas is a fitting hero.  In the face of Juno's wrath and cruel tricks of Fate, Aeneas and his fellow Trojan survivors wander in search of a new home. Aeneas pledges to honor the gods if they will grant him safe passage to Italy and bless his settlement there.

Teacher Guide: Call It Courage by Armstrong Sperry

Living in a community of fierce fishermen on the island of Hikueru, young Mafatu struggles against a crippling fear of the sea. Though his name marks him as “Stout Heart,” his tribe has labeled him “The Boy Who Was Afraid” and shunned him for his cowardice. Determined to earn his father’s approval and to conquer this disability, Mafatu embarks on a dangerous trip into the heart of the sea to prove his courage.

Teacher Guide: Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

[Originally published in Ready Readers: High School Literature, Vol. 1]

Shakespeare’s immortal classic of political and psychological intrigue belongs on every junior high or high school reading list. Astute readers will encounter ambition and sacrifice, tyranny and patriotism, jealousy and love in abundance as Shakespeare plumbs the glories and the depths of human nature. The characters in Julius Caesar are unforgettable, and their challenge to the reader to examine his own heart rings as true as ever. Noble Brutus, crafty Cassius, loyal Antony, ambitious Caesar – every reader is sure to identify with one of them.

Teacher Guide: A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

[Originally published in Ready Readers: High School Literature, Vol. 1]

One of Dickens' most acclaimed works, A Tale of Two Cities is a moving story of love and self-sacrifice set amidst the violent upheaval of the French Revolution and its Reign of Terror.  Utilizing a brilliant cast of characters, from the half-mad Dr. Manette and his angelic daughter Lucie to the cynical Sydney Carton and the cruel Defarges, Dickens explores the extremes of human nature.  Through foreshadowing, irony, metaphor and allusion, he expounds the themes of faith, redemption, loyalty, bitterness and more

Teacher Guide: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

[Originally published in Ready Readers: High School Literature, Vol. 1]

Perhaps the most powerful devotional work by the most beloved Christian writer of the twentieth century, The Great Divorce is C.S Lewis' meditation on the nature of heaven, hell, sin and divine redemption. Join Lewis himself on a fanciful journey from the Grey Town to the Solid Land and listen in on his interviews with various "ghosts" -- fellow souls taking a special trip for an advance look at heaven.  Each interview is an incisive commentary on human nature that is sure to surprise, amuse, convict and inspire you. This 145-page novel is not only appropriate for junior high and high school students but also a must read for grownups - even if your kids are small!

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