American Literature

Teacher Guide: Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

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 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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

This renowned tale of Hester Prynne, forced to wear the scarlet "A" for her sin of adultery, often gets a bad rap. Its Puritanical setting leaves many readers believing Hawthorne is either encouraging radical individualism or strict morality. Our teacher guide will help you explore this controversy, and ask questions of the text concerning guilt and freedom, conscience and redemption. We hope you'll come away liking this great American novel a little better.

Teacher Guide: Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen

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

This delightful tale of hope and healing won the Newbery medal in 1957.  It tells the story of 10 year old Marly, whose family moves to the country in search of a new start.  Marly's father, an ex-POW, has suffered deep emotional wounds at the hands of a heartless society and she hopes the new surroundings will provide a balm for his soul.  What she finds in the societyof Maple Hill is an answer to her prayers in more ways than one. This story provides a great opportunity to address themes like loss and redemption, mortality and resurrection and the healing power of relationships. 

Teacher Guide: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

When Winnie Foster tires of her life in the Touch-me-not Cottage, she runs away into Tree Gap Wood. There she discovers two mysteries: a secret spring that gives eternal life to all who drink from it and the Tuck family, who claim to have experienced the magic first hand. In an effort to protect both Winnie and the world from the powerful and dangerous water, the Tucks kidnap Winnie, who must decide what to believe.

Teacher Guide: The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings

In the “scrub” woods of central Florida, just south of Gainesville, Jody Baxter and his parents struggle to survive in a hostile wilderness. Jody’s father, Penny, has carved a little haven out of the marshland. Aptly named “Baxter’s Island,” their little home is perched precariously but offers Jody a sense of security. Yet for all that, Jody struggles with loneliness. Caught between childhood and manhood, Jody struggles to mature.

Teacher Guide: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

All The Big Wood is getting crowded, so Pa, Ma, Mary, Laura, and baby Carrie move west into Indian Territory in search of open spaces. There they make a new home for themselves and face the hardships of life on the American plain, learning to rely on each other for support.