Missy Andrews

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!

Teacher Guide: At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

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

A classic of juvenile literature from the author that inspired CS Lewis, At the Back of the North Wind is a fairy tale of the best kind.  Here myth and mystery conspire to deepen our understanding of reality, to animate it again with imagination. Though it remains as approachable and engaging as the purest fairy tale, this story is rich with insight into the most enduring human questions.  MacDonald leads the reader effortlessly into contemplation of the nature of God, the problem of evil, and the reality of the spiritual world.  MacDonald’s generous use of a host of literary devices will bountifully reward the Lit teacher looking for object lessons and examples. We have read this story with students as young as ten years old, though its most stirring themes (Childlike Faith, The Goodness of Providence) are probably best handled by students in junior high or above.  Perfectly appropriate for high school or adult reading groups as well.

Teacher Guide: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

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

The original pirate story, and still the best!  Stevenson's classic tale of swashbuckling adventure set the standard for everything that followed, and your students will never regret joining Jim Hawkins and his mates in the search for Skeleton Island. Stevenson's clear themes of loyalty, deception and growing up make for a discussion that's accessible for younger students and teachers alike.

Teacher Guide: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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

J.R.R.Tolkien’s engrossing tale of Bilbo Baggins and his quest through Middle Earth is a rare literary phenomenon:  a book that has achieved true classic status less than a century after its publication.  But classic it is, by any definition of the term.  Bilbo’s journey from the safety of the Shire to unknown terrors under the Lonely Mountain captivates young readers whileexploring dozens of universal themes.   Fear and courage, greed and selflessness, pride and humility – all these ideas and more find eloquent treatment in Tolkien’s lyrical prose.  In the grand tradition of the Iliad, Hamlet, Great Expectations and Huckleberry Finn, The Hobbit presents a hero with whom all readers can identify. 

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: The Book of Three by Lloyd Alexander

An all-time classic fantasy tale for young readers, Lloyd Alexander's The Book of Three won a Newbery Honor medal in 1964. It is the first in a five-book series that concludes with The High King. The Book of Three tells the story of Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper at Caer Dallben in the mythical land of Prydain, who longs for adventure and heroic glory. He has been born at the right time, for Prydain is beset by the evil lord Arawn and his champion, the wicked Horned King. Leaving home in pursuit of his runaway pic, Taran falls in with a colorful band of companions and eventually has the chance to be the hero he has always dreamed of. Will he take it?  What does it mean to be a hero, anyway? We highly recommend this story for boys who may be reluctant readers. Fast-paced and funny, it is filled with swords, knights, and evil sorcerers, along with a host of admirable themes. The Book of Three is just the right story to ignite a love of reading in even the most reluctant young Pig Keeper. 

Teacher Guide: The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden

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

This classic tale of friendship and loyalty was a Newbery Honor book in 1970, and has been delighting children ever since.  Follow the adventures of Chester Cricket as he finds a home away from home in the Times Square subway station, and grows to learn the true meaning of friendship, and of freedom. Appropriate for fourth and fifth graders, as well as older students who need practice with the basics of plot, conflict and theme.

Teacher Guide: Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry

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

Marguerite Henry's beloved classic was a Newbery Honor book in 1948. Full of warmth and humor, Misty of Chincoteague tells the story of Paul and Maureen Beebe and their quest to capture and own a wild pony - the mysterious Phantom. In order to achieve their goal, Paul and Maureen must learn to persevere against a variety of circumstantial and emotional obstacles -- and they learn important truths about love, ownership, freedom and responsibility along the way.