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My daughter is technically an 8th grader this year, but I am making the executive decision to move her up to 9th grade for reading. She devours books and comprehends advanced literature with no problem, so I think she is ready. One of the perks of homeschooling is moving at the pace of the student. She is already working at a high school level so she might as well get credit for it. I designed this 9th grade reading list specifically for her.
I like to create my own reading lists for my students. This lets me tailor the book list especially for them. Sure, I always include some classics and traditional choices, but I like being able to add in some books chosen because I think my child will enjoy them. I want my children to be well read, but I also want them to enjoy reading.
For my daughter’s 9th grade reading list I decided to focus on historical fiction. Our history curriculum choices are unorthodox this year and I wanted to sneak in a little ‘real’ history with these book choices.
The plan is to spend 4-6 weeks on each book and work our way through the list in chronological order. Studying the book for at least a month will allow my daughter time to reflect on the reading, study the time period, and write on each topic. She will likely also join a homeschool book club, which will double her assigned reading.
9th Grade Reading List
The Scarlet Letter is one of those classic tales that seems to end up on every high school reading list. I remember reading it when I was in high school. The Scarlet Letter tells the tale of a woman, Hester, who lives in a Puritan society in Massachusetts in the 1600’s. She must wear a scarlet letter because she committed adultery. The guilt, as well as members of the community, torment her through the course of her life. We will discuss themes such as guilt, revenge, justice, and hypocrisy.
Alex and Eliza tells the story of Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyle and takes place during America’s infancy. This love story is based on facts, but there is definitely some fiction involved too. This will provide an opportunity for Hannah to research the events to separate fact from fiction.
Pride and Prejudice takes place in England in the early 1800’s. An eligible bachelor, Mr. Darcy, has just moved into town. Mr. Bennett is determined that Mr. Darcy will marry one of the five Bennett daughters. This tale is ultimately a love story that follows a rocky courtship. We will explore themes such as love and wealth, but I am also interested in hearing what Hannah thinks of the way the couples treat each other.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain – 1830’s
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn tells the tale of two young men sailing down the Mississippi River together. Both are looking for a sort of freedom. One boy wants to ‘feel’ free and the other wants literal freedom from slavery.
Reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is quite controversial. This book is on many banned book lists due to racist language and a plot involving slavery. After all, it was written before the Civil War. That doesn’t excuse racist language or behavior though. My goal with reading this book with my daughter is to confront the issue of racism head on, not skirt around it due to political correctness. I want to have discussions about why people felt the way they did and how the book might differ if it was written today. We will also discuss what it means to do the right thing, even when the right thing is illegal.
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck – 1880’s – 1930’s
The Good Earth is set in China in the late 1800’s – early 1900’s. The story follows a farmer and his family as they go through periods of poverty, wealthy, poverty, and wealth again. We will discuss the importance of family and why sometimes being rich comes at a price. This book found it’s way on our 9th grade reading list due to a suggestion from my husband. He enjoys reading too and is always happy to discuss books with our children.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 1920’s
The Great Gatsby is a story of opulence and decadence during the roaring 20’s. Many of the characters live a wild party life until they are smacked in the face with the consequences of their decisions. We will discuss themes of love and if there is a correlation between wealth and happiness, while also exploring the historical implications prohibition had on society.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck – 1930’s
Of Mice and Men follows two migrant worker friends. One of the men has mental handicaps so his friend protects him and helps him get out of sticky situations. Eventually a situation arises that is unable to be escaped. We will discuss what it means to be a friend.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway – 1936-1939
For Whom the Bell Tolls takes place during the Spanish Civil War. The story revolves around an American explosive expert who is volunteering his expertise. He is tasked with blowing up a bridge, but other members on his side of the war disagree. This tale includes war, love, and death . . . all heavy, but real, topics.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett – 1960’s
The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s. We follow the stories of multiple maids and the strained relationship with their female employers. We spent a few weeks learning about the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s when we worked through the Silverdale Martin Luther King, Jr. unit study, but this will provide more insight into the experiences of the time period.
Want to know something that seems a little crazy? 6/8 of these books have made it onto banned book lists. Maybe it is just a rebellious streak in me, but I love that my daughter is going to read them. I suspect that fact will lead to yet another interesting discussion, this time on the impact of censorship.
What books do you think belong on a 9th grade reading list?
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