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Help Choosing 12th Grade Literature

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    Help Choosing 12th Grade Literature

    I am admittedly not a well-read person and need help with choosing my son's 12th grade literature selections. Would anyone be willing to give their input?

    This is what he's studied/read so far:

    9th grade: He had American Lit (mostly BJU) at a private school
    10th Grade: Back home and Iliad/Odyssey/Aeneid with me
    11th Grade: Dante via MPOA

    And for 12th grade, he will be reading and studying with me here at home (no MPOA class).
    Here are my thoughts, and we will use the MP pacing.

    Tale of Two Cities - 8 weeks
    Jane Eyre - 9 weeks
    Robinson Crusoe - 10 weeks
    King Lear - 5 weeks

    And he will read portions of The British Tradition II: Poetry and Prose along with myself and my 10th grader.

    My questions:
    1) Will Robinson Crusoe be too easy for him?
    2) The only Shakespeare he has read is Romeo and Juliet. Is there a "better" choice in regard to must-read Shakespeare?
    3) I haven't read any of these books, so I don't know if there is a better mix of MP choices. I welcome any and all suggestions!

    He's also reading City of God with me here at home and I think we are going to add the Great Course lectures. This won't count towards a literature credit.

    Thank you for any advice you can offer!
    Mama to 5 Sweet Ones

    11th grade DS: Mix of MP materials, MPOA, and BJU
    9th grade DD: Mostly 9M, MPOA, and French
    7th grade DD: 7M
    5th Grade DD: 5M
    4.5 yo DS: Outside as much as possible beating on things with sticks; MP Jr. K and Mom made fun things

    I did Anna Karenina with my 12th grader and we loved it. Hated Anna but loved the book 😉. It was great Intro to the greats of Russian literature. I would suggest that in place of Robinson Crusoe for a senior. That way you have three great British authors and one Russian one. It’s hard and long though, but the story is well worth it for analyzing characters and what makes a good marriage.
    Debbie- mom of 7, civil engineering grad, married to mechanical engineer
    DD, 27, BFA '17 graphic design and illustration
    DS, 25, BS '18 mechanical engineering
    DS, 23, BS '20 Chemsitry, pursuing phd at Wash U
    (DDIL married #3 in 2020, MPOA grad, BA '20 philosophy, pusrsing phd at SLU)
    DS, 21, Physics and math major
    DD, 18, dyslexic, 12th grade dual enrolled
    DS, 14, future engineer/scientist/ world conquerer 9th MPOA diploma student
    DD, 8 , 2nd Future astronaut, robot building space artist


      It's always interesting to discuss when someone asks what books to choose! I love hearing what everyone prefers and why.

      We have been very happy with the following choices for senior literature: Anna Karenina (12+ weeks), Hamlet (5+ weeks), and Jayber Crow (no guide, just read and discussed together), along with an end of year reflective paper on "What is the good life?" They also write shorter papers on Anna and Hamlet, but tie it all together during Jayber. We've done this with 7 seniors so far and they've all had great experiences with the texts and I feel like it was a great way to launch from high school. Deep questions.

      Lear, Hamlet, or Macbeth are all outstanding high school Shakespeare choices. They are all 5 weeks on the plans, so your choice doesn't really affect the timing. Are any of them going to be available locally to you through a college, university, or Shakespeare group? If yes, consider choosing the one you can see live this school year.

      I would not put Jane Erye or Crusoe on the level as some of the other options (quickly ducks to avoid tomatoes!). Read them for leisure, yes, but I would not do either of those instead of some of the other staple texts unless you are passionate about one or both of them already. Everyone knows a book is best taught by someone who loves the book. Since you've not already read either, I would bump those.

      If you don't want to attempt Jayber without a guide, my choices for you would be the following, in any order. Dickens, Shakespeare, and Tolstoy make for a very rich year!

      1) Two Cities (8+) weeks
      2) Hamlet, Lear, or Macbeth (5+ weeks)
      3) Anna K (12+ weeks)

      That brings you to 25 weeks minimum, and gives you margin to slow the pace for all of them by a week or two if needed for whatever reason (illness, time to write and correct a paper, simple enjoyment, etc.). It also gives you some spare weeks to look at Poetry II between each one. For senior year, I like to do less and have more time to think.

      Let us know what you settle on!
      Festina lentē,
      Jessica P

      '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
      DS Hillsdale College freshman
      DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
      DD 8th • HLN & Home
      DS 5th • HLN & Home
      Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

      Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
      Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016


        I was coming on here to mention Anna Karenina as well. I recently reread it and remembered just how moving it is. I remember at one Sodalitas I was at (several years ago now) there were 2 or 3 of the panel members who mentioned it as one of the most influential books they had read, I had never read it so I bought it on Audible and listened my entire drive home (and then some, it's a long book!). I would swap Robinson Crusoe for AK, but you may need a little extra time, even over and above those 10 weeks, I don't know how long MP schedules it for. AK is one book I am hoping all of my children will read before leaving home.

        Really, you could do any Shakespeare, you could (depending on how much of the British lit you were planning on) do 2 credits, one with the regular literature you have planned, and another British Lit category with the short stories and Shakespeare. Hamlet and Macbeth are both popular plays around here. If he's done Romeo and Juliet though perhaps it would be good to contrast it with one of the comedies?

        DD 13 (MP 8 - 4FL and Ref/Con through MPOA)
        DS 11 (MP 6 w/MPOA)
        DS 5 - MP K (My first Kindergartner with MP!!!)
        DD 2 - Board Books and Chaos


          I would put in another vote for skipping Robinson Crusoe. I taught it one year to high schoolers, back when it was included in an MP package. 9th grade maybe? I know the adventure parts are very famous and it's a classic, but man, it sure has long stretches of boringness! It's the first modern English novel, and Mr. Defoe didn't yet realize we need to be entertained in a more sustained manner lol.

          As an alternate choice, I agree with those above that Anna Karenina is a jewel. However, it's really long and will take more time. Also, I never read it as a kid/teen, and I'm not sure I would have gotten as much out of its heavy themes at that age as I did in my 30s. So I would also consider something that's really more of an adventure, like Hound of the Baskervilles. I know my son is going to eat that up next year.

          I would also suggest reading a Shakespeare comedy (love As You Like It), since he's already read a tragedy. But in my opinion anything by the Bard is time well spent. Finding a live performance would certainly be the best way to cap off your reading.

          I will vote an enthusiastic yes for Jane Eyre, a lifelong favorite of mine, with some very strong messages about choosing what's right over what our passions want. Also a compelling portrait of a strong, principled woman refusing to be pushed into bad choices by (mostly good) men who love her.

          I add an enthusiastic yes to Tale of Two Cities. Everything wonderful in there: history of the French Revolution, a haunting love story, human failure and redemption, and Dickens's unparalleled characters and storytelling. Mmm, I want to go reread it myself right now. You are going to have a wonderful time!

          Fall 2022:
          DS 14 9th
          DD 12 7th
          DS 10 5th
          DD 7 2nd
          DS 5 K
          DS 2


            I think I might be the only one here who really didn’t like Anna Karenina in high school. The year I took world literature it was French and Russian literature and then we had to use some of those selections for AP Literature and Composition exam. My dislike of the novel might have been because we were required to read it in about four weeks with a paper due right after Christmas break. I have meant to reread it as an adult, but haven’t done it yet. That class also taught me how much I despised French literature (or at least my teacher’s selections). I like the suggestion for Jane Eyre and Hound of the Baskervilles. It is nice when there are no wrong answers.

            Plans for 2022-2023
            16th year homeschooling, 13th year with Memoria Press
            DD College Sophomore
            DS 11th grade - Lukeion Latin and Greek, Vita Beata, MPOA Divine Comedy
            DS 9th grade - Vita Beata Literature/Classical Studies
            DS 4th grade - 4A with Right Start F, Second Form Latin, AAS 5


              I agree that any Shakespeare play is going to be good - except Midsummer, for the life of me I don't get why we plague students with it. And don't forget to consider Julius Caesar or the Henry plays, which are not quite like the tragedies, and if your son likes history they may be a good choice, too.
              I am totally on Team Austen, definitely not Team Brontë, so my two cents are to consider Pride and Prejudice instead of Jane Eyre. If you really want JE, consider whether you really want to take the full 9 weeks for it, it's an awfully long time for that novel in my opinion.
              Anna Karenina is a wonderful book, so I would definitely consider making room for it in 12th grade. AK would also keep your balance between the Anglosphere and the rest of the literary world. Robinson and Baskerville can be read for pleasure - I would not do Conan Doyle in school, even though I am a Holmes fan.

              And maybe tanya can give us an update on the new guides MP has been working on, like The Great Gatsby - maybe something new is ready to come out.
              DS (16)
              DD (15)
              DS (7)


                As far as the Shakespeare play, personally I would plump for Julius Caesar. It is great literature combined with history. The characters are essential to know as historical figures and as part of a classical education. Just for one tiny example, a student who knows these characters will see Dante's reasoning in placing them where he does in The Divine Comedy. And, naturally, a knowledge of Caesar constitutes part of a complete education in Latin. (Also, I think JC would be generally easier to understand than the other histories like Henry V.)

                Overall though, I think I would choose the Shakespeare play according to whether you think he would enjoy a history, tragedy, or comedy. You want him to love Shakespeare and read it the rest of his life.

                Mrs Bee I'm just curious as to why you do not like Dream? I find it one of the most entertaining.



                  I think for me it's just too much fluff, Bonnie - other comedies, like The Merchant of Venice, for instance, put more meat on the table. There are also so many story lines to follow, and I can't stand the fairy part, I just don't find it that funny.
                  But I'm glad we can agree on Julius Caesar
                  DS (16)
                  DD (15)
                  DS (7)


                    Hi MamaHill

                    I'm going to drop a link to our cottage school selections for high school, so you can have an idea of what Rachel did/is doing. Page 7 is literature. As you can see, we do Dante for senior year.

                    I like what you have planned for his selections. Rachel studied King Lear this year, and Joseph Pearce spoke very highly of it in a talk at the Teacher Training, so I'm glad she was able to explore that one. She also studied Jane Eyre (juxtaposed with Wuthering Heights) and enjoyed that as well. In all, it was a fabulous literature year. (Jane Eyre, Merchant of Venice, Wuthering Heights and King Lear) Maybe pull out Robinson Crusoe and add in WH? Joseph Pearce penned a fantastic article about WH, and given that your son has already studied Dante, it may be a good fit.

                    And --- I'm PROUD OF YOU! You're in the home stretch, and tirelessly researched and poured out into your children. I'm glad to have you as a friend. 😍
                    Plans for 2022-23

                    Year 12 of homeschooling with MP

                    DD1 - 27 - college grad, bakery owner
                    DD2 - 16 - 11th grade - HLS Cottage School - online classes, looking at dual credit - equestrian and theatre
                    DS3 - 14 -7A Cottage School - soccer/tennis -dyslexia and dysgraphia
                    DS4 -14 - 7A Cottage School -soccer/tennis -auditory processing disorder
                    DD5 - 10- 5A, Cottage School - inattentive ADHD - equestrian and tumbling
                    DS6 - 9 - MP 1 - home with momma


                      Here’s what I did with my 12th grader this year:

                      Robinson Crusoe
                      Jane Eyre
                      2 books of his choice without guides, he chose Great Expectations and Ben-Hur

                      I wasn’t going to choose Robinson because it is not the greatest novel ever, but my 8th and 9th grader were reading it and I needed to streamline because I had infant twins. My 8th and 9th grader were pretty bored by it, and my senior *loved* it. He got into all the controversy over how Karl Marx read and utilized Defoe, and ended up writing a great paper on it that he sent in for one of his college applications. And his enthusiasm rubbed off on his brother too, although my daughter still insists it was really boring. :-)

                      I love both Jane Austen and the Brontës, but I would concur that if he hasn’t read Austen yet, Pride & Prejudice should
                      take precedence over Jane Eyre.

                      How about a comedy like As You Like It and then Macbeth, which is the most accessible of the tragedies if you are both encountering them for the first time? I would vote for two Shakespeare plays over either Defoe or Dickens.


                      7th year with MP

                      DS19, college freshman
                      DS16, 10th
                      DS & DD14, 9th
                      DS10, 4th
                      DD7, 2nd
                      DS4, JrK
                      DS & DS, 1


                        I am so tickled to come back to the Forum and find all of these words of wisdom! Thank you all so much.

                        SO. MUCH. TO. CONSIDER. Yikes. I have a bit of decision fatigue, so I am going to come back and re-read these opinions and suggestions with fresh eyes.

                        I am sure I will have more questions.

                        Thank you all again! ❤
                        Mama to 5 Sweet Ones

                        11th grade DS: Mix of MP materials, MPOA, and BJU
                        9th grade DD: Mostly 9M, MPOA, and French
                        7th grade DD: 7M
                        5th Grade DD: 5M
                        4.5 yo DS: Outside as much as possible beating on things with sticks; MP Jr. K and Mom made fun things


                          I love this thread!