| | | |

Classic Literature for High Schoolers

This post may contain affiliate links.

I am a little bit obsessed with great literature. I have been working on trying to read through most of the greats of literature and want my kids to do the same. Today I want to talk to you about Classic Literature for High Schoolers. I’ll share with you why I see value in reading the classics, not only for high schoolers, but for all ages! We are using the literature-rich Sonlight curriculum for my son this year and it has been helpful in making choices and in studying these great works.  The Sonlight homeschool curriculum is packed full of amazing literature books for students to read. My son (and I) have learned about some great new favorites this school year. We received a free package of Sonlight curriculum this year in exchange for sharing our experience. All thoughts are my own, though!

Classic Literature for High Schoolers

What Makes a Book a Classic?

A classic book is a book that has great merit to it. It is well loved by society and has been well loved for decades, or even centuries. A classic book influences society and is one you would want to pass on to your children to read as well. I think a classic book betters the reader in some way. With that understanding, there are so many reasons why we should read these books.

Why Is It Important to Read Classic Literature?

There are so many reasons I feel it is important to read classic literature. Here are a few:

  • Learning Valuable Lessons- classic literature is packed full of amazing moral lessons that kids may not find elsewhere When you read these great books you are immersed in these people’s lives. You grow as they grow and learn as they learn. You cheer for the good people in the books and want the right things to happen.
  • Learning History and Culture- What a great thing to be able to learn about the history of a time period through the minds of the people who lived during that time period. It makes it so much more real.
  • Learning New Vocabulary- Classic books tend to have vocabulary that is a bit more difficult than books written in more modern times. Because of that, when reading them, kids are exposed to a wider range of words. This is a good thing!  It expands their vocabulary and helps them understand even more!
  • Practice Deeper Thinking Skills- When you read something you ponder it and it often stays with you long after you finish the book. Classic books usually have themes and messages in them that require one to think more deeply. You wonder about how it fits with your belief system or how it fits with the world you live in now. There is so much to be learned from these great books.

homeschool high school literature

How To Help Your High Schooler Learn to Love the Classics

If you want your child to read the classics and be comfortable reading them, start young if possible!  Sonlight curriculum is a fabulous resource to help you do that. Even before I was using their curriculum, I used many of their book lists to help me choose what I would read to my children. If you start reading these great books to your kids at a young age, they will be much more comfortable with the older language and will be able to read more advanced ones as a high schooler.

Did you miss that boat?  That’s ok, start where you are. They can still gain love for classics even if they missed reading them as a younger child. We are listening to Little House in the Big Woods right now as a family. This book is meant for young kids, but is loved by all ages. Books like this can help people of all ages gain an appreciation for history and a different time period. Let your older kids read the classics they missed when they were younger to work up to the harder books.

Find an awesome literature guide to help them understand the books they are reading. Sonlight is perfect for this. They guide students through the books with discussion questions, critical thinking, and writing activities. It really helps kids better understand what they are reading and make the books come alive in a new way.

sonlight curriculum for high school outline

For instance: My son just finished reading Picture of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff.  He loved it and from the first day of reading it told me I just have to read it, too!  In the literature guide, it helps him better understand the book by giving him the setting, the author’s point of view defines some more difficult vocabulary, and describes the conflict. Each day it gives him an assigned number of pages to read and has topics for discussion, vocabulary and creative writing prompts to help them express the ideas they are learning. It really is an awesome way to work through a classic book.

Classic Literature for High Schoolers:

Here are some of our favorites from this year’s book list. My son is currently working through the 9th grade Sonlight curriculum.

  • Oliver Twist
  • Jane Eyre
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
  • Pictures of Hollis Woods
  • Pilgrim’s Progress
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • The Screwtape Letters
  • Till We Have Faces
  • Treasure Island
  • Twelth Night
  • Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Outlaws of Sherwood
  • Pontius Pilate

What are your favorite classic books for high schoolers?  What tips have you learned to get your high schooler to love reading classic literature?

See my previous posts about our experience with Sonlight:
Why I Chose Sonlight to Homeschool High School
Help Your High School Homeschooler Develop Independence

Similar Posts


  1. I love the classics. My special needs son is reading the best quality illustrated ones I can find this year. We always have one going as a family read as well. Great list. We have read most of them, but I will have to look into Pictures of Hollis Woods. I have never heard of that one.
    Blessings, Dawn

Leave a Reply