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Free American Literature Resources (Grade Level)

Updated: Jun 4, 2023

The resources in this post are from the one or two years in which I taught American Lit. The handouts were for my grade-level & Integrated 11th graders. When I first started teaching the class, it made sense to teach the class by time period, so that is how the materials below are organized. I drifted away from this in later years and I can post those materials when I come across them. For this particular year/blog post, I chose one representative piece for each time period so that we could move through the year at a good clip. I hope some of these materials are helpful to you.

Beginning of the Year/Introducing the Class

Native Americans (The Sky Tree)

Puritans (Anne Bradstreet)

Rationalism (Ben Franklin)

Romanticism (Emerson)

To introduce Romanticism, I showed kids a clip of Legends of the Falls and went through the below handout.

Below are my handouts and activities for the rest of the unit.

Saltwater Buddha & Romanticism

As part of the Romanticism unit, I thought it would be fun to have kids read the book Saltwater Buddha instead of a more traditional piece. Saltwater Buddha is a memoir about a teen who ran away from home and embarked on a quest to learn how to surf. I thought the kids would connect with it...but it was just OK. It didn't excite the kids as much as I thought it would, but I think it could be a good text with some tweaking of my lessons, or for kids who actually live near the ocean and understand surfing.


Books That Connect to Realism Characteristics

(not necessarily American or from the Realism period)

​A girl learns that her mother has cancer.

​The story of two girls in early America: one a black slave and one a white indentured servant.

The true story of a young man who burned his cash and walked into the Alaskan wild.

​A young girl in the Dominican Republic fights for her personal freedom.

A memoir about a boy who was trained to be a child soldier in Africa.

The author's story about his early life in America as an immigrant in California.

​A young man joins the war and be a hero but quickly learns the realities of what he has signed up for.

Modernism/Harlem Renaissance

Their Eyes Were Watching God


*Did not make it this far this particular year.* I'll update this section if I find some materials in my later units.

Exams That I Used Throughout The Year

I hope that these materials are helpful in getting you through a school year. Let me if one of the links does not work. If you have any American Lit materials that you'd like to share with others, please leave them in the comments.

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