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Words Aptly Spoken®: American Literature, 2nd ed


Enjoy this study guide to American literature


Audience Grades 9–12; used in Classical Conversations communities in Challenge I.

We have designed this guide to accompany the Challenge I curriculum, developing early high school students’ love for literature and aiding in their transition from the dialectic to the rhetoric stage. However, its focus on the trivium allows for use with the entire family. The discussion questions begin with grammar-level comprehension and then progress into the dialectic. Read sections of the great works aloud to all of your children and include them in discussion!

This reference helps teachers and students to think deeply and discuss confidently, taking much of the work out of the teacher’s hands. Teachers need only read the literature being discussed, monitor the discussion, and evaluate any written work the students produce. Learn more from our video below:

Preparation Students and teachers alike must read the selection before beginning the guided discussions.
Ease of use Large margins for note-taking aid in individual reflection and study, while large font and scattered illustrations aid comprehension.
Page Count 221
Format Paperback
Publication Date Second edition, 2011

General Description

Guiding students through such great American authors as Mark Twain, Harper Lee, and Henry David Thoreau, Words Aptly Spoken®: American Literature teaches students to critically analyze the content and context of classic works, thereby developing an understanding of the authors’ impact on American thought and culture. Each excerpt or short work is accompanied by review and thought questions as well as suggestions for a deeper study of vocabulary, characters, plot, timeline, themes, and quotes to help students become immersed and complete composition assignments. This guide discusses 29 works presented in the same order as they appear in the Challenge I program, 7 in their entirety and 22 in part. All full literary works studied in this book are available for purchase through the Classical Conversations bookstore.

Works studied

"The Gift of the Magi," O. Henry
The Ransom of Red Chief," O. Henry
"If, for Girls," McElvoy
"A Model of Christian Charity," Winthrop
Essays to Do Good Mather
"The Method of Grace," Whitefield
"Paul Revere's Ride," Longfellow
"The Song of Hiawatha," Longfellow
The Sign of the Beaver, Speare
The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Speare
Johnny Tremain, Forbes
The Call of the Wild, London
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Twain
An Old-Fashioned Girl, Alcott
Billy Budd, Melville
The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne
The Red Badge of Courage, Crane
"The Pit and the Pendulum," Poe
Through Gates of Splendor, Elliot
Born Again, Colson
Starship Troopers, Heinlein
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Douglass
Up from Slavery, Washington
The Glass Menagerie, Williams
To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee
Walden, Thoreau
"On Self Reliance," Emerson
The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway