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School

Top 5 High School Literature Books to Read

High school students in America face similar English curricula, where they read the same books written by the same authors. At Acclaim, we selected five of the greatest books included in high school classrooms. Though all of these books are well known and loved, we decided not to include any of the canonical novels for originality’s sake. All of these books are renowned for their literary merits and are excellent for furthering your analytical abilities.

  1. Persuasion, Jane Austen. 

Similar to Austen’s acclaimed Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion is a classic Austenian romance with the archetypal characters. It is an excellent novel that highlights themes and symbols regarding social hierarchies and decisions. 

  1. To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s famous To Kill A Mockingbird is a sweet novel that also seamlessly portrays darker themes such as racism. The narrative form of the writing is critically acclaimed and certainly an aspect for students to analyze. Every character has their idiosyncrasies that one can critically think about.

  1. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert

As Flaubert’s infamous novel, Madame Bovary is a masterfully written French romance. Madame Bovary, the titular character, is a woman who lives in the moment and romanticizes all facets of life. Her constant romanticization and superficiality lead her to empty disappointment and tragedy. Her eyes, along with Flaubert’s specific usage of color, are interesting aspects to observe.

  1. Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare

What’s a high school English class without Shakespeare? Instead of the stereotypical recommendations of Macbeth and Hamlet, we at Acclaim ranked Taming of the Shrew quite highly. This is a play about two wealthy individuals romancing each other with themes about hierarchies and gender roles. There are countless academic debates and theories regarding the feminism (or lack thereof) within the play, so read it and form an opinion yourself!

  1. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde

Wilde’s wildly controversial novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray artfully defines hedonism through a myriad of symbols. This novel is paradigmatic for students learning about identifying symbolism. It’s a hauntingly enticing book that will have you continuously turning pages!

All of these books are phenomenal and recognized by experts in academia. Acclaim also provides English tutoring resources, along with book club sessions, to help with comprehension and analytical skills. Furthermore, these books will also help you write better essays and raise your English grade. Happy reading!


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School

How to Improve Essay Writing

Regardless of grade level, students are always asked to write a few essays during the school year. Though people may say that English and writing are subjective, there is still quite a bit of structure involved in essay writing. Once you master this formulaic structure, you will see that your grades have greatly improved. Embed these tips in your next essay and you’ll see for yourself!

  1. Organize your body paragraphs.

Your teachers will determine your essay grade almost entirely on how you execute your body paragraphs. Write your topic sentence, body sentences, and conclusion sentence in that order. Ensure that your body sentences are relevant to your topic sentence.

Once you have written all of your body paragraphs, structure them by importance rather than chronological order (e.g., having your first paragraph talk about the beginning of the book, etc.). The first body paragraph should be extremely convincing, the second can afford to be of less relevance, and the last body paragraph must be the most engaging of all. Following this stringent structure will benefit you, as this is an efficient way of trimly organizing your essay.

  1. In your analyses, use specific words from your cited quotations to help you prove your thesis.

The key to demonstrating critical thinking in essays is through analyzing the author’s diction through quotations. Read the quotes that you plan to embed in your essay, and pick a few words that you think the author intentionally used to highlight a character or situation. By trying to see the book through the author’s lens, you will grasp a more solid understanding of the author’s point, along with key themes and motifs. Then, reiterate how these specific words pertain to your thesis statement.

  1. Write fluid sentences in your conclusion paragraph.

Many students have issues with writing their conclusion paragraphs. Some err by writing a simple sentence for their paragraph, while others list out their points in a didactic way. The key to a conclusion paragraph is to paraphrase your main points (your topic sentences for each body paragraph) and reiterate your thesis statement. Don’t add any new facts to your conclusion; this paragraph is dedicated to wrapping up the essay. Try to write your summarization in seamless sentences that will give your reader a sense of closure.

  1. Have a succinct, workable thesis.

Your thesis, depending on the paper, can only be about 1-3 sentences long. It is crucial that your thesis is a concise statement of your opinion of a novel. Additionally, it needs to be provable through quotations and concrete evidence. You must be able to expound on your thesis for a large portion of your essay. Try to formulate a specific thesis based on a broad observation.

Essay writing is vital for a student to develop and hone their communication skills. Though it may be complex, our phenomenal English tutors at Acclaim are extremely willing to help. Moreover, see a list of fine literature recommended for students to write their essays on!


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Subjects

Why Liberal Arts are Important for Your Child

With the advent of STEM and developments in technologies, liberal arts have been pushed to the backburner. However, a liberal arts education is just as important as a STEM one. Rather than dismissing one for the other, here are a few reasons why liberal arts are extremely valuable for your child:

  1. As your child immerses themselves more and more into their liberal arts classes, their critical thinking abilities will increase. This is vital for analyzing novels and fine literature, yet this capability can extend to their future work life. Your child will be in tune with their creative side, which will help them easily come up with innovative solutions to solve prevalent issues in their lifetime. 
  2. Your child will become more worldly and develop a panoramic viewpoint of life. The more literature your child reads throughout their life, they will understand not only the historical contexts of a book but also the psyches of great authors like Shakespeare. Also, they will learn to enjoy reading, which is an admirable, productive hobby that will allow them to critically think about world affairs.
  1. Having a good grasp of both liberal arts and STEM, your child will become a well-rounded individual. In countless books, STEM concepts are incorporated in popular genres such as science fiction or dystopian literature. With both fields of studies in mind, your child will be able to discern complex scientific concepts introduced in books, as well as analyze how those very concepts affect the story world. 
  2. Liberal arts caters to one’s emotions; with this, your child’s empathy for others will increase. They will invoke deep emotions for characters they intimately identify with. Your child will gain knowledge and education from books, but more importantly, learn how to be a better person.
  1. When your child has a solid mastery of liberal arts, they will surely become a better writer and communicator. This skill will follow them to high school and beyond, as they will be able to write a unique college admissions essay. This is an extremely useful skill to have, as it can impact their acceptance to prestigious universities. Your child will also be able to clearly communicate verbally and through writing, which is a refreshing quality.

A liberal arts education is just as valuable for your child’s future as a STEM one. Your child will learn to diversify their thinking and verbally elucidate their meaning in an effective manner. They will learn about various cultures and places through reading literature, and they can explore their interests further by learning more languages [link blog here]. Additionally, Acclaim also provides English tutoring for students to better their analytical abilities, so sign up for our tutoring courses to enrich your student’s academic life!