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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!