Remember More Than Just Rabbits: Understanding “Of Mice and Men”

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When people talk about influential pieces of American literature, there are a few titles you can just about guarantee will be thrown into the discussion, i.e. To Kill a Mockingbird, Grapes of Wrath, Huckleberry Finnand oh yeah, Of Mice and Men (kudos to Steinbeck for making my off-the-cuff list twice). Chances are that even if you haven’t read any of these titles (though that is unlikely, knowing how popularly they are assigned as staples of high school reading lists), you have at the very least heard of them. Continue Reading ›

Macbeth Unlocked

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William Shakespeare remains, hands down, one of the most well-known and influential writers in recent history. Throughout his career, he published a truly impressive library of sonnets, poems, verses, plays, and tales. Among these works, Shakespeare is credited with the writing of four major tragedies: Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, and, of course, Macbeth.  Continue Reading ›

How To Live a Life That Matters: Maya Angelou on Love and Attitude

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Maya Angelou was born on April 4, 1928 and is true to the title of her own poem, a “Phenomenal Woman.” Few people can say they have been a novelist, actress, singer, director, scholar, researcher, poet, and brothel madam, yet Angelou has filled all of these roles and many more, including being an integral part of the civil rights movement.

Decades after her time on Earth, many of us still hold I Know Why the Caged Bird SingsAnd Still I Rise“Amazing Peace,” and her other works close to our hearts. As a survivor of poverty, familial discord, and a harrowing childhood, Angelou was able to turn her remarkable, tumultuous life into creative inspiration that is still inspiring us today. Continue Reading ›

A Fun Introduction to History: Books That Give an Insight to Days Gone By

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Books are passports to other worlds, no matter how cheesy that sounds. With that in mind, there’s something particularly fascinating about works of fiction that take encompass times and events that really occurred. That isn’t to say that novels taking place outside the realm of real life aren’t wonderful—they are, but to be able to pick up a book and see what it was truly like to live as an average person during, say, the reign of King Henry VIII and the break with the Catholic Church? Well, that is something the average person would never be able to do without the help of author-historians. Continue Reading ›

Wonderful Wanderlust: Books that Make You Want to go Places

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Travel is one of the most wonderful experiences granted to us – what other creature can say (relatively on a whim) that they want a change of scenery and to experience something new? With the potential exception of migratory birds, not many. So what influences us to want to see the sights? Often, it’s hearing about grand adventures or seeing pictures of some far-off land. But there is another medium that gives us an itch to get going: literature, books, stories, etc. Reading the story of a life somewhere far, far away makes us yearn to see the places the author describes.

That being said, it is important to note that not everything happening in all countries is peachy. Many books (set in the U.S. and around the world) focus on the strife and turmoil happening within those borders, and it’s relatively impossible and perhaps irresponsible to make a booklist that ignores drama and conflict. So please, enjoy the following list, make some travel plans, learn some stuff, and stay safe out there! Continue Reading ›

Owl Eyes Annotated Texts: A Great Resource to Add to Your Teacher Toolbox  

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The beginning of a new season is always a good time to consider new ways to engage students in the classroom. One way to do it—only a few keyboard clicks away—is to incorporate Owl Eyes annotated texts into lesson plans and instruction.

In case you’re unfamiliar with using the annotated texts at Owl Eyes, here are a few things to know to get started. First of all, they’re free, and they’re comprehensive! At Owl Eyes you will find hundreds of poems, short stories, novels, and essays to which instructional annotations have been added throughout the texts—and hundreds of additional annotated works are on the way. Continue Reading ›

Literary Nostalgia: A Few Favorite Reads from Over the Decades

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One of the best things about books is that they can be about anything. Anything. There are post-apocalyptic stories dating all the way back to ancient times, and a lot of those wild and crazy stories about medieval kings and primordial gods are still being read today (thank you, oral tradition). As it happens, some of the best books are also some of the oldest books, and epic poems like The Iliad and The Odyssey never go out of style. Continue Reading ›