The well-known publisher, Penguin Random House, is recognized as the source of many popular novels and non-fiction works. While most are contemporary works, some such as All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and The Chosen by Chaim Potok are older. To capitalize on the drawing power of these books with teens, Random House has created free teacher guides for many of the books that are likely to appeal to them. Teacher’s guides can help you create literature courses using real books for high school level. Because of the subject matter, some books might also be components of courses in other subject areas.
Examples of the books that have companion teacher’s guides are The Martian by Andy Weir, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, The Sword of Shannara Trilogy by Terry Brooks, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, Headstrong by Rachel Swaby, Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario, Sticks and Stones by Emily Bazelon. As you can tell from these few titles, books range from classic literature through areas such as science fiction, edgy modern novels, inspiring biographies, and social issues. Most books and study guides are written from a secular perspective.
Teacher’s guides vary from a few pages to six or more pages, and all are downloadable for free at the publisher’s website. The area of the website can be difficult to find so click here to find books and study guides.
Study guides are all written by different authors so the format varies. Generally they will include some background explaining key themes from the book or a plot summary. There will likely be some information about the author. The bulk of each teacher’s guide consists of questions that can be used for discussion or writing assignments. All of the guides that I looked at have interesting, thought-provoking questions. Some get into serious literary analysis. Usually, there are additional suggested activities, although these vary greatly from guide to guide. Some guides include correlation with Common Core Standards. While teacher’s guides were written primarily for classroom use, most of the material can be used even with a single student.
The reading levels of the books as well as the grade levels targeted by the teacher’s guides vary. For example while The Sword of Shannara Trilogy and its teacher’s guide should be usable for most high school students, The Martian and its guide is probably best for students who have studied or are studying physics. Since you can view and print guides for free, you can fairly easily determine which ones might work well for you.