New High School Thematic Educator Guide: Contemporary and Classic Pairings

By Kaitlyn Spotts | May 14 2024 | Education & Professional LearningEnglish Language ArtsFavorite Authors & SeriesGeneralHigh School

When students read classic and contemporary texts together, they use high-level thinking to determine similarities and differences in style, structure, and essential truths. Paired texts provide relevance and open entry points to new ideas and cultures. This guide pairs the following books:

This Is My America and To Kill a Mockingbird

Lessons in Chemistry and The Scarlet Letter

Before the Ever After and The Great Gatsby

The Vanishing Half and Great Expectations

Solito and The Odyssey

Right by My Side and The Catcher in the Rye

They Called Us Enemy and The Crucible 

The books and activities in this guide, used in part or in their entirety during book circles or whole-class instruction, encourage students to read, write, discuss, and take action on both matters of literary merit and issues of social justice.

Download the free guide for high school

This Is My America
978-0-593-11879-5
"Incredible and searing." --Nic Stone, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dear MartinThe Hate U Give meets Just Mercy in this unflinching yet uplifting first novel that explores the racist injustices in the American justice system.
$13.99 US
May 17, 2022
Paperback
416 Pages
Ember

Lessons in Chemistry
A Novel
978-0-385-54734-5
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 
$29.00 US
Apr 05, 2022
Hardcover
400 Pages
Doubleday

Before the Ever After
978-0-399-54544-3
WINNER OF THE NAACP IMAGE AWARDWINNER OF THE CORETTA SCOTT KING AUTHOR AWARD National Book Award winner Jacqueline Woodson's stirring novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when their glory days have passed, and the cost of professional sports on Black bodies. Now in paperback.
$8.99 US
Sep 06, 2022
Paperback
176 Pages
Nancy Paulsen Books

The Vanishing Half
A GMA Book Club Pick (A Novel)
978-0-525-53696-3
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERA GOOD MORNING AMERICA Book Club Pick! The #1 New York Times bestseller with over 1 million copies sold, "a story of absolute, universal timelessness" (Entertainment Weekly), now in paperback for the first time.
$18.00 US
Feb 01, 2022
Paperback
400 Pages
Riverhead Books

Solito
A Memoir
978-0-593-49808-8
A young poet tells the inspiring story of his migration from El Salvador to the United States at the age of nine in this “gripping memoir” (NPR) of bravery, hope, and finding family. 
$18.00 US
Jun 06, 2023
Paperback
416 Pages
Hogarth

Right by My Side
978-0-14-313755-9
Move over, Holden Caulfield, and meet Marshall Field Finney, in the 30th anniversary edition of Right by My Side, by a celebrated chronicler of Black middle class life in the American Midwest A Penguin Classic
$16.00 US
Jan 31, 2023
Paperback
208 Pages
Penguin Classics

They Called Us Enemy
978-1-60309-450-4
A stunning graphic memoir recounting actor/author/activist George Takei's childhood imprisoned within American concentration camps during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon -- and America itself -- in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.
$19.99 US
Jul 16, 2019
Paperback
208 Pages
Top Shelf Productions