Junior English Curriculum is American Literature

I loved teaching the junior English curriculum. Partly, this was because I loved her passionate authors. So many of them seem to possess that attitude that grabs the reader by the collar and shakes them up saying,  "Insist on more! Strive for your dreams!

These American writers wrote boldly about the growing pains of a young nation and her people. I know that America has been criticized in the past of "shooting from the hip," but it's that energy that makes America so unique.

I always felt so alive, so cutting edge whenever I read an American novel.  America’s heart is in its literature, and I was one of the luckiest women on the planet to be able to teach it.  

Be sure to visit the second junior English page for lessons including vocabulary, grammar, and writing assignments that go with American literature. 

Note to Parents: American Literature is Chronological

The junior English curriculum is taught chronologically from the Puritan period (1620) to the post-Modern era (today). However, not all the literature or period is equal. For example, there is hardly any literature during the Colonial period.

The production of literature or lack thereof, reflects the prosperity of its people. So when a colonial family is struggling to survive a winter and put food on the table, there isn't going to be much call for a good poem, short story, or novel.  

Plus, colonials didn't really approve of the idle, frivolous activity of writing for entertainment. Now, a good religious tract outlining the sin of (fill in the blank), that was important and acceptable.

The next  junior English curriculum period reflects Revolutionary literature (1775). Here one will find all the famous government documents like the "Declaration of Independence", the Federalist Papers, and the Constitution. Still, not much literature for entertainment is available.

Next is the Romantic period from 1800 to about 1840 in junior English curriculum. Finally, America is producing short stories, poems, and novels from authors like Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and James Fenimore Cooper.


Do you remember the stories of Ichabod Crane and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “The Raven,” (They’re not called the Baltimore Ravens for nothing.)  and “Listen, my children, and ye shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere”?


Edgar Allan Poe

Father of the modern detective story


Transcendentalism is the next  period of literature and occurs roughly between the years 1840 and 1860. It’s known as the American Renaissance or the golden age of literature, and some of the greatest novels ever written, were produced during this time. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Walden by Henry David Thoreau are just a few of the works.


America's Golden Age of Literature

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I've listed these books because they represent a period in America literature when writers were prolific, stimulating, and reflected the "pulse of the nation."

Our family owns three Kindles, and we love them. However, if you cannot afford a Kindle, you can download one of these free apps.  Of the books listed above, three of them are free and the others cost about a $1 or $1.99 on Kindle. Paper copies cost more. 

Uncle Tom's Cabin sold more than one million copies its first year, 1852. Legend has it that when President Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe, he commented that she was the lady who started the Civil War. 

The Scarlet Letter and excerpts of the other books are still taught in the junior English curriculum more than 160 years later. If your teen only chooses one of these classics to read, this is the best, in my opinion.

Civil War Writings

Civil War literature is mostly considered a subgenre of Realism.

I've included it here because I believe this site contains highly informative literature that provides authentic, firsthand sources that will enrich your teen's knowledge of American history, as well as literature.

Post-Civil War Literary Periods

Realism is the next literary period.  It begins generally about 1860 and covers a 40-year-time frame. The literature reflects the troubles of a nation dealing with slavery, but also adventures and pitfalls of traveling west.

Modernism is from 1900 to 1940. Great authors like Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and John Steinbeck, along with many, many other authors wrote during this time. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald also was written during this junior English curriculum period.

This is what America was, and these awesome authors captured the vibrant pulse of Americans building a nation.

Post-Modernism is from 1940 until now. Actually, the giving of a name to a period of literature occurs over time.

Writers, critics, and literary academicians toss out literary names like pieces of spaghetti to see what sticks best. Therefore, post-modernism could also be called the Contemporary period of literature, but until the dust settles on one name or the other, it’s good enough to know that it’s post-1940.

This is not rocket science. However, since there is so much literature produced now, I’ll try to suggest some more important ones, but these are not written in stone remember.

Please continue to the junior English curriculum  for lesson plans and the complete curriculum. 

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