When searching for historical books to teach 8th grade students, several important ones come to mind. Mark Twain authored two of the most famous, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Written in 1876, Mr. Twain based his books on his own childhood experiences growing up in Hannibal, Missouri.
Tom Sawyer is the most common book for 8th graders to study for several important reasons. The characters of Tom and Huck bring to life so many exciting adventures. Engaging the students in reading can be a tedious experience,however getting them to read Tom Sawyer is quite the opposite. After the first two chapters, the students are excited to read these classic novels. It is easy to draw discussion from them after reading about the life struggles and pranks that Tom and Huck engage in.
Even though the book was written over a hundred years ago, the story still brings much joy and laughter to 8th grade students. They seem to relate to the childish ways of Tom, his love for Becky Thatcher and his adventures. In this video game world we live in, the students still love to go outside and attempt to build a raft out of sticks and rope, copying the one that Tom and Huck built. Their imaginations are aroused by these two pranksters and they want to experience some of the fun that they seem to have in every chapter.
This book is perfect for in class reading and discussion, as well as learning the history that is included in the book. Most 8th grade students are remarkably unaware of the racial tensions during that time. Each chapter has a moral that can easily be discussed or an essay written about it. While reading this book, students learn so much about southern culture, including farm life, how the poor survived, the importance of the Church and life on the Mississippi, and how blacks were treated during this time.
No wonder it is the most common book for 8th graders to study. This classic book brings to life a time in history that should never be forgotten. By reading it, students have a better understanding of the struggles that blacks faced and the era they lived in. It makes them question how our nation deals with minorities and makes them aware of the mistakes of our past. By engaging students in reading this classic book, they can realize how life was lived during this period after the Civil War.
While History books describe our past, Tom Sawyer puts you in his shoes and lets you feel what he felt. In doing so, the students become more aware and reflective of the struggles that he faced and the persistence he had to overcome his struggles. It shows students that growing up can be difficult and that choices they make during these important years form the kind of adult they will become. It also encourages them to get out and live the most adventurous life they can, take some risks, and use their imaginations. That is perhaps what makes Tom Sawyer such a classic and well loved book.