There are many wonderful teaching strategies educators can use to cultivate and develop an appreciation of world literature within their students. Initially, developing an appreciation for world literature in high school students requires that teachers select reading material with themes that are relevant to the modern era in which we live.
Interest and appreciation for the book To Kill A Mockingbird for example could be generated by having a brief class discussion on race relations. The teacher and students could collaborate to create a detailed timeline of 15 to 20 social, cultural, and political events that occurred in the 1930s. The activity would familiarize students with the attitudes and issues of the Depression era in the deep South, while simultaneously teaching students how African-Americans overcame such prejudicial attitudes.
Following the class discussion on race relations, teachers could ask students to keep reading journals and document their reactions to the book as they read it. Reading journals allow students to enjoy literature and make remarks about points of interest as they come to them during the reading.
Next teachers can assign students free writing exercises in which they can respond to elements of the story, as well as prompt driven responses. Important elements of the story, aspects crucial to the theme, and anything of unique interest to a student should be encouraged to be reflected upon during the reading. The story's main conflict, it's level of importance, and possible solutions are all worthy topics for students to evaluate and discuss.
Evaluations containing students' assertions and assumptions should cite supportive textual evidence. This will clearly demonstrate students' mental comprehension processes.
Worthy of recognition in Harper Lee's novel To Kill A Mockingbird is the author's observations of her family and neighbors. The events which occurred in her hometown in 1936, made a profound impression upon the ten-year-old Scout. The issues of rape, race relations, gender bias, and class conflict all were found throughout the text. These issues are seemingly universal in nature and therefore effect every generation. The primary themes of racial injustice and the destruction of innocence are both disheartening and enlightening. These themes provide students with a sufficient amount to think about, when posed in the form of meaningful and probing questions.
The noble lessons within the novel emphasizing tolerance and decrying prejudice are instructional for students, while giving them much to discuss and write about.
The character Atticus stated, "You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them." This heartfelt instruction to his children awakened compassion in them to not be so quick to prematurely judge a man, nor a matter. Teachers can ask students when if ever they prematurely judged a person or situation. Students should also be asked how they remedied the wrong and made it right.
Jem, Scout, and Dil all attended the court hearing of Tom Robinson, a negro gentleman who had been falsely accused. As a sign of solidarity and racial unity, the children sat upstairs in the courthouse with the black Pastor and folks. Questions about the role of each character, what their temperament portrayed and revealed, along with the possibility of what that person might be doing today all are excellent and thought provoking questions for students.
Tying the literature together with modern day events will also enable the students to apply what they are learning. A discussion about what Atticus would have said and done had he been alive in our day would be a stimulating conversation for students.