The reading curriculum at ResponsiveEd’s Classical Academies focuses on content-rich literature from the classical Western canon. These timeless works, whether ancient or modern, speak to enduring values and noble ideas.
At ResponsiveEd we believe that great books reveal goodness, truth and beauty. They address questions of universal human importance and engage students with compelling narratives that inspire them to consider fundamental questions about what it means to be human.
While our Founders Classical Academies and our ResponsiveEd Classical Academies may rely on their own different reading lists, both focus on connecting students to content-rich literature that encourages critical thinking, sparks discussion and promotes a lifelong love of reading.
Below is a diverse sampling of cherished and contemporary titles students can expect to explore in our classical schools.
Kindergarten and 1st Grade
Fairy tales, fables and nursery rhymes are a central component of ResponsiveEd’s Core Knowledge curriculum. Not only do these classics lay the foundations for cultural literacy, but they also introduce children to the sheer joy of storytelling.
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White is a moving novel about an unlikely friendship that is revered by children and adults alike. When the farmer who owns humble Wilbur the pig decides it’s time to take him to slaughter, Charlotte the barn spider devotes herself to saving his life. White gives us a beautiful portrayal of loyalty and love that continues even beyond death.
The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh describes the journey of eight-year-old Sarah Noble with her father through the wilderness to their new farm in Connecticut. Dangers abound along the Eastern frontier of 1707 America, but Sarah learns that courage is as much a matter of overcoming your assumptions as it is confronting your fears.
In Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty the young horse is taught by his mother to live by a set of principles — to be gentle and good, to work with goodwill and to never act violently. Through good times and trails, the courageous Black Beauty always strives to live by those principles.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott follows the lives of four sisters as they emerge from adolescence. Exploring selfless generosity, duty, sacrifice and the importance of morals at the heart of the book is the strong familial bond of the March family.
The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain is a fantasy whose satiric edge is sure to resonate with young adults. Two 16th century English boys identical in appearance — Edward, Prince of Wales, and beggar Tom Canty — agree to exchange places. Dressed in rags, Edward endures numerous hardships while Tom, among the royals, lives in fear of being discovered for who he really is.
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred G. Taylor presents the story of a family in Jim Crow, Depression-era Mississippi. The nine-year-old main character in this 1977 Newbery Award-winner, Cassie Logan, discovers the meaning of and challenges of dignity, self-respect and independence.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee portrays childhood in a sleepy Southern town rocked by a racial crisis. Through the author’s adept storytelling students encounter mild-mannered but steely courage and responsible citizenship.
The Odyssey by Homer tells of the great Greek hero Odysseus’ ten-year journey home. Along the way, the wily hero grows in wisdom as he encounters sirens, a cyclops, goddesses, the underworld and forces of natures. A cornerstone of classical literature, this epic has been retold and referenced by authors throughout history.
Beowulf is one of the oldest poems in the English language. Beowulf, the great champion, comes to the rescue of Hrothgar, king of the Danes, whose land is under attack the monstrous Grendel. A story of heroic deeds and epic battles against demons and dragons, Beowulf presents a world based on codes of honor.
The Tempest is one of the last masterpieces of William Shakespeare. Neither fully a comedy nor a tragedy, it tells the story of Prospero, the exiled Duke of Milan, and his daughter Miranda. Through the exercise of both magic and political savvy, Prospero orchestrates events to regain his lost prestige.
Emma by Jane Austen teaches that the best-laid plans often stray into unforeseen territory. Through its imperfect but charming and well-meaning heroine, Emma Woodhouse, readers explore friendship, social status, self-realization, love and marriage.
If you share ResponsiveEd’s love of great literature, as well as our passion for helping students realize their highest potential and grow into lifelong learners, we invite you to join us and become part of our team. We have openings in many disciplines at our classical schools, and we would love to hear from you today.
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