These works can be pretty daunting for students and mere mortals alike. Even with Sparknotes, Thugnotes, and reading Amazon reviews, the classics are tough to understand. They’re classics for a reason. Students benefit when they understand the timeless themes and masterful writing gifted to us in these works.
“That’s just like…” Every time I assign reading that resonates with students, one or two will hang out after class and discuss similar situations in their lives. They find modern applications for the classics when they understand elements of the story. They become storytellers and future writers themselves, seeing that modern day novels and blockbusters like The Hunger Games are brilliantly repurposed themes from classics like George Orwell’s 1984 and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies.