Why We Read Literature

Posted on October 29, 2019

Dear Friends and Family,

Fall in Western Loudoun creates the perfect backdrop for some of our students’ favorite activities, including nature study, poetry writing, and the reading of literature. Hues of yellow and orange, mixed with sunny days and a hint of cool air, brings to mind a favorite quote of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables:

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” said Anne Shirley in a moment of rapture embracing the beauty of the natural world.

The modern world may wonder: However rich and enjoyable the observations and experiences of a fictional character may be, what value do they provide? They cannot be monetized through the standards of the modern economy. So why read literature at all? And why make it a significant part of a young person’s formative years?

The trend of confusing schooling with job training, measuring success narrowly by the acquisition of skills acquired, has become so ingrained in our society, that it is worth exploring why classic literature and good books comprise a significant part of the Good Shepherd curriculum.

Our students read classic literature and good books because they are beautiful, emotion-evoking, and complex. Within the pages of an excellent work of fiction, students of all ages discover characters, actions and reactions, historical periods, and emotions that are at the same time new and familiar. At its essence, literature is the study of man. It is an exploration of the human experience. It is an invitation to encounter and grapple with the experiences of others, in order to deepen our understanding of our existence in the present world.

We encourage you to review our Curriculum Guide to peruse the works of literature our students read throughout their Good Shepherd education. You will recognize great works that you may have read throughout your education, including:

  • Lower Elementary’s Aesop’s fablesCharlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder;
  • Upper Elementary’s Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Greenand Johnny Tremain by Esther Hoskins Forbes; and
  • Middle School’s The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. TolkienAnimal Farm by George OrwellMacbeth by William Shakespeare and The Secret of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton.

You may also discover unfamiliar books that have become favorites among our faculty and students. We encourage you to read along with us!

In Christ, Our Good Shepherd,

Kimberly Begg

Head of School

P.S. Read our October Newsletter here!