Top 10 Tuesday: Back to School Pairs

This year is the first in a few years that we have been officially back to school at our house. It’s nice to be back in a schedule and a routine. As an adjunct professor, I always love back to school and planning for new classes. I was excited to see that the prompt for this week’s TTT (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) is a back to school freebie.

They gave a lot of cool ideas on how to follow this prompt. The one that stuck out to me was pairing classic books with more contemporary novels. I love thinking about what books I would teach in a classroom, and this twist just sounded so cool!

So here it is–my list of books I would teach in pairs, one classic and one contemporary. Enjoy!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett & Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass by Fredrick Douglass // I remember reading Fredrick Douglass’s memoir, or pieces of it, in high school. These books both discuss the difficulties of life for black people in America–but are set over a century apart. It would be so interesting to read these side by side and compare the ways the characters interact, overcome, and identify as Americans.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak & The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom // If you’ve been here before, you know I love WWII novels. Obviously, you can’t find a classic about WWII that is too old. But The Hiding Place was published 1971 so I’m counting it as classic for the purpose of this post 🙂 What I love about pairing these two novels is they both narrate a more unique side of the war–hiding Jewish people from the Nazis.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and Austenland by Shannon Hale // This pairing seemed obvious to me. Hale creates a modern twist on Austen and her classic stories. It would be fun to talk about the ways the modern world hinders the “true Austen experience.” But I would really enjoy comparing how these stories are similar. While Hale is satirizing the Austen world, she also celebrates it.

The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer & Peter Pan by J .M. Barrie // These are both recent fantasy reads for me. I would love to teach these side by side because they both center on siblings who leave our reality and travel to a magical land–Neverland and The Land of Stories. It would be interesting to talk about world creation, settings, and fantasy as we read these novels.

Matilda by Roald Dahl & Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery // Okay. This pairing might be my favorite and one of my more clever ideas. 😉 Both Anne and Matilda have difficult childhoods but find love and happiness through books and new loving families. How fun would it be to read these side by side and discuss their journeys?

The Princess Bride by William Goldman & The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy // This pairing is an interesting one. I put them together because they are both adventure stories with a driving plot. And they both had a mysterious character whose identity is (at least initially) unknown–The Scarlet Pimpernel himself and the Man in Black. It would be fun to talk about identity and character development with these novels.

Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson & Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen // I know, another Jane Austen pairing, but can you blame me? I think everyone should read at least one Austen novel. These books would be so fun to read side by side as they explore similar settings, societies, and themes. Plus, they are both beautiful romances.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel & The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas  // Both of these books explore themes of religion, God, redemption, and fate. I would study them together because of these deep thematic elements and the potential for some truly interesting class discussions about those themes. And I would probably teach the abridged CoMC if I were teaching high school. The unabridged is rather daunting.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale & A Little Princess by Francis Hodgsen Burnett // These are both darling novels about princesses. I would love to talk about the word princess and how it is used in both these novels. They both use the word princess differently than just royalty that live in palaces.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee & Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford // I just finished Ford’s novel and loved it. Review coming soon! These books are both so beautifully written and tackle intense themes in effective ways. Ford discusses the Japanese internment of WWII and Lee discusses the treatment of blacks in the south in the 1930s. I would love to read these side by side and teach the similarities and differences in their approaches to difficult subjects.

What do you think? Which pairs would you enjoy reading together?
And which pairs would you add?


35 thoughts on “Top 10 Tuesday: Back to School Pairs

  1. I keep on trying to read Jane Austen, but just can’t manage it. I think I should enjoy it, I like other similar books and settings, but I always seem to give up at around 50 pages, dominadmire anyone who manages them!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha. Oh no! I’m sorry to hear that. Sometimes it just takes the right timing. I couldn’t get into Jane Eyre for years; then last year I couldn’t read fast enough and loved it. I hope you find that perfect moment one day! Austen is one of my all time favorites 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I hope you do find the right moment one day! I think Emma is really fun, witty, and easier to get into. And Pride and Prejudice is classic Austen. My favorite lately has been Persuasion but it can be a bit slower. I’d love to hear which you choose and how you like it 🙂


  2. Ellis Ferrell

    This is such a brilliant list idea! I especially like the comparison between The Princess Bride and The Scarlet Pimpernel. I never have thought of it, but it’s great.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Caitlin! Haha, I am the exact same way. I guess it would have to be a class full of nerds then. Perhaps a college literature course would have better success? Or just a book group? Either way, I want to be involved in it 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


  3. Some great books on here and I love your pairings. I need to think now about what pairing I would like – perhaps Lord of the Rings and Prince of Thorns – a classic fantasy and a more uptodate grim dark one.
    Lynn 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I LOVED your spin on this week’s topic! I know it was one of the suggestions, but you did an amazing job with it! Your pairings are so well done and insightful. I cannot wait for your review of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, this book has been sitting on my shelf for far too long!

    Liked by 1 person

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