Long Story Short: Study Classic Literature from a Biblical Perspective


Short stories are special. They quickly introduce us to characters, settings, conflict, and themes that relate to our lives. Short story authors are a special breed as well, able to craft a satisfying, thought-provoking story that we can read in one sitting. Stories reflect life and help us see ourselves and the world in which we live. In this course, we will use classic short stories to learn how to analyze literary devices, figurative language, story elements, characterization, theme, etc. while thinking about and discussing essential questions through a biblical lens.




Our language is not progressing; it’s degrading. LOL. See what I did there? Older, classical literature is written with rich vocabulary, beautiful imagery, and complex sentence structures, and they contain ideas that make us ponder ourselves and our world deeply. When we study classic literature through a biblical worldview, we can better understand our world and strengthen our Christian perspective on life. The stories chosen in this curriculum have some value of beauty in regard to the literature and help us bring out important biblical principles.

Short stories are special.

Short literature quickly introduces us to characters, settings, conflicts, and themes that relate to our lives. These authors are a special breed as well, able to craft a satisfying, thought-provoking story that we can read in one sitting. Stories reflect life and help us understand God and see ourselves and the world in which we live correctly when understood from a biblical perspective. In this course, we will use classic short stories to learn how to analyze literary devices, figurative language, story elements, characterization, theme, etc. while thinking about and discussing an essential question.

Online Curriculum Explained:

This online curriculum includes 30-weeks of English material. This course includes writing and could serve as an entire year of high school English. In most weeks, students study one story. Some weeks we cover two stories in order to compare and contrast. Students work through the content at their own pace, and we encourage parent involvement. You will have fantastic conversations, I promise! While this online curriculum does not include teacher feedback and interaction, learners can always reach out with questions. If your learner would do better with teacher interaction, this service is offered as an add-on. Coming soon.

A Snapshot of One Week of Work:
  1. After reading and thinking about the essential questions, students write a short response explaining their initial thoughts. For example, while reading “Araby” by James Joyce and “Witches’ Loaves” by O. Henry, students study and ponder two essential questions:
    • What is the difference between infatuation and love?
    • What effect does infatuation have on the mind and heart?
  2. Students study the Bible. This includes scripture reading, watching a video lesson, or other interactive activities to build a foundation of biblical knowledge of important precepts that inform the answers to the essential questions. For instance, to answer those two essential questions, we read Judges 14 about Samson and the Philistine woman who seemed “right in his own eyes.” He was infatuated! Then we read Hosea 3 about Gomer and Gomer, a picture of agape love that will move the hearts of readers as we see a picture of the gospel! Students hear video teaching from Mrs. Lemons to help them understand how these precepts relate to teenagers. They complete a quiz to help them solidify their understanding.
  3. Learners continue their preparation for reading by learning new vocabulary with an interactive activity and quiz. Then they learn a few idioms and literary elements. Last, they read a mini-biography on the author and take another quiz
  4. Finally, learners read the story and take a comprehension quiz. The story text and audiobook are always provided to help with comprehension. Remember, we are reading classic literature and these stories are written at the upper high school level.
  5. Next, students dive deeper into the literature. In this case, they study the vast religious allusions in “Araby.” They go back and read the story again, annotating and exploring in close-reading activities.
  6. Students evaluate the story as a piece of literature, both for its beauty and value as a piece of entertainment.
  7. Last, students respond to the literature through writing. This is their final opportunity to think through the material and synthesize all they have learned into a coherent response to given prompts related to the essential questions. This writing is not graded; rather, it is anonymously posted to the Lemons-Aid website as an example of how to read secular, classical literature with a biblical worldview. Students are writing to a real audience and should do their best.
Parental Guidance:

***While we read many touching and sweet stories, others have mature themes, such as murder, violence, suicide, revenge, alcohol, death, prejudices, racism, guilt, betrayal, etc., and are intended for mature secondary students. For example, in Edgar Allan Poe’s classic tale, “The Cask of Amontillado,” the main character is a murderer getting revenge. He takes a drunken man down to a cellar and buries him alive. We read everything with a biblical worldview, so in this example, students learn what the Bible says about taking revenge, the potential for wickedness in men, and the dangers of drunkenness. We study a heavy dose of Proverbs with this particular story. I avoid stories with sexual themes as well as modern stories. The stories we do read are classics and most–if not all–were written a century ago or longer and are commonly read in high schools. They help students understand the world in which they live as they ponder deep questions that are as relevant now as they were then. Stories are written with a Lexile score between 700-1400. I encourage students to talk to their parents about the stories and the issues they study in the lessons.***

Classic Literature: The Short Stories:

Each week’s story is on a drip schedule, meaning a new story with its lesson pathway is unlocked each week. Students can go slower than a story a week, but they cannot go faster:

  • “Ruthless” by William de Mille
  • “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell
  • “Araby” by James Joyce and “Witches’ Loaves” by O. Henry
  • “To Build a Fire” by Jack London
  • “The Bet” by Anton Chekhov
  • “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathanial Hawthorne
  • “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” by Mark Twain
  • “The Body Snatcher” by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  • “Lamb to the Slaughter” by Roald Dahl
  • “Rip Van Winkle” by Washington Irving
  • “The Landlady” by Roald Dahl
  • “The Reluctant Dragon” by Kenneth Grahame
  • “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” by anonymous (Arabian Nights)
  • “The Imp of the Perverse” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “A New England Nun” by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman
  • “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce
  • “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin
  • “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor
  • “The Masque of Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe
  • “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell
  • “A Retrieved Reformation” by O. Henry
  • “The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wilde
  • “A Dark Brown Dog” by Steven Crane
  • “The Phantom Rickshaw” by Rudyard Kipling
  • “A Case of Identity” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving
  • “The Last Leaf” by O. Henry
Doctrinal Statement

We have adopted The Master’s Seminary Doctrinal Statement. Learn more about Karen Lemons, the course author.


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Karen Lemons