Are you looking for easy American literature worksheets to use in your ELA classroom? Or have you last-minute landed an American literature class and need you ideas pronto? Either way, you’ll find something useful in this blog post.
Today I’m not going to lay out a whole American literature curriculum, nor an entire unit plan to study American literature.
I’m also not going to explain how to teach American literature because, to be honest, I don’t have enough experience in the area to do so.
Instead, I’m going to show you over fifteen easy, no-prep worksheets you can use in your American literature classes.
These American literature activities are your fast and easy lessons for when your life is exploding and you don’t have the brain space to think of what to do tomorrow in class.
You know those weeks . . . your kid had a fever on Monday and your husband is stressing about work and being weird (and slightly useless on the adulting/parenting front). On Tuesday you had work and then the kids’ swimming lessons.
And on Wednesday it’s your oldest kid’s birthday and you have to buy a present, plan for the ‘family’ birthday celebration, and also organize a birthday party for the weekend with approximately twenty-thousand screaming six-year-olds. Yay!
So, in those weeks, this blog post is your lifesaver. Fun, full of color, and also some small holes in it (in terms of curriculum, not the worksheets). But that’s ok, because you weren’t expecting a full curriculum.
I *will* throw you an American lesson plan though: video + worksheet. Boom. Done! You throw on a Crash Course Literature video and deal out the worksheets.
Then, you take a breath. Because your week has been hectic and you’re about three ‘Miss, can I borrow a pen?’s’ away from needing a straightjacket to stop you from losing your sh*t, throwing a tantrum, and lobbing the pens into the fans so they ricochet into those ill-equipped teens.
That could just be me. Ok, I’ll take a breath. It’s been a week.
Moving on. If you’re keen for more, I’ll list a few other ideas at the end of the post. But if you’ve read the British literature lesson plans blog post from last time, not gonna lie, they’re basically the same.
So, let’s get started with these American literature worksheets already!
#1: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Our worksheet mini-bundle for these videos is here. But you can also buy them individually (but really, do yourself a favor and save some cashola by buying them as a bundle).
#2: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The worksheet mini-bundle for the videos is here. Again, you can buy them individually (but remember, $$).
If you are looking for more activities for The Great Gatsby, check out this blog post that has 30+ activities for the classic.
#3: The poetry of Emily Dickinson
#4: Beloved by Toni Morrison
This is a great one if you are teaching African American literature, either as a standalone subject or as a unit within your American literature class.
#5: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
We also have a blog post with other activities for how to teach Huck Finn.
#6: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The worksheets to go with the videos are available as a mini-bundle here, and of course, you can buy them individually.
If you’re looking for other activities to use while teaching To Kill a Mockingbird, check out our blog post here which has over 20 activities.
#7: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Our worksheets are available as a mini-bundle here.
If you want more teaching resources for Slaughterhouse-Five, we have this blog post with before-reading, while-reading, and after-reading activities.
#8: the poetry of Langston Hughes
Another great inclusion if you’re teaching African American literature is the second of the poet’s in this blog post, Langston Hughes. You can find the Crash Course Literature video about his poetry here.
#9: the poetry of Sylvia Plath
#10: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Another African American author, Zora Neale Hurston and her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God would also be a strong inclusion if you are teaching African American literature.
You can find the video for her novel here and our worksheet here. If you want more teaching resources for the novel, check out this blog post for fast and engaging lesson plans for Their Eyes Were Watching God.
#11: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man is the next worksheet we have. This text is also a strong choice to include in an African American unit or integrate into your American literature curriculum. The Crash Course Literature video for it is here and our worksheet is here.
#12: Sula by Toni Morrison
Another entry for Toni Morrison is her novel Sula. The video for it is here and our worksheet is here. This is also another strong choice if you are aiming to include more African American literature in your curriculum.
#13: The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
The sci-fi classic The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler is the last novel by an African American author on our list. The Crash Course Literature video is here and our worksheet to accompany it is here.
#14: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
American literature worksheet follow-up activities
We promised some possible follow-up activities to the basic video and worksheet lesson plan, so here they are. Again, if you read the post on British literature lesson plans they’ll be veeeerrryyy familiar.
- Write a paragraph explaining how American literature is ir/relevant to teens today using evidence from the video/text to back up your opinion.
- Find 5 quotes from an American literature text and create quote posters illustrating the quotes.
- Create an infographic (using Canva) about some element of an American literature text you’ve studied. It could be about the author, themes, the plot, characters, or important quotes.
- Create 5-10 memes using a meme creator to explain the plot of an American text you have studied before. You could use imgflip, makeameme, or Canva.
- Do a ‘brain dump’ about every American literature text you’ve studied this year. You have 5 minutes to write down everything that you can think of or remember.
- Create a fake text-message exchange between two characters from an American literature text you’ve studied before.
But wait, you say . . .
Where’s the fifteenth worksheet? Well, some of the resources above have more than one. And if you’ve read this far, you might be interested in the American literature worksheet bundle, which you can find here.
Because it’s true what all those frugality influencers say, buying in bulk can save you some dollar dollar bills.
That’s all ladies and gents . . .
We hope you’ve found something to help when you’re teaching American literature, whether that’s American literature lesson plans for high school ELA, American literature worksheets, or even just a worksheet for your 11th grade American literature lesson plan that you need to leave for a substitute teacher tomorrow.