Top Novels for American Literature Classes

Every school system and teacher have different methods for choosing the novels that students read each year of high school. Here is a list detailing some of the most frequently taught American Literature novels in classrooms today.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mark Twain's (Samuel Clemen's) classic novel is a must for all students studying American humor and satire. While banned in some school districts, it is a widely read and appreciated novel.

The Scarlet Letter

The Scarlett Letter

Hester Prynne was marked in scarlet for her indiscretions. Students connect with this classic novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and it's great for discussion.

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee's awesome novel of the Deep South in the midst of the Depression is always an excellent choice for high school students.

The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage (Dover Thrift Editions)

Henry Fleming struggles with bravery and courage during the Civil War in this excellent book by Stephen Crane. Great for integrating history and literature.

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

Can anyone think of the 'flapper' era of the 1920s without thinking of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby?" Students and teachers alike find this era in history fascinating.

The Grapes of Wrath

The Grapes of Wrath (Centennial Edition)

John Steinbeck's tale of Dust Bowl victims ​traveling west for a better life is a classic look at life during the Great Depression.

The Call of the Wild

The Call of the Wild (Global Classics)

Told from Buck the dog's point of view, "The Call of the Wild" is Jack London's masterpiece of self-reflection and identity.

Invisible Man: A Novel

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison's classic novel about racial prejudice should not be missed. Many of the problems that his narrator faces throughout the novel sadly are still present in America today.

A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms

One of the best novels of World War I, Ernest Hemingway tells of the war as a backdrop to a love story between an American ambulance driver and an English nurse.

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury's classic 'novelette' portrays a futuristic world where firemen start fires instead of putting them out. They burn books. Students enjoy this quick read that packs a huge psychological punch.

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Kelly, Melissa. "Top Novels for American Literature Classes." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Kelly, Melissa. (2020, August 27). Top Novels for American Literature Classes. Retrieved from Kelly, Melissa. "Top Novels for American Literature Classes." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 30, 2023).