Free Resources for Homeschooling High School Literature

One of the more difficult subjects for me to homeschool is literature. Although I am pretty good at grammar, I am not well versed in American and English literature as I would like to be. My goal is that my teen will have a broader reading of some of the classics than I did in high school. 
From the time we started to homeschool and the Youngest was in 5th grade, I could see that he struggled with reading comprehension. He loved to read but would have trouble remembering specific details once he finished the book. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that I could spend the extra time necessary to work with him on vocabulary and comprehension. Having good success in 5th grade helped make middle school subjects more manageable. However, once he reached high school, classic literature proved challenging. The older writing style requiring him to read slower and think deeper was a turn-off to my teen. He would rather spend his school time in history, math, and science.  
This was something that I could understand.  When I was in high school, I never minded the required reading because I loved to read. However, when it necessary to expand on the morals and elaborate on the book's concepts, I was at a loss. Couldn't I just read the book for the book itself? At the time, I didn't understand the purpose. As an adult, I know that required reading, questions, and essays in high school develop reading, writing, and critical thinking skills. Students cover the philosophies, authors, and major works that create today's unique culture. They also accomplish broad, long-term goals, as well as the short-term objectives of learning course content. (Morgan, via


free resources for homeschool high school literature
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To achieve our homeschool high school literature goals, there were two resources that proved helpful:  a homeschool book club and online literature study guides.    


1.  Homeschool Book Club


With two other homeschooling moms, we facilitated a classic book club that met once a month. The teens had the prior four weeks to read a classic book selected by the group. (We switched between American and British genres). Each mom chose a month to lead the discussion.
The group setting was helpful since each teen had to come to the meeting prepared. Students shared their own ideas about the characters and morals and learned from one another. 


2.  Literature Study Guides


While reading assigned books along with my teen, (some outside of the book club) I looked for reliable, study guides to use as we read our way through a classic book. Online study guides give summaries, questions, and other resources that helped us understand and appreciate what we were reading. 
Here is a list of resources we used that may also benefit your homeschool, and save you time. With the sources below, you should find a study guide for every single classic book.       



In my opinion, this publisher has the most complete list of free study guides. The list on this page covers everything from old classes to modern, including Shakespeare. Guides include activities that can be done before and/or after reading the book, along with study questions. Often there is a list of related works, which is helpful if the book studied sparked a real interest in that genre. 



Shmoop's mantra is "we speak student." This makes Schmoop a site that is also at the top of my list. Their study guides are written in an easy-going manner that teens appreciate and keep them engaged. In addition to a chapter by chapter summary, Shmoop includes links to videos, audios, and other noteworthy resources relating to the book. (For instance, for the book "1984," Shmoops links to the famous Apple Computers commercial and where the student can watch the movie based on the book.) Shmoops offers free resources for other subjects besides literature. A premium plan is offered, which includes test preparation and homeschool classes online. 



This site has changed favorably in the last few years and is now more teen-friendly. A bonus is that they offer the complete text of some selected classics. More on the student's level, Sparknotes offers free study guides, help with Shakespeare and other subjects. 



This site is helpful, although not always the first choice for us. The study guides are free, and their premium subscription allows access to lesson plans and essay editing. 



This site by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing is what you would expect as the online content of their popular printed study guides. The site now offers test prep.

This is a site I found just recently and looks quite helpful. Along with study guides to classical American Literature, there are children's stories, short stories, and poetry. 


This popular homeschool website offers an "Authoritative Guide to Literature for Homeschool High School." 

Have you used any of these literature study guide websites? 
Which ones did you find most helpful?  Which ones have I missed?  


  1. Helpful for homeschoolers, and also in pandemic as parents must cope with new school landscapes!

  2. Important during these pandemic times! My son was a fan of Sparknotes and Cliffnotes (though he called them old people's notes LOL). He too didn't love the classics but I too read the books because I wanted too. Oh well!

  3. I don't have high school aged children or grands but will definitely pass this on to my friends.

  4. Wow! Those are amazing resources!! I loved the high school English and British literature part of my son's homeschool experience, for the most part. But there were a few that were difficult, and those resources would have come in handy.


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