The South is steeped in lovely traditions. Growing up here I was not really aware of it. It just was where I lived. It took some growing up and moving away to realize how lucky I am to have grown up in the South. No everything is not perfect. There are people who still think the south should have won the war among other things. But we also have people who are truly caring and kind.
When I moved to California one of the first things I noticed was that no one looked at you when you passed them on the streets. I couldn’t believe it. Here when you pass someone walking you say, “Hello” and maybe even stop and chat.
When Keilee was planning her 9th grade year we discussed doing Southern Literature. I loved it when I was in high school. It wasn’t required but I took every Literature class that was offered. My teacher was this lovely southern lady with that great old school Southern voice. My Mother talked like that. Very slowly and and with such an amazing accent.
When we begin looking for a curriculum we couldn’t find anything. So with my brother’s help, who was an English major, we made a plan.
I bought a book he recommended called “Growing Up In the South: An Anthology of Southern Literature”. The stories were full of beauty and poverty and racism and joy and heartbreak and first love and more. There was a bio before each one of the authors and Keilee researched each author and did a notebook page on each one. We read each story aloud. We looked up words we didn’t know. We Googled places mentioned and found they were all real places. One of our favorites was from “A Southern Landscape” that mentioned a church with a gold finger pointing toward heaven. We looked it up and it is a real place in Port Gibson, MS.
We spent the year in the Deep South, in cotton fields, during some of the most life changing events of the 60’s, on the Mississippi River, in old Southern mansions and so much more.
We read lovely stories by William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Maya Angelou, Flannery O’Conner, Eudora Welty and more. We even found a few authors on YouTube actually reading their stories.
We used Shmoop as a reference to so many other things. We listened to songs written about “A Rose For Emily” by William Faulkner. Keilee took reading comprehension tests from the same site. It is full of GREAT resources.
Each section of the book is divided into categories; “Places and Voices”, “Families”, “Southern Communities” and “Southern Stereotypes”. After each few stories she would write a report on the story she liked best of the group and how the author used words to exemplify the category is was in.
The book that was on every single book list was “To Kill A Mockingbird”. We listened to that book on audio when Keilee was 11 and she played Scout in the play. We also watched the movie. She has such an unbelievable knowledge of this book now.
We branched off and did a short study on Truman Capote. He was a beautiful writer but a tortured soul. We read autobiographies and watched YouTube videos of him speaking. We watched and read “A Christmas Memory”. It is a beautiful story about Truman Capote when he was a boy and his relationship with his aunt “Sook”. I HIGHLY recommend it if you aren’t familiar with it. We read it every Christmas. In fact this Christmas my brother recorded the story with him reading it and gave it to us. He is a wonderful reader. We read several short stories by Capote and watched “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and researched the background and making of it.
We also watched “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams. We listened to “Fried Green Tomatoes” by Fannie Flagg. We watched “The Help” again and listened to the audio book.
I found a video on YouTube that an Advanced English high school teacher posted. It was a summary of what her students would be reading in a semester. It was 3 short stories! I couldn’t believe it. We probably read 40-50 stories and watched several movies and listened to several audio books.
I feel like Keilee now has a great background in Southern Literature. We are forever making references to things we see or hear and the stories we read. These stories and characters are a part of her now. They are in her blood. Just like the magnolias and the smells of Alabama dirt and the accents and the smell of rain falling on fall leaves and the hot summer nights filled with lightening bugs. And no matter where she ends up, she will always have those memories.
“Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon after their three o’clock naps. And by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frosting from sweating and sweet talcum. The day was twenty-four hours long, but it seemed longer. There’s no hurry, for there’s nowhere to go and nothing to buy…and no money to buy it with.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
“I’ve barely said five words to you. What indication could you possibly have that I am a Yankee?”
“Well, we could start with the words ‘what indication.’ Someone from south of the Mason-Dixon would have said, ‘Who the hell are you calling a Yankee?’ Then we would have fought.” ― Jana Deleon
“The food in the South is as important as food anywhere because it defines a person’s culture.” ― Fannie Flagg