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Literary Focus Academic Enrichment Professional Development

Now Enrolling
2024 Summer Courses!

Building better readers, writers, and thinkers

Literary Focus is a nonprofit organization that provides live, online literature courses for college-bound students in Grades 7-12 and professional development for secondary school English teachers.

—Students—

Would you like to discuss literature in small, seminar-style classes to prepare for the rigor and challenge of college-level coursework?

Student Reading novel at table
female student reading on a laptop

Would you benefit from individual instruction to learn how to read more closely, write more clearly, and think more deeply?

Would you like to share thoughts and ideas with a diverse group of motivated students from around the country and the world?

student smiling cross-legged on the ground in a library

What Parents Say about Literary Focus:

Five Stars.png

September 8, 2023

"Absolutely delighted with these courses and Mr. Bunting! Exactly what we were looking for.  Mr. Bunting is patient, supportive and on point, and my son was engaged the whole time.  He helps kids think for themselves by asking the right questions and allowing them to formulate their own conclusions instead of simply giving them the answers.  I like that approach—it has really helped my boy to develop the courage to express his thoughts openly.  Mr. Bunting's approach is constructive and really positive.  My son completed two courses this summer, Things Fall Apart and Macbeth, and he learned to look at a book from many different points of view.  Derek has a great way of including every child in the conversation and making the lessons not only fun and interactive, but also compelling so the kids look forward to the next class to continue the discussions.  We look forward to taking more courses in the future.  It was an awesome experience and highly recommended!"

- Aarti D.

London, England

Derek School 2017.jpg
Derek Bunting
CEO/Founder
Lead Instructor

B.A. English

Dartmouth College


M.A. Education

Stanford University

Winter Courses

2024

We teach six books each session at three levels of difficulty to accommodate various ages and abilities:

Level I

Our Level I books are typically taught in Grades 7-9 and utilize relatively simple vocabulary and straightforward syntax.  The underlying themes can be nuanced, however, and students will need to learn how to read closely and think deeply to uncover the work's hidden meaning.  These books offer a solid foundation for those students who are still developing the basic skills and knowledge necessary for more advanced literary analysis.

Level II

Level II books are generally taught in Grades 10-11 and contain more advanced vocabulary, challenging syntax, and complex themes.  Students will need to learn how to read between the lines to understand the writer's true intent.  The most widely read classics in American and World Literature fall in this category, and most colleges will expect incoming students to have read these books at some point in their high school careers.

Level III

Level III books are the most challenging that students will read at the high school level.  They are usually reserved for AP classes in Grade 12 and represent the type of books that students will read at the college level.  These books are subtle and complex, often employing difficult syntax that requires careful reading to decipher the underlying themes.  When students are comfortable with Level III books, they know that they are ready for college.

Session One

January 16 - February 8

Morning Courses

Level I

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

January 16 - February 8

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

Of Mice and Men.tif

Publisher's Note:

 

While the powerlessness of the laboring class is a recurring theme in John Steinbeck's work, he narrowed his focus when composing Of Mice and Men in 1937, creating an intimate portrait of two migrant laborers, George and Lenny, who confront a world marked by petty tyranny, misunderstanding, jealousy, and callousness.  But though the scope of the novel is narrow, the theme is universal: a loyal friendship and shared dream that make an individual's existence meaningful.

Level II

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

January 16 - February 8

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

The Joy Luck Club II.tif

Publisher's Note:

 

After World War II, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mah jong, and talk.  United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club.  With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan’s debut novel—published in 1989 and now widely regarded as a modern classic—examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between these four women and their American-born daughters.

Level III

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

January 16 - February 8

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

12:00 p.m. - 12:50 p.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

The Kite Runner.tif

Publisher's Note:

 

The unforgettable, heartbreaking story of the unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the

son of his father’s servant, Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner transports readers to Afghanistan at a tense and crucial moment of the country's history.  A powerful story of friendship, it is also about the price of betrayal and the possibility of redemption.  Since its publication in 2003, The Kite Runner has become a beloved, one-of-a-kind classic of contemporary literature.

Afternoon Courses

Level I

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

January 16 - February 8

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

4:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

A Raisin in the Sun.tif

Publisher's Note:

 

Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun became an instant classic when it was first performed on Broadway in 1959, making its author, at the age of twenty-nine, the youngest American, the fifth woman, and the first Black playwright ever to be awarded the Best Play of the Year prize by the New York Drama Critics.  James Baldwin wrote in a review that “never before in the entire history of American theater had so much of the truth of Black people’s lives been seen on the stage.”

Level II

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

January 16 - February 8

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

5:00 p.m. - 5:50 p.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

The Great Gatsby.jpg

Publisher's Note:

 

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, one of the undisputed classics of American literature, was published in 1925 and brings to life the Jazz Age of the Roaring ‘20s.  Nick Carraway, a Yale graduate and veteran of the Great War, moves to West Egg, Long Island, eager to leave behind his native Middle West, and rents a small house next to the fabulously wealthy and enigmatic Jay Gatsby, a man who comes to represent both the promise and the corruption of the American Dream.

Level III

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

January 16 - February 8

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

6:00 p.m. - 6:50 p.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

Frankenstein.jpg

Publisher's Note:

 

Obsessed with creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders graveyards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life with electricity.  But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear.  Mary Shelley’s chilling Gothic tale, originally published in 1818 and then revised in 1831, remains a devastating exploration of the limits of scientific knowledge and human creativity.

Session Two

February 20 - March 14

Morning Courses

Level I

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

February 20 - March 14

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

To Kill a Mockingbird.jpg

Publisher's Note:

 

One of the best-loved stories of all-time, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, is gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable coming-of-age tale set in the Depression-era South during a time that is poisoned by virulent prejudice.  Lee's novel views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of Scout, a young girl whose father, Atticus Finch, a crusading local lawyer, risks everything to defend a Black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.

Level II

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

February 20 - March 14

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.tif

Publisher's Note:

 

Of all the contenders for the title of The Great American Novel, none has a better claim than Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Written in 1884 against the backdrop of the nation’s desire to expand into the promised future of the West, the novel stands as a stark reminder of the difficulty of escaping inherited traditions and prejudices.  Huck and Jim’s voyage down the Mississippi River portrays a turbulent epoch in American history in voices that are often satirical but always authentic.

Level III

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

February 20 - March 14

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

12:00 p.m. - 12:50 p.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

The Namesake.jpg

Publisher's Note:

 

In Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake, published in 2003, we meet the Ganguli family, new arrivals from Calcutta, trying their best to become Americans even as they pine for home.  The name they bestow on their firstborn, Gogol, betrays all the conflicts of honoring tradition in a new world—conflicts that will haunt Gogol on his own winding path through divided loyalties.  Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Jhumpa Lahiri brilliantly illuminates the tangled ties of the immigrant experience.

Afternoon Courses

Level I

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

February 20 - March 14

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

4:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

Night.jpg

Publisher's Note:

 

Born in Transylvania, Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp and then later to Buchenwald.  Night, published in 1956, is the terrifying record of the death of Wiesel’s family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair confronting the evil of which humans are capable.  Wiesel’s memoir is one of the most important documents of our time with its message that this type of horror must never be allowed to happen again.

Level II

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

February 20 - March 14

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

5:00 p.m. - 5:50 p.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

Their Eyes Were Watching God.jpg

Publisher's Note:

 

A classic of American literature, Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, published in 1937, tells the story of Janie Crawford’s evolving selfhood as a fair-skinned, long-haired, dreamy child who grows up trying to enjoy her life without being one man’s mule or another man’s adornment.  Even though the story does not end happily, it draws to a satisfying conclusion as Janie becomes a woman who refuses to live lost in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams.

Level III

Duration:

Four Weeks

Dates:

February 20 - March 14

Days:

Tuesdays and Thursdays

 

Time:

6:00 p.m. - 6:50 p.m. MT

Tuition:

$225

Heart of Darkness.tif

Publisher's Note:

 

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, published in 1899, Marlow, a seaman and wanderer, recounts his physical and psychological journey in search of the infamous ivory trader Mr. Kurtz.  Travelling upriver to the heart of Africa, he gradually becomes obsessed by how this enigmatic figure has gained power and control over the local people, which makes him question, not only his own nature and values, but those of Western civilization itself in this highly influential Modernist masterpiece. 

—Teachers—

Are you a veteran teacher interested in incorporating new instructional strategies and curricular designs into your existing practice?

Teacher thinking and gazing out of the window
Teacher reading a book while sipping coffee

Are you a new teacher looking for a comprehensive framework to teach any novel or play in an effective and engaging manner?

Are you a teacher eager to share your thoughts and ideas with other dedicated professionals outside your existing school?
teacher smiling while working on a laptop

—Donate—

student reading while sitting on steps

Please support our mission by donating what you can to provide scholarships for students in financial need or from underrepresented communities.

Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches as part of the USDA National School Lunch Program automatically receive tuition waivers to attend our academic enrichment classes.

Your generosity provides financial support for these students, and since we are a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, your contribution is 100% tax deductible.

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