Curated Lesson Plans to Bravely Support Students’ Analysis of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World
CommonLit’s digital library has over 3,000 high-quality lessons that engage students and strengthen their reading comprehension. Additionally, we offer over 100 Book Pairings, carefully curated supplemental texts that support the books teachers read with their class. Students will gain vital reading comprehension skills and increase their ability to make cross-textual connections.
This Book Pairing was created for Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. This dystopian novel follows a cast of characters - including the main character John - struggling to thrive in World State’s society in the year A.D. 2540. First published over 90 years ago, Huxley’s novel still provides a mirror for contemporary society, inviting readers to consider large themes such as unity, freedom, and identity. Whether Brave New World is an established part of your ELA curriculum or a novel you’re teaching for the first time, CommonLit’s online literary program is here to support your students’ engagment and reading comprehension.
Extend Student Schema With Texts For Building Background Knowledge
CommonLit’s Book Pairing provides multiple texts to build student knowledge around dystopian literature and the psychological understandings of herd behavior.
“Someone Might Be Watching - An Introduction to Dystopian Fiction” by Shelby Ostergaard
In this informational text, Shelby Ostergaard discusses the characteristics of dystopian fiction and how the genre leverages exaggeration to show what could happen in real-life.
Introduce this text before students begin Brave New World to provide them with some background and history on the genre of dystopian literature. Have students consider the following questions: How does dystopian fiction mirror the world we live in? How is exaggeration used to convey thoughts about mankind and technology?
“Herd Behavior” by CommonLit Staff
This informational text, exclusive to CommonLit, describes how individuals change when they are part of a crowd.
Pair Chapter 15 of Brave New World with “Herd Behavior” to provide students with scientific and psychological background on riots. Ask them how herd behavior can be used to describe other events throughout the novel, such as the riotous scene at John’s house near the end of chapter 18? If you want to support students’ reading of this text even further, check out the Target Lesson for “Herd Behavior,” focused on main ideas! It’s a great way to add scaffolds and support differentiation within your ELA instruction.
“Excerpts from We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin
We is a work of dystopian fiction set in a future police state. This novel is thought to have inspired Brave New World and George Orwell’s 1984.
Introduce students to “Excerpts from We” after they have finished reading Brave New World. Ask students to evaluate how We may have influenced Huxley by comparing the novel to the excerpt with a particular focus on plot, themes, and political commentary.
Analyze Complex Characters and Make Comparisons With Poetry
Brave New World offers students an opportunity for extended study of complex literary characters. CommonLit supports students’ analysis with rigorous cross-textual pairings that allow for deeper examination of the main characters of Huxley’s novel through poetry analysis.
“Sonnet 18” by Williams Shakespeare
“Sonnet 18” is one of Shakespeare’s best-known love sonnets, known for its opening line: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”
Pair this sonnet with Chapter 9 of Brave New World so students have a better understanding of how Shakespeare influences John’s characterization. Ask students to discuss how Shakespeare’s language and perspective appear to affect John’s personality and point of view both after Chapter 9 and after students finish Huxley’s novel.
“(love song, with two goldfish)” by Grace Chua
In this poem, the speaker describes a love story between two goldfish in a fish bowl.
Pair Chapter 13 of Brave New World with this poem to explore the theme of the limitations of life. Ask students to discuss the following questions: What prevents John and Lenina from loving one another in the same way, or even a healthy way? How are they similar to the goldfish in the poem? What might be in John and Lenina’s ‘bowls’”
“Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas
In Dylan Thomas’ most famous poem, written for his dying father, Thomas urges his father to “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
Pair Chapter 14 of Brave New World with this poem to draw student attention to death as a theme and how it is addressed by family members. Ask students to compare John at his mother’s deathbed to the speaker of the poem. How do they address death? Does the speaker in Thomas' poem have a different attitude to death when compared to the children in the World State who witness John’s mother die?
Explore Contemporary Parallels Through Current Informational Texts
Though published 90 years ago, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is still a widely celebrated novel. These informational texts invite students to consider what messages from Huxley’s dystopian tale are still relevant in modern society.
“Total Control in North Korea” by Jessica McBirney
This informational article describes life in North Korea under totalitarian government rule.
Introduce “Total Control in North Korea” after students read Chapter 1, to provide real-world context on totalitarian states similar to the setting of the novel. Ask students to compare North Korea to World State, paying close attention to the shared value of unity.
“The New Painkiller Epidemic” by Shelby Ostergaard
In this informational text, Shelby Ostergaard discusses the spike in painkiller use, as well as the causes for this epidemic.
Pair Chapter 11 of Brave New World with this text to focus on the theme of drug use as a means of escape in society. Ask students to compare soma use in the novel to opioid use. How are they similar? How are they different? Do students see any similarities between U.S. drug companies promoting painkiller prescriptions and the World State promoting soma use?
“Capitalism Will Eat Democracy - Unless We Speak Up” by Yanis Varoufakis
In this speech, Yanis Varoufakis discusses the state of democracy today and how it relates to the spheres of politics and economies.
Have students read this after they finish the novel to focus on Huxley’s reflections on consumerism. Ask students to discuss how Varoufakis’ perspective sheds light on the strategies of the World State to create stability through consumerism, paying particular attention to the Director’s speeches in Chapter 2 and Mustapha Mond’s reasoning in Chapters 16 and 17. Ask your students whether or not Brave New World is what Varoufakis is warning his audience against?” If your students love analyzing this speech, make sure to explore the text set of Influential Speeches also available on CommonLit’s digital literacy platform.
Students love dystopian literature! It is weird, exciting, and oftentimes eerily familiar to real-life. Invite them to explore the genre further with our Dystopian Literature text set or more dystopian novel book pairings like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451!
If you’re interested in learning more ways you can boost reading comprehension and assess student understanding with CommonLit’s digital literacy program, join one of our upcoming webinars!