Secondary This Valentine’s Day, Teach Reading Lessons Your Whole Class Will Love Most Ardently
As they say in Romeo and Juliet, “My bounty is as boundless as the sea.” Check out our bounty of love stories on CommonLit.
With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, bring the love to your classroom with these reading lessons about love that will get students’ hearts beating. Bolster student’s reading comprehension with short stories about love, Shakespearean sonnets, and love poems. In addition to Valentine’s day poems, dive into the psychology of love with informational texts written by experts that are ready to be folded into your Valentine’s Day lesson plan.
“First Love” by John Clare (7th Grade)
In this poem, the speaker depicts the overwhelming feeling of falling in love at first sight, for the very first time. After describing their infatuation and inability to move or verbally express themselves around their new crush, the speaker notes that this experience has changed their life forever.
Pair this poem with the short video, “Do You Ever Get Over Your First Love?” from the Related Media Tab. How does the video support or disprove the point Clare makes when he writes “heart has left its dwelling-place / And can return no more” (Lines 23-24)?
“One Perfect Rose” by Dorothy Parker (7th Grade)
The speaker in this poem about love receives a single, perfect rose from a man. The flower says that it contains the man’s heart. The speaker finds the whole debacle a tad cliche.
This poem is great for teaching how meter and repetition can contribute to meaning. Discuss with the class how the change from iambic pentameter to iambic dimeter on the repeating line “One perfect rose” at the end of each quatrain changes the tone of the poem.
“A Valentine” by Priscilla Jane Thompson (9th Grade)
In this poem, the speaker sends the object of their affection a love note, hoping to find that their beloved feels the same way.
Spark students’ creativity this Valentine’s Day by asking your students to use the first discussion prompt: “Write your own valentine poem using the structure and rhyme scheme of "A Valentine.” Then, have students discuss what they found fun and/or challenging about the project.
“Loving Decision: 40 Years of Legal Interracial Unions” by NPR.org (9th Grade)
Looking for a way to incorporate Valentine’s Day themes into a history class? This NPR story recounts the history of interracial marriages in the USA. Interracial marriage has been legal for over 50 years but students may not realize how recently this was not the case.The Loving couple had to fight for their right to get married and their real life love story changed the course of history.
After reading this text, ask students to make text-to-self connections by using the first discussion question to prompt a discussion about love and identity. “What makes you who you are? How did the Lovings define themselves and their relationship?”
“Should We Scoff at the Idea of Love at First Sight” by James Kuzner (10th Grade)
In this informational text, James Kuzner discusses humans' brain chemistry and stories of love and lust to explore the idea of love at first sight. For some people, true love can develop within just a short period of time.
This lesson about the neuroscience of love is available as a reading lesson or a Target Lesson. As a Target Lesson, students will read this passage about love as they practice finding the meaning of unknown words.
“Sonnet 130: My Mistress' Eyes Are Nothing Like the Sun” by William Shakespeare (10th Grade)
In this poem, a speaker names how his mistress’ appearance does not meet the unrealistic comparisons that most poets use to describe their lovers.
Teach this poem alongside two more of Shakespeare’s love poems, Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 5, for a holistic lesson on Shakespearan sonnets. Students will become familiar with the structure of a sonnet, iambic pentameter, and the themes and tone that have allowed Shakespeare to maintain his relevance 500 years later.
“Why Do We Hate Love” Robert Firestone (11th Grade)
In this informational text, psychologist Dr. Robert Firestone outlines six reasons why love can cause intense negative reactions in people. Help students navigate the complexities of love with this text as they clamber through adolescence. Use this lesson to show students that, although love can be beautiful, some people find it to be painful and hard to accept.
Pair this lesson with Jack London’s “Love Letter” from the Related Media tab. Have students discuss the less idyllic aspects of romantic entanglement. Allow this cross textual analysis to prompt a discussion about the ways in which romantic love can be unhealthy at times. How can we identify what is healthy love?
For more lessons about love, dive into this comprehensive lesson plan for Romeo and Juliet.
Our digital library also includes a thematic unit on love which asks the question “What is love, and how does it change us?”
Looking for more ways to explore CommonLit? Check out our upcoming webinars!