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Educational Research Analysts
Standard Review Criteria for Literature textbooks

When judging textbooks, well thought-out objections put you on the attack and foes on the defensive. Our standard review criteria give you this edge. They also help rank textbooks fairly.

Below are our standard review criteria for high school American Literature textbooks. This is not a comprehensive course outline, but a list of what textbooks often censor on major topics.

Story content should present:

Allocate space based on how much contemporaries esteemed authors’ works, as well as on modern editors’ and critics’ opinions (e.g., 9 pages from Olaudah Equiano but nothing from The Federalist, or 8 pages of Emily Dickinson with half a page of Longfellow, is intellectually indefensible political correctness).

Present contrasting primary-source views on major literary movements and individuals (e.g., Hawthorne on transcendentalism; Emerson and J. R. Lowell on Thoreau).

Anthologize substantive selections from these pre-Civil War figures/sources, so that the mid-point of the course is no later than 1865:

John Smith Thomas Jefferson William Bradford The Federalist
John Winthrop Philip Freneau Edward Taylor Washington Irving
Cotton Mather James Fenimore Cooper Samuel Sewall William Cullen Bryant
Mary Rowlandson Henry W. Longfellow William Byrd John Greenleaf Whittier
Jonathan Edwards Oliver Wendell Holmes Benjamin Franklin James Russell Lowell
Thomas Paine