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Educational Research Analysts
Standard Review Criteria for Literature textbooks

When judging literary selections for students, 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 reading selections fairly.

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

Reading selection content should present:

Base coverage on contemporaries' relative esteem of various authors’ works, as well as on modern editors’ and critics’ opinions (e.g., 9 pages on Olaudah Equiano but nothing from The Federalist, or 8 pages of Emily Dickinson with half a page of Longfellow, anti-intellectually panders to special-interest pressure groups).

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

Support "the free enterprise system … patriotism and … the basic democratic values of our state and national heritage"
(Texas Education Code Section 28.002[h]).

Anthologize proportional representative selections from pre-1865 figures, sources, eras, and genres, for perspective and balance in American literary history with a course content mid-point 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  
Texas rules for this course detail student skills to develop, but give no guidance on content of reading selections. From our 58 years of experience reviewing such texts, this checklist powers fair rankings. No unaccountable authors/editors.