Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Schools : Let's read Mark Twain " The Adventures of Tom Sawyer " ! Resources


Mark Twain [1835-1910]


Samuel Langhorne Clemens  born on 30 November 1835,  known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer. 

He was lauded as the "greatest humorist the United States has produced, and William Faulkner called him "the father of American literature". 

Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain, 1936, 1st edition

Illustration: Norman Rockwell, 1936

Abbeville Press

His novels include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), the latter of which has often been called the "Great American Novel".

Twain transcended the apparent limitations of his origins to become a popular public figure and one of America’s best and most beloved writers. 

He died on April 21, 1910.

Google Doodle Mark Twain's 176th Birthday. 2011

  • Google Doodle:

"Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand." 

Mark Twain

Since Google never likes to take itself too seriously, I wanted to pick a scene from Twain's work that is both recognizable and funny. The fence-painting sequence from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer seemed a perfect fit. Not only does it incorporate a little bit of mischievous humor (painting fences is certainly thrilling!) it also plays cleverly with the white space of the homepage. Alluding to a comic-book format, I drew Tom and Ben working on the fence and, therefore, spreading our famous white space across the doodle."

Jennifer Hom, doodler

Mark Twain

photo portrait, 1871


American gifted raconteur, who acquired international fame for his travel narratives, especially The Innocents Abroad, a humorous travel narrative, published in 1869 and based on Twain’s letters to newspapers about his 1867 steamship voyage to Europe, Egypt, and the Holy Land.

The Innocents Abroad, or the New Pilgrims' Progress

Mark Twain, 1869

via Whitmore Rare Books


Roughing It semiautobiographical novel, published in 1872. This humorous travel book, based on Twain’s stagecoach journey through the American West and his adventures in the Pacific islands, is full of colourful caricatures of outlandish locals and detailed sketches of frontier life.

Roughing it

Mark Twain, 1872

And Life on the Mississippimemoir of the steamboat era on the Mississippi River before the American Civil War, published in 1883.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 
Mark Twain, 1936
illustrations Norman Rockwell

But his adventure stories of boyhood, especially The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) are well known in schools. Teachers and students can find it at the school library.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 
Mark Twain
illustrations Norman Rockwell, 1936
via Mark Twain House blog

“Most of the adventures recorded in this book really occurred; one or two were experiences of my own‚ the rest those of boys who were schoolmates of mine. Huck Finn is drawn from life; Tom Sawyer also‚ but not from an individual – he is a combination of the characteristics of three boys whom I knew‚ and therefore belongs to the composite order of architecture… Part of my plan has been to try to pleasantly remind adults of what they once were themselves‚ and of how they felt and thought and talked‚ and what queer enterprises they sometimes engaged in.”


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 
Mark Twain, 1876
illustrations Norman Rockwell
via AbeBooks

With books like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi, Twain explored many of the seemingly carefree idylls of the typical American boy’s life.

There are different editions illustrated by different artists. However, my choice goes to Norman Rockwell. One of my favorite artists and illustrators.

Norman Rockwell was born in 1894 (during Twain’s lifetime) and grew up in New York City (where Twain spent many of his later years), the two men never met.  

Rockwell’s first works as a professional illustrator were not published until 1912, two years after Twain’s death.  As such, they were of two different eras.  So why are Rockwell and Twain twinned in many ways in the public consciousness?

"These were classics. I read through the books, making notes of which scenes would make good pictures. Of course certain scenes—for instance, Tom whitewashing his Aunt Polly’s fence—were required."

Norman Rockwell

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 
Mark Twain
illustrations: Norman Rockwell, 1936
via Mark Twain House blog

  • Education:

I believe that students should read the old classic novel Adventures of Tom Sawyer. This book is cleverly written, if not a bit antiquated. Honestly this timeless classic is more readable for high school students looking for an adventure. And they love adventure.

His characters are as sincere as they are funny and playful. His work is iconic and a part of literary history. 

Some schools banned the book for the free use of the local vernacular in Twain writing. But this shows the ease with which the word was in the common vocabulary of the time (literary Realism) and its use makes no difference in the way people acted in this story.

"Not only is reading this book an educational experience for growth and human contact as a young person, but it also helps with language development and understanding of complex ideas." 

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 
Mark Twain
illustrations: Norman Rockwell, 1936
via Mark Twain House blog

The book is considered by many to be an American masterwork. Its reading in school should, in fact, find ways to read it. Literature often deals with social criticism. Let your students express their criticism. They will have the skills of crtical thinking.

Since this book is a classic it is widely accepted as a well written and wonderfully developed story line which can only add to the knowledge base of any high school student. 

If an assigned reading, it would be interesting to note whether the Tom Sawyer Huck Finn sequels get taken out of the school library more often.

"Teach it, and use the change in attitudes over time as another component of the education. If children don’t learn where we came from, they have no sense of where we’re going."

Randy Welter

With so many books we are required to read, this should by far be the one of the most assigned.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer 
Mark Twain
illustrations: Norman Rockwell,1936
via Mark Twain House blog

  • Resources: 

- Mark Twain House &Museum & Educational Resources



- Online exhibition

Mark Twain: A Skeptic's Progress


- e-Book online: 

e-book The Innocents Abroad, or the New Pilgrims' Progress

Project Guttenberg : https://www.gutenberg.org/files/3176/3176-h/3176-h.htm

"A person who won't read has no advantage over one who can't read."

Mark Twain



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