Skip Navigation

Young Adult Readers' Series: A Study of Sherlock

Arrow image that is used as button to enroll in courses. Enroll in this Course

Open to: Grades 7-9

Eligibility: CTY-level or Advanced CTY-level math or verbal score required

Prerequisites: While students are not required to be verbal qualifiers, they must be proficient readers and writers of English to gain value from the course.

Course Format: Session Based. See calendar for session dates and application deadlines.

Course Length: 12 weeks (Early Fall, Late Fall, Winter, Spring, Early Summer, Mid-Summer)

Course Code: YASH

Course Description

Description

The character of Sherlock Holmes has fascinated people of all ages and nationalities ever since he was first introduced by Arthur Conan Doyle in 1887. The consulting detective is more alive today than ever as he continues to inspire novels, movies, television, and other media. In this course students will engage in critical reading, thinking, and writing by studying the iconic detective through the lenses of two novels and two dozen short stories of the classic canon written by Conan Doyle, plus three Sherlock Holmes pastiches by modern authors Dale Furutani, Lyndsay Faye, and Laurie King. In addition to the always popular Dr. John Watson, students will meet intriguing new literary characters such as Mary Russell, Holmes’ 15-year-old apprentice in The Beekeeper’s Apprentice and the wise and imperturbable Dr. Watanabe in The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan. Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Vol 1. by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan by Dale Furutani. The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye. The Beekeeper's Apprentice: or, On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King.

About the Young Adult Readers' Series for Verbal and/or Math Qualifiers in Grades 7-9:

In this digital age, the availability of the internet has made memorization less important than critical thinking. Students must learn to carefully investigate the credibility of claims and judge the validity of opposing arguments. Students must also become adept at making their own persuasive arguments.

In CTY Online Programs Young Adult Readers' Series, students enhance their critical reading, thinking, and writing skills through high interest, thought-provoking books, analytical discussions, and creative writing assignments. Course assignments were developed to meet or surpass most of the Common Core College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading. Students are given opportunities to create multimedia content using web 2.0 tools. Students receive individualized written feedback from their instructor and engage in online written discussions with classmates from around the world. Writing assignments include narrative stories; expository and compare/contrast essays; and persuasive writing. Classes are not live; work is posted in virtual classrooms at the students’ convenience as long as deadlines are met.

Intended for teens reading at a high school level or above, students:

  • Read four or more high-interest, thematically connected, age-appropriate books and short stories
  • Receive individualized written feedback from their instructor about each unit's work
  • Participate in online written discussions with CTY Online Programs classmates from around the world, making inferences, determining motivations, evaluating arguments, and providing textual evidence to support their opinions
  • Post writing assignments such as narrative stories, character studies or biographical essays, newspaper and journal accounts, persuasive writing, and essays that encourage students to take on different points of view, summarize details, compare books with movies, and discuss central ideas
  • Use a variety of web 2.0 tools
  • Learn sophisticated vocabulary words and literary devices with the help of online games

Parents Ask...

  • Since the course is asynchronous, students do not have to meet together in the classroom at any one particular time.
  • Work is posted in the virtual classrooms at the student’s convenience as long as each unit's deadlines are met.
  • Students typically read and share written responses every other day.
  • It does not matter whether a student has already read one or all of the books before the course begins because the emphasis on citing the text requires careful re-reading.
  • Students must already be proficient readers and writers of Standard Written English. Instructors discuss grammar only when it affects meaning.
  • These critical reading courses are designed to be ungraded, enrichment courses; instead of a grade, instructors provide specific feedback about each student's work at the end of each unit and a detailed final evaluation at the end of the session. Parents or guardians may request a final grade if needed for school credit.

About Appropriateness

Parents should be aware that books selected for this course are intended for young adults, not elementary school children and, like life itself, contain elements of suspense, danger, violence, sadness, humor, romance, adventure, and heroism. All books invite thought-provoking and controversial discussions. Parents are encouraged to look inside the books and read reviews before deciding that a young adult critical reading course is appropriate for their student. If you would like to discuss the appropriateness of a critical reading course for your child, please email ctyonline@jhu.edu.

Parents are urged to "look inside" the books and scroll down to "read reviews" to judge whether the content is appropriate for their student.

Look inside and read reviews of Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Vol 1. by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Look inside and read reviews of
The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan by Dale Furutani
Look inside and read reviews of The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye
Look inside and read reviews of The Beekeeper's Apprentice: or, On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King

This course does not have any synchronous class meetings, but students may schedule one-on-one virtual meetings directly with the instructor to answer questions or concerns.

Videos from YouTube or other web providers may be present in the course. Video recommendations or links provided at end of videos are generated by the video host provider and are not CTY recommendations.

Materials Needed

  • Sherlock Holmes: The Complete Novels and Stories, Vol. 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Bantam Dell, 1986, 2003), ISBN 13: 9780553328257.
  • The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan by Dale Furutani (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; First Ed. 2011). ISBN-13: 978-1468027143.
  • The Whole Art of Detection: Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye (Mysterious Press; Reprint Ed. 2018). ISBN-13: 978-0802127600.  
  • The Beekeeper's Apprentice: or, On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King (Picador; Anniversary Ed. 2014). ISBN-13: 978-1250055705

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

Unit 1: The Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Vol 1, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Read selected works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum

Unit 2: The Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Vol 1, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Continue reading selected works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum

Unit 3: The Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Vol 1, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Continue reading selected works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum
Complete Open-book Test covering the classic canon of Sherlock Holmes stories written by Conan Doyle

Unit 4: The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan by Dale Furutani

Begin reading The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum

Unit 5: The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan by Dale Furutani

Finish reading and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum
Complete Open-book Test covering The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan

Unit 6: The Whole Art of Detection: The Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye

Begin reading The Whole Art of Detection and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum

Unit 7: The Whole Art of Detection: The Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye

Continue reading The Whole Art of Detection and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum

Unit 8: The Whole Art of Detection: The Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes by Lyndsay Faye

Finish reading The Whole Art of Detection and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum
Complete Open-book Test covering The Whole Art of Detection: The Lost Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes

Unit 9: The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King

Begin reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum

Unit 10: The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King

Continue reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum

Unit 11: The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King

Finish reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice and watch short video excerpts
Vote your Opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the Written assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum
Contribute three (or more) thoughtful posts to the Discussion Forum
Contribute your own question to the Student Discussion Forum
Complete Open-book Test covering The Beekeeper's Apprentice: Segregation of the Queen and other works read for this course 

Unit 12: Summary Assignments covering all four books

Vote your opinion in the Poll
Post ONE of the writing assignments (your choice) to the Writing Forum.

Note: You are provided with a list of vocabulary words from each book that you can use to help better understand the book and increase your knowledge of vocabulary words in general.

OPTIONAL–Not required–Fun and Challenges:

  • Learn Literary Terms by playing the online Literary Terms games and puzzles.
  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading glossary.
  • Participate in the group writing Wiki activity: Our Adventures with Sherlock Holmes.

Time Required

Students should expect approximately 4-6 hours for each of the 12 units in this 12-week course.​

Note: Classes are not live. Students do not have to meet in the classroom at the same time. Work is posted in the virtual classrooms at the student's convenience as long as deadlines are met.

About Summer Vacations

All Young Adult Readers’ courses have 12 units to be completed during a 12-week session, and there are weekly due dates. Students who have scheduled summer vacations should arrange with their instructor to work ahead and/or catch up promptly with missing work so that they are working on the same unit as their online classmates as much as possible. Experience has shown that these courses are most rewarding (and fun) when students are working on the same unit. Students must notify the instructor at the beginning of the session about any planned vacation dates and should meet the scheduled due dates when they are not on vacation. Students who are three or more units behind in their work will not receive course completion documents.

Sample Assignment

Sample Assignment

To give you an idea of the type of assignments involved, the following is the first of twelve units:

Instructions for Unit One:

1. Read over the CTY Online Programs Student Code of Honor and complete the Honor Code Quiz in order to see the first lesson.   

2. Read the "An Introductory Guide to the Stories of Sherlock Holmes" and complete the activities.

Vote your opinion in the Poll:
Have you read any other dystopian novels that you would recommend? If so, please add them to the Recommended Reading glossary, found in the homepage.

3. Read the following works from the Doyle canon:  

  • First meeting between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson described in the first two chapters of A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. Note: It would be useful to watch the short videos mentioned below after reading the first two chapters of A Study in Scarlet.
  • The remaining chapters of A Study in Scarlet
  • “The Adventures of the Speckled Band” by Arthur Conan Doyle

4. Watch the following short videos: 

  • First meeting of Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson in BBC's Sherlock (Modern era)
  • First meeting of Sherlock Holmes to Dr. Watson in BBC's Sherlock (Victorian era)
  • Optional Viewing: Excerpt of Holmes' conversations in a cab with Watson explaining how he reached his conclusions (Modern era) 

5. Answer the Poll Questions: 

  • Poll #1: Which initial meeting between Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes do you think provides the most information about the two characters' personalities?
  • Poll #2: Which initial meeting between Dr. Watson and Sherlock Holmes do you think is the most entertaining?

6. Post one of the following writing assignments. Write a creative and correctly formatted and punctuated dialogue:

Write an interesting dialogue. Part of the attraction of a Sherlock Holmes story is that both Holmes and Watson are interesting conversationalists. Readers always enjoy the discussions between Holmes and Dr. Watson, especially the ones that usually takes place in their flat at the beginning of most adventures. Now it is your turn. 

1. Dialogue between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Write a 250-500+ word dialogue between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in which they discuss an upcoming client or case (real or made up), something about their past together, or a past case. You can have them discuss anything you want, but be sure that the dialogue is properly punctuated per the Guide to Punctuating Dialogue.

or

2. Dialogue between you and a character from the canon. Write a 250-500+ word dialogue between yourself and one of the characters in the Conan Doyle canon. You can get to know each other or talk about an event that happened in a story from Conan Doyle's canon. You can discuss anything you want, but be sure that the dialogue is properly punctuated per the Guide to Punctuating Dialogue.

7. Answer three or more of the following discussion questions:

a) Speckled Band. "The Adventures of the Speckled Band" is often considered the most famous of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Did you find it exciting? Why or why not? What red herrings did Conan Doyle employ? Did you solve the mystery before Sherlock Holmes explained the clues to Dr. Watson? If so, which clues do you think "gave it away"?

b) The introductions. In which ways did initial meeting of Dr. Watson to Sherlock Holmes seem the same in the two BBC versions as the account provided by Doyle in the beginning of A Study in Scarlet? In which ways did the three accounts differ in terms of setting, tone, topics of conversation, etc.? [Be sure to separately discuss the BBC's two versions of Sherlock: a) 21st Century Modern era, and b) 19th Century Victorian era.] 

c) Unreliable narrator. An unreliable narrator is a character whose words cannot be trusted for any of a number of reasons. In A Study of Scarlet, Holmes claims that "it's just as well for two fellows to know the worst of one another before they begin to live together" (9). But does Holmes really tell Watson the truth about his faults or bad habits? What has he omitted? Do you think he has not mentioned a habit that Dr. Watson might find objectionable because he forgot about it, or because he thinks it isn't important? Explain.

d) Arrogant or accurate?  Early in their relationship, Dr. Watson thinks that Holmes is arrogant, egotistical, and "as sensitive to flattery on the score of his art as any girl could be of her beauty" (Scarlet, 33). Later on, however, the good doctor clearly becomes a fan. Forget your prior impressions of Sherlock Holmes from prior reading, movies, TV, etc. Imagine yourself as one of the first persons to read A Study in Scarlet by an unknown new author named Arthur Conan Doyle. At what point in the short novel do you find yourself enjoying Sherlock Holmes' company, comments, and observations? Did you find yourself liking him as a person early in the book or is he an acquired taste? Describe the events or conversations in the book when you found yourself first appreciating the eccentric but intriguing Sherlock Holmes.

e) Fake news? In the beginning of Chapter 6 of Part 1, we are told that London newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, the Standard, and the Daily News all have completely different observations and explanations for the so-called "Brixton Mystery." Explain the differences between the three 19th Century newspapers and their predictions. How did the three newspapers manage to come up with such different conclusions based on the same facts? Do you think that modern 21st Century newspapers and other media have such conflicting points of view? Explain.

f) Make an inference. In the middle of Chapter 6 of Part 1, "Sherlock Holmes gave a sigh of relief and relaxed into a smile" (48). Why is he so pleased with Gregson's arrest of Arthur Charpentier? What does his attitude say about Sherlock's personality?

g) About The Country of the Saints. Chapters 1-5 of Part 2 [The Country of the Saints] are controversial. Some say Part 2 is boring; others say it is an unfair portrayal of the Mormon religion. What is your reaction? Does its explanation of the motivations of Jefferson Hope justify its length? Do you think that Conan Doyle unfairly caricatures the Mormon religion, or does it seem like a fair exercise of an author's literary license? At least one school in the United States has banned A Study in Scarlet from its reading list after a parent complained that the story painted an inaccurate and negative picture of Mormons in the United States. Do you think that removing this book from a school's curriculum for its portrayal of the Mormon religion is deserved? Explain why or why not.

h) Poison Pills. Do you think that Drebber's death was any less a murder because there was a 50/50 chance he would live and Jefferson Hope would be poisoned instead? Explain the morality or justification (if any) for Jefferson Hope's decision to give Drebber a choice of pills instead of just killing him directly. What about Stangerson's death? Does Hope's explanation of self-defense (if true) make Stangerson's death less a murder? Explain why or why not. Do you think a 19th Century jury would have any sympathy for Jefferson Hope had his case come to trial?

i) Dr. Watson, the author. At the end of A Study in Scarlet, Dr. Watson explains why he plans to write about the events surrounding Drebber's and Stangerson's death for publication. Prior to this, is there any indication that Dr. Watson is considering a career as a writer in addition to his career as a physician? Is there any indication that Dr. Watson might continue to write about further adventures of consulting detective Sherlock Holmes? Explain your response. 

8. Create your own discussion question and post in the Student-Initiated Question Forum.

OPTIONAL activities are also provided just for fun:

  • Share your favorite stories and authors with other students in the Recommended Reading glossary
  • After posting your own question in the Student-Initiated Question Forum (which is a mandatory requirement for the first 11 units), respond to another student's question if it interests you
  • Play Literary Terms Games

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.