My students complain that I always choose very old books to read. I understand it is hard to think in a world in which noone watched TV, use mobile phones or computers, people travelled in carriages pulled by horses and social institutions were much different than they are now. Well.., I think the finest pieces of Literature were written at that time. Also, if we think of it, we usually choose to read contemporary novels and even if would be interested in reading as many books as possible, we would not read Great Expectations, unless one of our teachers obliges us to do so.
As a child, Dickens himself was a poor boy. He had to struggle very hard in life and make his own living since he was very young. This is so, one of the main topics all through his literature. The book tells the story of a very young boy who was born in a poor and uneducated country family. After some lucky events, his life changes until he becomes a city gentleman. In the end, he discovers he had not been so lucky after all, and he might have been very happy with his family and friends if noone had ever spoken to him about class, money or education differences.
The book conveys very important educational values which I also thought important: hard work is over idle life, family and friendship are more important than money and love is definetely the most relevant topic in the book.
I just read there are at least 250 theatrical or TV versions of the book. I found an old black and white film version of it on youtube which I think is very helpful if you want to imagine what was the time and place background like.
The book we chose for our Bachillerato students is a graded reading by OUP publishers in Spain. In the one hand, I suppose the will not have to stop their reading that often to use a dictionary or would not find too many old fashioned words and, in the other hand, the book repeats several structures and words, so that the students can learn them at their own pace.
I found a couple interesting vocabulary topics in the book: Some misleading verbs like realize and notice and the difference between the verbs Lay, lie, lie. You can also have some extra preactise in these two links: link 1 and link 2.
I hope that all my students have a great time reading the book with me. We will be listening to the the CD version enclosed chapter by chapter and they will be delivering a project and probably taking an exam. I will comment about the results when we have finished.