Everyday Education is a company dedicated to helping homeschooling parents teach their children from high school to beyond. Recently members of the TOS Homeschool Crew were given a copy of Excellence in Literature: Introduction to Literature to try out and review. I love the subtitle of this curriculum...Reading and Writing Through the Classics.
Teaching a high school student to not only appreciate good literature but to also analyze it can be tough. However, it's a necessary skill to have and one that will serve them well later. Needless to say, the thought of teaching my son how to do this was a tad bit intimidating to me.
However, Excellence in Literature: Introduction to Literature by Janice Campbell makes it all super easy to teach.
It took me a bit to read through the book and figure out how it all works. One thing I really appreciated was how it was written to the student. The parent really just needs to lead and evaluate - to be a "writing mentor."
The overview that Mrs. Campbell writes to the student is wonderful. I appreciated how she explained that this was going to a tough course but that they were old enough now to handle that. They would not be "spoon-fed" easy to find information, but they would be challenged to learn.
As I mentioned above, I was a bit intimidated by this program. My oldest son is in his first year of high school. I didn't feel he was quite ready for this type of program no matter what his age said. However, we dived in anyway.
My oldest son loves to read. Actually, all my boys love to read as do my husband and I. Our small home is filled to bursting with books. Any one of us can be found with at least one book we are reading if not more. That doesn't mean we understand all the time what we are reading - especially my boys. My oldest son reads at an adult level. However, I love how Mrs. Campbell explains the need for not only understanding what you are reading, but also to analyze it...."Reading without understanding is like walking onto a softball field and batting the ball, without knowledge of what to do next. You may hit the ball out of the park, but if you don't run the bases and complete the play, you've missed the whole point of the activity." Exactly!
The curriculum is divided in to nine units. The first unit uses short stories. This is to ease the student into the style of learning that may be new to them. From that point on, each subsequent unit covers one classical literature book. For example, in the Introduction to Literature course we used books like Jane Eyre (one of my all time favorites) and Treasure Island are covered.
Each unit is divided in this way:
- A focus text (aka the book being analyzed)
- The focus of that unit - the elements being analyzed
- A short introduction to the focus text and the unit
- Context Resources - these help "set the stage" so to speak. This section can include things such as articles written by the author, biographies about the author, other writings such as poetry by the author, audio links to things such as the actual book or other items to help learn more about the author and/or book, and even videos to help with background or perhaps even a movie of the book. There may also be links to visual arts (photos, etc), music, an outline of the story, quotes by the author, historical context of either the time period of the book or the author's life, and a literary context to help explain the genre being read.
- An assignment schedule broken into weeks. Most units are designed to last four weeks.
Each unit also includes an honors track. This is a different book, typically by the same author, that offers a bit more challenge.
Excellence in Literature: Introduction to Literature (English I) is designed to be used in grades 8-12. It is sold either as a print book for $29 plus $4.95 for priority shipping or as an instant download (which is how I received it) for $27. There are five volumes of Excellence in Literature. Volume II covers Literature and Composition, Volume III covers American Literature, Volume IV covers British Literature, and Volume V covers World Literature. You can purchase all five volumes in print ($139 + shipping) or as an eBook ($135).
So how did my son do? I have to say that not only is he learning how to write essays with this program, but he's learning how to understand what he's reading. I also learned something very important. I shouldn't underestimate my son. We are taking the program slow and I am feeding it to him in bit-sizes, but he's getting it. I was thrilled with the paper he completed today. It was not something I would have been able to teach him on my own, but something he has done very well considering we have not done any essay writing at all. We will definitely be continuing this program and it's one I highly recommend.
Be sure to head over to the TOS Homeschool Crew blog to read more reviews on Excellence in Literature.
Disclaimer: I was not paid for this review. All opinions shared are my own. TOS Crew Members are given the product free of charge in exchange for our unbiased opinion of the product.