Growing up, literature was my escape.
It was my enjoyment, my time waster, and much of my early writing in middle school was prompted by things that I read. English was my best subject, with literature study being my favorite part (because of the reading, not because I enjoyed dissecting it.) I still love reading, and the way it makes the mind go places it can’t go without help.
Literature curriculum—I mean GOOD literature curriculum—which feeds the mind, spurs the interest, and encourages thoughtful responses—has been hard to find. Until now.
Apologia recently published their first high school English title, American Literature.
I received this hefty curriculum while attending the 2:1 Conference in October. Apologia was one of the main conference sponsors, and they blessed us with much. This curriculum is probably the biggest prize for me, as it contains everything I have been looking for in a literature program for my students.
Disclosure: While I am writing a review, I was freely given the curriculum with no obligation to write a review for it. I am not being paid to write it. The opinions stated here are my own. I am an Apologia affiliate and any sales purchased through my links go right back into supporting the costs of this site. Thank you!
Apologia American Literature will:
1. Teach step by step how to write a literary analysis on major works.
Despite my best efforts, I am a terrible writing teacher. I need a program that will take my kid step by step through the writing process. THEN I can come alongside and help facilitate the process, but I need that guidance. American Literature ensures that my son knows what to do next and how to do it.
2. Approach literature from a Biblical perspective.
It challenges students to read critically, and respond thoughtfully. You will have many great conversation opportunities with your kids, exploring the deeper things of God, their minds, and their worldview as they delve into the literature and study materials within these volumes.
3. Earn your student 2 English Credits: 1 Literature, and 1 Writing
Meaty yet accessible, this curriculum gives your student (and you!) plenty to work through without being overwhelming or tearing good literature into unrecognizable pieces. If you would prefer to not give a second credit for writing, you can scale down the assignments to be less writing-intensive. There is so much depth to the assignments that it still promises a well-earned English credit.
4. Cover fictional as well as non-fiction literature and primary source materials.
These include letters and biographies of the founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and great literature from authors such as Edgar Allen Poe, Longfellow, William Faulkner, and Harper Lee.
The student set includes the hefty 843-page textbook as well as a huge 650-page consumable Student Notebook, which contains all of the questions from the textbook as well as the tests.
This notebook is my saving grace, because my son, who is on the Autism Spectrum, needs things to be as self-contained as possible.
The ability to write his answers in the Student Notebook gives him freedom to just do the work and not be concerned with keeping track of which question he is on in the textbook. Wondering how to adjust this curriculum for an average student or one with special needs? <– See how we’re doing it!
Going between a textbook and a regular lined notebook can be confusing for him at times. He loses his place, or misses part of the question, causing him to give a partial answer. This Student Notebook eliminates that barrier since he can see the question and write his answer on the same page.
I was happy to see Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird among the books covered in this program.
I’ve studied it twice myself (at two high schools in two different states) and I’ve read it a couple of times since then as well. I love it. I always planned to cover Mockingbird with my kids not only because it is one of my favorites, but also since this book was pivotal to my own education on what prejudice is, where it came from, and what overcoming it looks like. Through the antics of Jem and Scout, and the drive of Atticus, we watch them grow and we see inside a situation that most of us would never chance to see in our lifetimes. Literature does this for us. It opens worlds we cannot open ourselves.Literature does this for us. It opens worlds we cannot open ourselves.Click To Tweet
In the introduction to Chapter 17: Atticus’s Triumph, we delve into Atticus’s moral character.
The way the author approached all of the characters in her story is examined, and the fact that she did not portray Atticus as a Christian man is not vilified, but justified and explained quite well. This is just one small paragraph of the three-page introduction.
There are thoughtful questions for every chapter of the story.
Set to a two-week schedule, the text gives a total of 100 questions for students to answer in writing or for you to use for discussion. Personally, I prefer to choose certain questions for my son to answer on paper, and use others as talking points to help him process through the story. The chapters covering the court sessions are particularly tedious to read, and therefore the questions pertaining to those are better used for oral discussion.
The Chapter 17 Test covering To Kill a Mockingbird contains three parts:
- Part I. Matching answer section worth 40 points (2 pts. per answer). The student identifies each character listed, by a given scenario or characteristics.
- Part II. Paragraph Answer, worth 12 points. The student references a certain character’s personality and how it relates to the story, with examples encouraged.
- Part III. Essay Question, worth 48 points. The student chooses three characters from the story and illustrates the way they carry out something that Atticus’s moral character held to. There is instruction on the essay should be formatted, how to begin, and what types of information should be included in the paragraphs.
Your own students will probably be different than mine, and you need to cover this material in a way which best works for your own kids. Knowing my son, there is no way we will be able to get through this chapter in only two weeks, but rather will probably choose to take four weeks to ensure understanding and reinforce the writing assignment process. Either way, he will come away with a deeper understanding of the truths Ms. Lee illustrated in her story.The goal of literature study is to produce students who value good literature.Click To Tweet
The goal of literature study is to produce students who value good literature.
A good story, or an interesting source document can be brought to life or completely destroyed by the way we approach the study of it. This curriculum takes on this endeavor with gusto and does not leave the works chewed into unrecognizable bits. If your goal is to encourage your kids to enjoy reading good literature and enriching their minds with ideas—new and old—you will not be disappointed by Apologia’s American Literature curriculum.
Purchasing the Full Set, you will receive both the Student textbook and Student Notebook. You would only need a second Student Notebook if you are going to use this program with more than one student, or a younger sibling later on.
This post is listed on the Happy Housewife’s Homeschool Curriculum Review Round-up.