Monday, October 31, 2011

TOS Review: Excellence in Literature

My 12-year-old son is, by age, in 7th grade, but he is doing mainly 8th-grade work this year, and he is especially ahead in the Language Arts side of things.  He is an avid reader who has been reading at high school level for some time, and he enjoys the classics, especially those by such authors as Jules Verne.  For this reason, I was realizing that I need to start looking at college-prep studies and stepping up our writing pursuits.  Just in time, I was blessed to be able to review Janice Campbell's  Excellence in Literature:: English 1: Introduction to Literature with the Honors option, from Everyday Education.

The Introduction to Literature is set up like a study guide, providing assignments to use with the classics listed in the course.  If your budget is tight, you could get these books from the library.  The author recommends, however, that you purchase the books, so that you may highlight sections, write in the margins, and have them for future reference.  Many of the books can be found second-hand very cheaply, and if you have multiple children who will be using the course, then of course you will be able to use them again.  My husband regularly peruses thrift stores, yard sales, and used book stores for the titles we need for homeschool, and we have built up quite a library very economically.  Introduction to Literature is, however, much more than your average study guide with a few discussion questions to ask with each book.  Janice Campbell's course covers how to read analytically and for comprehension, how to study and make notes on the literature, and how to write an effective paper communicating your own ideas about what you have studied.  Much of the work can be done individually by the student, at the student's own pace, with a parent or teacher reviewing the finished papers at the end of each unit and offering praise and advice for improvement.  The course teaches excellent personal study habits, research tips, and in-depth reading and writing skills in preparation for college.  It is also completely customizable for each family: while a specific order of books and timeline is suggested for the year-long course, the books may be done in any order, by themselves or in conjunction with another Language Arts or History course.

We are doing the course in the suggested order, and we have barely scratched the surface in Unit 1: Short Stories.  We cannot wait to get to Unit 2: Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne.  Jules Verne is one of my son's favorite authors, and he has already read that book.  Just take a look at the fun titles we have in store for the rest of the year:

Unit 1: Short Stories by- 
• Sarah Orne Jewett: A White Heron
• Edgar Allen Poe: The Purloined Letter (This one is not scary, if you're concerned about that.)
• Guy de Maupassant: The Diamond Necklace
• O. Henry: The Ransom of Red Chief
• Eudora Welty: A Worn Path
• James Thurber: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne 
Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain
Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë 
Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë
Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw 
Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot
Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Honors: 1984 by George Orwell
Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare 
Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan
The titles listed are just the focus texts.  More context readings are assigned in each unit, as well as optional honors texts which can be used for further high school and college credit.  The English I college-prep course is recommended for students in Grades 8-12.  It can be purchased from Everyday Education at  The print book is $29 plus $4.95 S&H.  If you prefer to download the e-book and print your own pages for a 3-ring binder, you may download it for $27.  Everyday Education also has many more resources for homeschooling through high school.

To see what other TOS reviewers have to say about Excellence in Literature, click here.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of Excellence in Literature:: English 1: Introduction to Literature with the Honors option, from Everyday Education, for the purpose of a fair review.  No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own.

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