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American Literature Review by Lori Lyman

James Stobaugh
Master Books
(800) 999-3777
PO Box 726
Green Forest, AR 72638

American Literature is a curriculum that introduces students to highlights of American literature from the past and present. This consists of a book, and teacher’s guide, and is basically all-inclusive. The most important part, the student book, retails for $34.99, and the Teacher’s Guide is only $19.99. Authored by James Stobaugh, American Literature is designed for students to complete 1 chapter per week. Each chapter includes 5 daily lessons, with warm-up questions, guided readings, and concept-building exercises. For example, Lesson 3 of Chapter 2 is called In Love With God, and discusses Edward Taylor, a Puritan from New England who lived 1642-1729. Students will read a short biographical sketch of Taylor, and also a poem he wrote called Meditation 1. Stobaugh shares a small remembrance below this, and then the reader is assigned several tasks, including writing a letter to God, and completing the day’s Concept Builder, which  teaches the value of making generalizations. Some of the lessons are longer than others, and some contain longer readings than just a poem.

Stobaugh’s American Literature is designed for high school age students, and is a great way to introduce teenagers to classic literature. Students should be able to work through the book without much, if any, assistance from parents/teachers. It is designed for homeschoolers, which makes it easy to incorporate into your curriculum. This would especially be enjoyed by students who have an interest in writing, as they are assigned to complete an essay each week.

Overall, American Literature looks like an excellent curriculum. One thing I really like is how even the secular and contemporary works of literature that are mentioned in here, are done so from a Christian perspective. Stobaugh is quick to point out a writer’s naturalistic views, or maybe a sentence in the lesson’s reading that doesn’t quite fit a Christian viewpoint. Students are also asked to explain why a certain author or excerpt does or doesn’t show a Christian perspective, which I think is great for teaching teenagers to notice when something is being taught contrary to Bible. One thing I did not care for, however, is that due to the nature of the book, some of the readings and excerpts in it include swearing and using the Lord’s Name lightly. I didn’t see anything overly horrible, but a couple uses of he--, and at least one section where God’s Name is used several times in an irreverent manner. Students are also asked to watch a movie and compare it to a book that is read during the course of this curriculum, and some of these are movies I’m not familiar with. We are very careful about what the children watch, so I would suggest monitoring (or perhaps completely leaving out) this part of the book. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that in a situation like this, the parents can control what is and isn’t done in the curriculum. That being said, I do think American Literature is a great course for use in homeschool, and teenagers would greatly benefit from the lessons taught throughout the book.

Product Review by Lori Lyman, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, 2013