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Walking to Wisdom Literature Guide Series: The Screwtape Letters Review by Jeniffer Do Nascimento

Kelly Warner
Classical Academic Press
2151 Market Street
Camp Hill, PA 17011

The first time I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe many years ago, I immediately fell in love with the writings of C.S. Lewis. Traveling through Narnia became one of my favorite past times as a child. When I got older, I ventured into some of C.S. Lewis’ nonfiction writing and even his science fiction books. I loved them all.

As a homeschooling parent, instilling a love of great literature in my children has always been a priority. However, sometimes it can be hard to do when you don’t fully understand every aspect of the book yourself. This is why I am a huge fan of literature guides. Using the Walking to Wisdom Literature Guide for The Screwtape Letters, I have been able to introduce my daughter to the power of choice and active obedience to God despite influences both within and without.

The student guide ($14.95) and teacher guide ($19.95) are sold separately, and you definitely need both of them. The book itself is a must-have as well. The Screwtape Letters guide is one of eight different guides available in the Inklings Collection. Those who know Lewis’ history know that he, J.R.R Tolkien and others formed a small group of literary greats during their time at Oxford University. Oh, to be a fly on the wall during their meetings!!

Also currently included in the Inklings Collection Literature Guides are: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Last Battle, Till We Have Faces, The Man Born to be King, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

While the guides do follow a loose template, they are each specifically created to enhance the learning experience and enjoyment of their own books. All of the guides are recommended for grades seven and up.

Both the teacher and student guide begins with a letter to the student in which they learn what is to be expected. Along with curating a deeper understanding of the book and the author, the guide aims to teach: the ability to read carefully and absorb a book, how to pay attention to detail as well as great ideas over the whole book, to mark up a book, to take notes while reading, to ask and answer good questions, and finally synthesizing those questions together in a piece of writing or project.

Two schedules are offered in the teacher guide: (1) one that allows you to finish the book quickly, but takes significant time each day to devote to the heavier workload; (2) one that allows you more time to engage with the book as you read, this schedule allows for more flexibility in the time devoted daily on developing short answers, journal responses, or vocabulary.

As you can see, the schedules are quite different. The former allows for only eleven days while the latter gives you twenty-one. We are very relaxed in our homeschool and usually take longer than any provided teaching schedule allows anyway. We opted for the second schedule, although it has taken us quite a bit longer to work through the book and guide.

The elements in the literature guide include: Tracing the Great Ideas- choosing quotes related to the great ideas topics or themes so that you can trace them all the way through the book, Tell It Back- narration, Reading Questions- comprehension questions, Discussion Questions- critical thinking questions, Life Questions- reflection on how to relate what you’ve read to your own life, Write Your Own Discussion Questions- creating your own discussion questions, Chapter Summaries- written version of the previous narration (this is completely optional.)

All of the answers are found in the teacher guide. There is also a plethora of other helpful information, such as: tips for writing great essays, theme gathering ideas, chapter summaries, and enrichment activities.

This has been an absolutely wonderful experience with my daughter. We have greatly enjoyed working through The Screwtape Letters and the literature guide together. One of my favorite parts of the guide is where it teaches you how to mark up a book and really make it your own. This is something she will carry with her for the rest of her life. I look forward to using more of these guides. I really enjoy the way they are laid out and the flexibility allowed.

If you don’t plan to read the books along with your student, don’t let that deter you from this amazing resource. There are chapter summaries and answers to literally everything that your child might have questions about. Although, in my own opinion, there’s something wonderfully bonding about sharing great literature with your children- and no chapter summary or answer key can even come close.

-Product review by Jeniffer Do Nascimento, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2016