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Writing & Rhetoric Book 2: Narrative I Review by Jennifer Land

Paul Kortepeter
Classical Academic Press
(866) 730-0711
2151 Market Street
Camp Hill, PA, 17011

Writing & Rhetoric Book 2: Narrative I is the second in a series of 12 books meant to classically train students to become excellent writers and speakers through studying and practicing by example.  The program includes a paperback student worktext, a paperback teacher’s edition, and audio files of the myths, parables, and other tales presented within the text. This book is meant to be completed in one semester. It is intended for students in 3rd or 4th grade. The price, as a set, is $37.95.

The teacher’s edition in the program includes all of the student’s edition, as well as answer keys, explanations, and notes. There are also examples of writing assignment responses so that teachers are able to see what an excellent writing sample might look like.

There are 10 lessons in the Writing & Rhetoric Book 2: Narrative I Program. The recommendation is that teachers spend three or four days per week on the lessons, and alternate each week of this text with one week of a course in grammar. The lessons cover a wide, yet focused, range of topics. These include parables, main ideas, Greek myths, dialogue, description, how to combine dialogue and description, conflict, story middles, and more.

As with the first book in this series, each lesson follows the same basic format. Lessons are divided into six sections. Students can work through their lessons knowing what to expect as far as assignments and lesson structure.

First, students will read the story that goes with their lesson. They are encouraged to re-read it to themselves or to read it with a partner as well.

Next, students work on the “Tell It Back” section, which is focused on narration. They are asked to retell the story or even play-act it. There are also written narration exercises to complete.

After that, they move to the “Talk About It” section while the story is still fresh in their minds. This helps them to think back on the story and critically analyze parts of it. The text invites students to relate what they just read to their own lives or the world they currently live in as well.

“Go Deeper” is the next section students work on in their lessons. These are exercises to help students work on comprehension through studying the vocabulary used, the character traits, and the main ideas. These are done using multiple choice and short answer questions.

Next, students move on to “Writing Time.” They complete copywork, dictation, sentence play, copiousness exercises, work on amplification, study dialogue, work on descriptions, and even work on point of view. Students get to work on parts of the story they just read, but they also get to create their own stories.

Finally, students work on and present from the “Speak It” section. This allows students the chance to play act, recite, and share their work. The book includes elocution instructions to assist students in presenting well. They even recommend recording students as they present so that they can see how they did and adjust accordingly for the next time.

This program is very thorough. I love that it guides students through all of the reading and exercises within the student book. Students will be able to complete the assignments and understand the expectations just by reading the text within their lessons. No other resources are needed, which makes this an open and go and convenient curriculum.

The workload is pretty intense. If students completed the first book in the series first, they will be prepared for it, though, so I do not find it unreasonable to expect students at the 3rd or 4th grade level to be able to complete these assignments.

I like the stories that are presented in this book. My children did not have a lot of experience with Greek mythology, so they enjoyed when I read “Athena and Arachne” to them. My 3rd grade son learned a lot by completing the assignments, such as ordering the events, discussing what happened in the beginning, middle, and end, and by coming up with a moral for the story. He was able to determine what the word “mortal” meant and was able to identify the dynamic character in the story. These were all great accomplishments in a relatively short amount of time!

Homeschool families wishing to produce excellent writers should definitely give this book series a try. This classical curriculum is a neat way to help students critique and emulate great literature. It is an open and go curriculum that students can read and complete on their own, but the stories are so engaging that you will want to join in on the fun!

—Product review by Jennifer Land, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2016