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World Literature: A Study of International Writers Review by Kathy Gelzer

Ruth Hempton and Dana S. Wilson
Train Up a Child Publishing
1342 Oak Mill Court
Mount Pleasant, SC 29466

This spiral-bound, plastic-covered book ($43.97) delves into the following works of literature: The Iliad, Psalms, The Book of Esther, Inferno, The Three Musketeers, Quo Vadis, The Poison Tree, Misery, The Necklace, The Death of Ivan Ilyich, and One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. It also includes a study of Haiku and Tanka poetry. The authors worked hard to include books that support a Christian worldview, although they may not be Christian based.

The curriculum is designed for the high school student as a college-prep course and it includes honors track options (additional reading and writing assignments). Definitely a rigorous course with challenging literature, each work studied is marked with a reading level ranging from less challenging to more challenging based on several named criteria. Options for tackling difficult material are given, such as listening to an audio book or completing the work as a read-aloud.

Written to the teacher, but including material for both teacher and student, this manual is almost daunting in its comprehensiveness. It is suggested that teachers read through each unit several times to be prepared to teach. “Pay particular attention to who is to read each section, as some sections are written to the teacher, some are to be read by both the teacher and the student, and some are written directly to the student.” Sections to be read by the student are marked with a lightbulb icon.

Each unit includes objectives which both the teacher and student should read and understand even though they are written to the teacher. There is also a summary of the work which gives contextual information. Homeschools with a classical bent will love this curriculum as it includes many reading, writing, and oral assignments.

The introduction states that the Essay Styles course ($43.97) “or a comparable course” is a prerequisite for World Literature. Also, it is recommended that students have completed at least one high school literature and one high school writing course.

There are several assignments in the manual from which to choose, and modification of given assignments is suggested. Both students and teachers may be part of the assignment choosing process. The writing assignments include four types: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and compare-contrast. It is recommended that the student complete a total of eight to ten assignments over the course, which would translate to one or two major assignments per unit.

In the list of possible assignments, each is coded as to when the assignments should be done: PR (Prior to Reading), AR (As you Read), and FR (Following Reading). I had to remind myself of these as I read through the book since I am used to thinking in terms of Before, During, and After. That said, it is helpful to have this organization system for the assignments outlined so one knows what should be done when during the course.

One of the unique assignments given for each unit a Study Guide, to be completed while the student reads the book. This entails noting background, characters, plot, major conflicts, key themes, lessons and applications, vocabulary, figurative language, and a review of the book.

The bulk of the book (almost two thirds) is made up of appendices: Study Guide Instructions and Template, Grading Rubrics for the essays and assignments, Answer Keys, Vocabulary for each unit with a suggestion to include vocabulary assignments, Point of View explanation, Plot Map graphic organizer, instructions for writing your own Psalm, Character Chart, Accordion Book resources, Teacher’s Evaluation Tips, and a tutorial on Grading Papers using Microsoft World’s Editing Tools.

This would be an excellent tool for studying world literature. I am sure the student would emerge with a rock-solid understanding of and appreciation for these books after using this guide!

-Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2017