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British Literature: A Study of British Writers Review by Jennifer Do Nascimento

Beth Hempton and Dana S. Wilson
Train up a Child Publishing, LLC

Literature is by far my preferred subject to teach. I say teach, but most of the time I am learning right alongside my children- especially in high school. I will have my second child officially entering high school in the fall.

Though she isn't technically in high school yet, she has been doing credited work for nearly three semesters. In every area of life, she and I are as different as night and day, save this one- we both love books. We love the smell of books, the feel of books, the sight of a book pile, and of course, we love to read books.

What started as a something we did side by side, but separately, has evolved into a wonderful bonding time of sharing and reading together.  Reading aloud together has led to study, and the study has led to meaningful conversations. Sometimes our studies are self-led, other times we use a literature guide, but lately, we've been using this British Literature Study from Train Up A Child Publishing.

The spiral bound, full-year course includes the study of two plays, multiple selections of poetry, several short stories and four novels. There is also an optional honors track that includes extra reading and assignments. Authors include Shakespeare, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Geoffrey Chaucer, Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, C.S. Lewis, Oscar Wilde, and Seamus Heaney.

Not only does this course include several of my favorite authors, it is also one of the most comprehensive, yet easy to use, literature programs I’ve ever seen. Reading through the 104-page book, before starting with my girl, was a joy. And let's face it, not all curriculum is fun to read through!

The one book is all you need for the course. It contains valuable information for the teacher about choosing assignments, honors credits, the writing process, essay styles, and essay presentation. There are also several appendices that include answer keys, grading rubrics, templates, vocabulary, plot maps, literary conflict and point of view notes.

There are many reasons I especially enjoy this course, among them are: (1) the introduction with information about the writing process and how to fully use the curriculum, (2) the clarity of the unit assignments which include reading levels, goals and objectives, literature summaries and comprehensive instructions for writing and evaluating each assignment, and (3) step-by-step instructions offering a wide variety of activities and writing assignments directly related to the selected literature (it’s multi-sensory, yay!).

I also appreciate the freeing nature of the lessons. Even though this is a structured course with objectives, study guides, vocabulary, discussion questions, history research, and (lots of) essay writing, it is completely customizable. You and your student decide which assignments to do and how long to spend reading each of the works. There are no built-in lesson plans or deadlines, although setting deadlines with your student are encouraged.  

I do want to mention that there is a great deal of essay writing in this program, as there should be in a high school course. With that said, I recommend (as did they) completing an essay program before doing this Literature Study. While there is some brief instruction and explanation of the essay process, it cannot take the place of a full essay course.

As I said before, we have really been enjoying this. We’re currently going through the Jane Eyre lesson. I’ve read Jane Eyre at least twice before as an adult, but going through time with the research and analytical aspect of things, gives me a whole new appreciation of the book.

I highly recommend this course to all students eighth grade and up. The teacher involvement level is a bit high, but it is well worth it. There is nothing like discovering (or rediscovering) great literary works with your children. This British Literature course is available on the Train Up A Child Publishing website for $43.97.

-Product review by Jeniffer Do Nascimento, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May, 2017