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Everything You Need to Ace English Language Arts Review by Sheila Quach

Workman Publishing
Workman Publishing Company
225 Varick Street
New York, NY 10014-4381

As a homeschool mom, I learn right along with my kids most of the time.  That’s one of the beauties of homeschooling, until you come across something that you don’t even understand.  Usually I find that true in the math department occasionally.  But, as my kiddos get older even in other subjects I question myself at times.  Which is why the Big Fat Notebook Series has ended up on my nightstand more often then I’m willing to admit.  In this series of complete middle school study guides, you find multiple subjects to tackle any question you have.  Recently the one I have been going back and forth to is the Everything You Need to Ace English Language Arts.  First, I have to say the book is just cute, has a very durable cover and small enough to toss into even the smallest backpack.

This little treasure is filled with the borrowed notes written by the smartest kid in class and of course checked by an award-winning teacher.  That said each page is highlighted, plastered with fun stickers, drawings and important tid-bits taped in all wrapped up in about 10 different fonts.  It’s fun, creative and totally looks like my notebooks from back in the day.  With having a kiddo with sensory issues, I was a bit concerned he would be overwhelmed with the bright colors, pictures and creativity used throughout the whole book.  I’m surprised to report that it didn’t overwhelm him at all.  In fact, the organization and flow of the book was appealing to him and held his interest.

After a brief intro about how to use the book, the contents give you the layout of the five units.  You have grammar, language, reading fiction, reading nonfiction and then writing.  I like that the pages are color-codded on the edges for fast referencing.   I also liked the setup of the units and the way the notes are taken.  The explanation is very easy to comprehend and there are a ton of examples.  I remember as a kid those examples given in the textbook were golden.  I’m a person that needs to visually see things done, my kids are all the same way.  We even found it helpful to have consistent colors used in the highlighting and organization of the book.  The check your knowledge section is located after each chapter within a unit.  You have 10 questions from the material you just went through to test your comprehension and the answers are right behind the test to check yourself quickly.

You can use this as a reference or read through it like a book.  For us we decided to read through it during morning time.  In the morning I grab this little gem from our basket and we read a chapter.  We take turns reading the examples and then with a whiteboard if need be we write and figure them out together.  Sometimes it takes a day or two to get through a chapter because we do like to take little side trips to research.  There is always a word or person that we want to dig a little deeper and learn more about before we take the chapter test.

Overall, I think that this book has helped take the pressure away from him.  He said he doesn’t have that feeling like he needs to know it all.  Because it’s all right there in note form.  This would make a great addition to any middle school aged child’s library whether they homeschool or not.  The diagrams, definitions and key concepts are everything that they need to master English and feel confident while doing it.

-Product review by Sheila Quach, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2018