Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Excellence in Literature - Introduction to Literature

As a homeschooler with a house full of high schoolers ( and 1 middle schooler) , who happens to be studying literature this year, I was incredibly thrilled to learn that we were going  to review Excellence in Literature 's Introduction to Literature by Janice Campbell.

EIL, is geared for students grades 8-12, and even has an honors option. With EIL, your child will learn to think and write analytically. Additionally, while the author gives instructions for the assignments, you will not find included lots of background information or lengthy introductions. However, you will find that the author has provided links and resources for the children to research and flesh out these pieces of information on their own.  She also let's the student know that it is their responsibility to read through Introduction to Literature. Why? The author is encouraging the students to become responsible for their  own education! This is an idea that I have been working at conveying to my children, so this is an idea I stand behind!

There are 9 units in Introduction to Literature. These units are designed to be done in about one month. However, you could easily adapt the units to fit the needs of your family. Advance the units at a quicker pace, or space the units to fit the needs of your household. With the  Honor's Option that is available, in order  to earn advanced placement or college credit for the class,you will also need to take an AP or CLEP exam.

As a mother of several children with dyslexia, I appreciated that she also encouraged that if you needed to, you may listen to the longer unabridged versions of the books. For many children with Special Needs, having to read these complete literary works would be too daunting. Allowing for the audio versions brings them within reach of many more students! The author also provides additional 'reading' in each section. This will help contextualize the works of literature that they are reading.  Also, this course assumes that the student has the necessary skills in grammar, spelling and mechanics. If your student struggles in these areas, there are some suggested resources available.

Author Janice Campbell uses this quote in the Introduction to the program;

Learning Philosophy

Learn (lûrn) v. 1 To acquire knowledge of or skill in by observation, study, instruction, etc. 2 To find out;ascertain: to learn the facts. 3 To memorize. 4 To acquire by or as by practice: to learn good habits.Webster Illustrated Contemporary Dictionary: Encyclopedic Edition 1971

With this in mind these are the units that are covered in Excellence in Literature.  ( From their website)

By the end of the course, students will:

  • Understand the process of writing, including the use of tools such as a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus.

  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.

  • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.

  • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.

  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
    Unit 1: Short Stories by-
    • Sarah Orne Jewett: A White Heron
    • Edgar Allen Poe: The Purloined Letter (This one is not scary, if you're concerned about that.)
    • Guy de Maupassant: The Diamond Necklace
    • O. Henry: The Ransom of Red Chief
    • Eudora Welty: A Worn Path
    • James Thurber: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

    Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
    Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

    Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
    Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

    Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
    Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë

    Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
    Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

    Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
    Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell
    Honors: 1984 by George Orwell

    Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
    Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

    Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
    Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Note: Books listed in the table of contents above are focus texts only. Context readings are assigned within each unit.

I feel as if we have just been able to get a taste of Introduction to Literature in the time that we have had it. However, I have liked what I have seen. I have really appreciated the way the the author gives the student just enough information, almost like bread crumbs, that keeps them searching down the path. Teaching them to keep their eyes open as the read to notice, perhaps, the style of the writer, or something about the time frame the book is written.

I look forward to completing Introduction to Literature with my children over this school year.  Introduction in Literature is available in Ebook format for $27, and in print form for $29 plus shipping and handling. You can visit their website for more information on Introduction in Literature, as well as, their full line of Literature products.

You can even follow Excellence In Literature on Facebook!

Please stop by the crew blog to see what my crew mates are saying about Excellence in Literature.

**note: I was given a free copy of the e-book Introduction to Literature, in exchange for my honest opinion. This post serves to meet that requirement. All views expressed herein are mine and mine alone and do not demonstrate and guarantees or promise of service. No other form of payment or compensation has been offered or accepted.