Lori, may I ask a question about these programs: I see they are advertised as Christian. Do you have a sense at all of how lightly or heavily this element runs through? I'm trying to figure out whether I could use the student materials, if we draw from this. My main concern is not to alienate my agnostic child from Christianity; some of his books have been too heavy-handed and tended to close him off from the faith...
Yes, you are right, all the ones I listed are by Christian authors -- I should have mentioned that as part of the "thumbnail review" I provided -- sorry about forgetting that.
No personal experience with Excellence in Literature or Illuminating Literature (Sharon Watson). I have used Sharon Watson's Jump In writing program for gr. 5-8, and there are some moments of strongly Christian elements, which could be marked out, and I would *guess* that her lit. programs are similar -- but you'll need to hear from someone who has used them to know for sure.
I've used Lightning Lit. 7 and 8, and as far as I can remember, both were pretty non-religious in presentation. I don't know about the high school programs -- my assumption would be that they are similar. (However, obviously these 2 LL programs -- Christian British Authors and Christian American Authors -- are directly addressing Christian themes and ideas in the works. )
I've also used Windows to the World. That one is a bit more problematic to use secularly. From what I recall, the Christian parts are:
- the introduction, in which the author states her own Christian faith and that she comes from a Christian worldview
- a chapter on allusions/references, with an exercise on Biblical allusions -- you could skip it, or, I know several secular families who used it and were fine with this chapter, and were able to discuss how frequently Biblical allusions -- as well as allusions from Greek epics & myths and Shakespeare -- show up in our popular culture, movies, other literature, etc.
- and a chapter on worldview, which distinctly presents Christian worldview (the chapter is used as way of understanding the literary element of theme, and could be skipped)
For more on WttW check out these past threads:
"Windows to the World: how much religious content?"
"What lit analysis instruction do you recommend?" -- posts #6-14 address the Christian/secular aspects of WttW
Other secular Literature options:
- McDougal-Littell Language of Literature: gr. 6 student textbook & teacher edition / gr. 7 student & TE / gr. 8 student & TE
- Mosdos Press -- lit. anthology series, character-building themes without religious content: Pearl (gr. 6), Jade (gr. 7), Gold (gr. 8), Cathy Duffy review
- Oak Meadow -- English 7; English 8; Hero's Journey (gr. 8-10)
- Brave Writer -- Boomerang lit. guide set (gr. 7-9), or online Arrow (gr. 5-7) or Boomerang (gr. 7-9) book club classes
- Michael Clay Thompson -- literature trilogies
- K-12 -- Literary Analysis & Composition -- hard to tell; probably greatly depends on the student, but I'd guess this is for gr. 8-10
Secular guides to go with individual books:
- Glencoe Literature Library guides (free)
- Penguin teacher guides (free)
- Garlic Press Publishers Discover Literature challenger level guides (not free)
- Portals to Literature guides (not free)
ETA: also: do you find that these programs (or some of them, maybe) have a definite advantage over Well-Trained Mind style literature study for these same grades (with the inclusion of, say, Figuratively Speaking, or even without it)? Or maybe an advantage for particular types of students/families?
I can only speak for myself and explain what I did and why, and how it worked for us -- I haven't thought enough about "big picture" to come up with advantages/disadvantages for particular types of students/families.
I am very strong in Literature background and in naturally analyzing/thinking about/discussing literature, and I still found it very helpful with DSs to start off (toddlers through about grade 6) with tons of "just reading" -- me reading aloud, buddy reading, and having DSs solo reading -- and appreciating it, with very occasional questions or pointing things out or discussing *as it naturally came up*.
In high school we did a mostly WTM-style lit. study, but used some individual lit. guides to help provide background info on the work and ideas of questions to springboard us into discussion. We used guides more frequently earlier in high school, and far less by later high school, as DSs "had their feet under them" by that time, and we didn't need as much "idea sparking" to get us going.
To transition from the pre-school/elementary "just reading" into the high school "WTM-style" for literature, I found that a few lit. programs were helpful for us, to gently expose us to literary elements (Figuratively Speaking and Walch Toolbox: Prose and Poetry), and to move into beginning gentle analysis (LL7, LL8 and Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings). During 9th/10th grades, we spread out the units of the 1-semester Windows to the World program to help "fill in the gaps". After that, we were flying solo.
DSs were extremely laconic and it was initially like pulling teeth to get them to look deeper into the lit. and discuss, so that's why gentle intro literature programs were very useful for *us*, even though *I* did not need them for me. I did glean a lot of helpful info from some of those programs and guides, so that's why I tend to suggest them for parents, even those who are very comfortable with leading literature -- it just provides background and teaching info and ideas you might not have had, plus suggestions for resources, writing assignments, and for making other connections.
BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family! Warmest regards, Lori D.
Edited by Lori D., 19 January 2018 - 12:37 PM.