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If you create your own literature program, do you analyze every book?


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I recently listened to SWB's audio about literary analysis. She mentioned that they do not study every book. She specifically mentioned that after her son read The Once and Future King (which she assigned), she decided not to analyze it with him because he loved the book so much. Do you do this? Do you assign books, knowing that you may not choose to analyze them?

 

If I was going to make my own literature program (which I am considering), I would need to prepare and possibly purchase study guides to get us through the analysis of the book. To then decide to not do an in-depth study of a book would be difficult for me.

 

Thoughts?

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Absolutely not!

Many of the books DD studies are not going to be analyzed in detail - that would kill the fun of reading. She will do some assignment on most works, to get composition practice, but that does not have to be literary analysis (for Herodotus she decided to write a book review, for the Odyssey she wrote a persuasive essay about an issue).

We will analyze enough so that she becomes familiar with literary terms and devices and gets a feeling for "how it is done". Mostly, however, I want her to read, be familiar with great works of literature, think about and discuss issues - but not pick apart.

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No. When we read LotR, we barely even commented on it, for fear of bothering each other. The boys have read a number of things on their own that we didn't discuss or write about or some combination. Sometimes I know beforehand that we aren't going to discuss something, sometimes we decide at the time, and sometimes we just don't get to it in a timely fashion and decide to move on (Christmas will interfere or something). We are especially likely to read Shakespeare without analysis, and poetry (what little non-epic poetry we have done). My boys would rebel if I asked them to analyze The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, for example. Plenty of appreciation happens without discussion. We use TWEM as a study guide for everything from The Odyssey to scifi, so I don't have to worry about wasting money. I never thought of it before, but I guess it was a pretty efficient way to buy study guides. I find TWEM questions work better than other ones I've tried. It was very hard to get anything other than a yes or no out of my boys with other sets. I also have found that my boys get used to the questions and start noticing things on their own after a year or two of using them. They now give me nice verbal analyses of movies they've seen with their friends and books they've read for fun. I don't point out that they are doing that, but I suspect they have noticed. We aren't a literature or history oriented family (most of us are more engineering-minded), so I am in awe of how well TWEM worked for us.

-Nan

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Absolutely not. Sometimes you can analyze too much ( Like my first teaching job and the department spent a whole 9 weeks on Julius Caesar:001_huh:) We just recently watched Our Town with Paul Newman and we talked a little bit about it, but we didn't analyze it in detail. Although they thought the staging was strange at first, they LOVED it by the end. I was bawling my head off at the end. IT didn't affect me that way in high school... we really don't appreciate the time! Anyway, we analyze some but it is pretty informal most of the time. If we don't analyze it formally, then I just ask them what they liked about the book. My boys come and talk to me about the books as they read them anyway..like right now my oldest is finding Lord of the Flies very disturbing but very interesting.

 

Christine

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Okay, so let me see if I understand. Let's say you assign 10 books for the year. You might discuss various literary elements in 2 of the books. For 3 books you may assign a paper of some sort (not necessarily analysis). 3 will be analyzed in depth. 2 will just be read for enjoyment, with nothing else done. Is that basically it?

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No, not really. Maybe for some people it works like that. For us, it works more like I pick 8 or so great books I want us to get through and we begin reading. Then we discover that it took us 3 months to read The Iliad because nobody wanted to hurry through. We do TWEM questions. The boys come up with something they think it would be interesting to write about or research or a project they want to try. We read the next one and do TWEM questions and they do something. Then one of them discovers that Dracula exists and asks to read it. Hmmm. So I say yes (how can you say no?) and find something for the younger one to read meanwhile. And everyone reads. Then I remember that there might be literary terms nobody knows about and check the list and define a few for them and we keep that in mind as we read the next book. Or somebody notices one and I either do or do not know what it is called and we say, "Oh, that is interesting." And hopefully they remember the term later. I try to remember to remind them of it. And meanwhile, we have regrouped and read another work and done TWEM questions and a paper on it. By then we are tired, so I decide we are going to read a Shakespeare in parts with my mother. And then we read another work. And then it turns out we only have a few days until Easter vacation so we read a bit of poetry and talk about it a little (but nothing formal other than me pointing out a few more literary terms here and there). Then we do another work and it takes forever because they keep wanting to look things up or try them and besides we are trying to finish the math book and skimp. And then we discover that it is the end of the school year, so we just read the resst on our own over the summer. Or perhaps there is osmething in there that everyone discovered they loved and we don't want to discuss it. It goes more like that in my family.

-Nan

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No, not really. Maybe for some people it works like that. For us, it works more like I pick 8 or so great books I want us to get through and we begin reading. Then we discover that it took us 3 months to read The Iliad because nobody wanted to hurry through. We do TWEM questions. The boys come up with something they think it would be interesting to write about or research or a project they want to try. We read the next one and do TWEM questions and they do something. Then one of them discovers that Dracula exists and asks to read it. Hmmm. So I say yes (how can you say no?) and find something for the younger one to read meanwhile. And everyone reads. Then I remember that there might be literary terms nobody knows about and check the list and define a few for them and we keep that in mind as we read the next book. Or somebody notices one and I either do or do not know what it is called and we say, "Oh, that is interesting." And hopefully they remember the term later. I try to remember to remind them of it. And meanwhile, we have regrouped and read another work and done TWEM questions and a paper on it. By then we are tired, so I decide we are going to read a Shakespeare in parts with my mother. And then we read another work. And then it turns out we only have a few days until Easter vacation so we read a bit of poetry and talk about it a little (but nothing formal other than me pointing out a few more literary terms here and there). Then we do another work and it takes forever because they keep wanting to look things up or try them and besides we are trying to finish the math book and skimp. And then we discover that it is the end of the school year, so we just read the resst on our own over the summer. Or perhaps there is osmething in there that everyone discovered they loved and we don't want to discuss it. It goes more like that in my family.

-Nan

 

:001_smile: Wow! Thank you for this. It really makes literature seem less scary and quite do-able.

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No, not really. Maybe for some people it works like that. For us, it works more like I pick 8 or so great books I want us to get through and we begin reading. Then we discover that it took us 3 months to read The Iliad because nobody wanted to hurry through. We do TWEM questions. The boys come up with something they think it would be interesting to write about or research or a project they want to try. We read the next one and do TWEM questions and they do something. Then one of them discovers that Dracula exists and asks to read it. Hmmm. So I say yes (how can you say no?) and find something for the younger one to read meanwhile. And everyone reads. Then I remember that there might be literary terms nobody knows about and check the list and define a few for them and we keep that in mind as we read the next book. Or somebody notices one and I either do or do not know what it is called and we say, "Oh, that is interesting." And hopefully they remember the term later. I try to remember to remind them of it. And meanwhile, we have regrouped and read another work and done TWEM questions and a paper on it. By then we are tired, so I decide we are going to read a Shakespeare in parts with my mother. And then we read another work. And then it turns out we only have a few days until Easter vacation so we read a bit of poetry and talk about it a little (but nothing formal other than me pointing out a few more literary terms here and there). Then we do another work and it takes forever because they keep wanting to look things up or try them and besides we are trying to finish the math book and skimp. And then we discover that it is the end of the school year, so we just read the resst on our own over the summer. Or perhaps there is osmething in there that everyone discovered they loved and we don't want to discuss it. It goes more like that in my family.

-Nan

 

 

Nan, I love this. Thank you for sharing!

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Okay, so let me see if I understand. Let's say you assign 10 books for the year. You might discuss various literary elements in 2 of the books. For 3 books you may assign a paper of some sort (not necessarily analysis). 3 will be analyzed in depth. 2 will just be read for enjoyment, with nothing else done. Is that basically it?

 

Yes and no, not really - it's hard to explain because I don't plan out these things beforehand, since I don't know what DD will be excited about.

Let me tell you how it played out this semester. Plan was: Ancient Greek lit: Homeric epics, Herodotus, Thukydides, tragedy, Plato.

We started with the Iliad. Loved it. Got the lectures from the Teaching Company, listened to all 12 of them, loved them. DD wrote one paper on the use of epithets, a topic she found interesting. Read Herodotus. Talked a lot about it, DD was excited to tell me details (I did not read it myself). She wrote a short paper, a book review. Then read the Odyssey, listened to 12 lectures and had great discussions. She picked one of the suggested questions in the lecture notes and wrote an essay. Started Thukydides and did not like his style at all; we abandoned him.

On to Greek tragedy. Started by reading Antigone, decided to read the whole trilogy. Listened to 12 selected lectures only, the ones about the origin of tragedies, and the ones about tragedies she actually read and decided to not do all 24 and not read all the plays discussed. Watched a video of Antigone and switched off after twenty minutes because it was horrible. Decided we had enough of tragedy, though she may still write a paper.... we probably won't get to Plato since she wants to spend some time reading and learning about Sappho (which she discovered at a book sale) and read some background literature, historic fiction etc.

In January we will take a complete break from Ancients to prepare for a live performance of Shakespeare, so need to read Midsummernight's dream and may read some more Shakespeare. Will watch live performance. If she is excited, we may do some more in-depth studies, if not, move on to Roman literature.

 

I see my "syllabus" as a suggestion. I usually pick too many things and we won't get to everything. DD decides on which of my selections she wants to spend more time, and what writing assignments she would like to do. I prefer her to be excited about the great literature she reads instead of forcing her to adhere to a plan. If she wants to take detours, that's fine.

(I can afford to do this since she is so interested and reads so much - I could imagine a reluctant student who you might have to force to read great books, but my DD just gobbles them up. )

 

Btw, I have this urge to cover topics "completely" but realize the futility: even if we read every single surviving Greek tragedy, we would not have explored them as deep as we could - there are people who do nothing else for their whole live. So for me it is difficult to accept that all we can do is make choices and only get a small selection. So, depending on topic, we may just read read read a lot - or we may pick something and spend a lot of time on a single work. But we won't know till we get to it.

Does that make sense?

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Thanks to both of you. This is very, very helpful. I see what you mean now. This is great stuff. :)

 

No, not really. Maybe for some people it works like that. For us, it works more like I pick 8 or so great books I want us to get through and we begin reading. Then we discover that it took us 3 months to read The Iliad because nobody wanted to hurry through. We do TWEM questions. The boys come up with something they think it would be interesting to write about or research or a project they want to try. We read the next one and do TWEM questions and they do something. Then one of them discovers that Dracula exists and asks to read it. Hmmm. So I say yes (how can you say no?) and find something for the younger one to read meanwhile. And everyone reads. Then I remember that there might be literary terms nobody knows about and check the list and define a few for them and we keep that in mind as we read the next book. Or somebody notices one and I either do or do not know what it is called and we say, "Oh, that is interesting." And hopefully they remember the term later. I try to remember to remind them of it. And meanwhile, we have regrouped and read another work and done TWEM questions and a paper on it. By then we are tired, so I decide we are going to read a Shakespeare in parts with my mother. And then we read another work. And then it turns out we only have a few days until Easter vacation so we read a bit of poetry and talk about it a little (but nothing formal other than me pointing out a few more literary terms here and there). Then we do another work and it takes forever because they keep wanting to look things up or try them and besides we are trying to finish the math book and skimp. And then we discover that it is the end of the school year, so we just read the resst on our own over the summer. Or perhaps there is osmething in there that everyone discovered they loved and we don't want to discuss it. It goes more like that in my family.

-Nan

 

Yes and no, not really - it's hard to explain because I don't plan out these things beforehand, since I don't know what DD will be excited about.

Let me tell you how it played out this semester. Plan was: Ancient Greek lit: Homeric epics, Herodotus, Thukydides, tragedy, Plato.

We started with the Iliad. Loved it. Got the lectures from the Teaching Company, listened to all 12 of them, loved them. DD wrote one paper on the use of epithets, a topic she found interesting. Read Herodotus. Talked a lot about it, DD was excited to tell me details (I did not read it myself). She wrote a short paper, a book review. Then read the Odyssey, listened to 12 lectures and had great discussions. She picked one of the suggested questions in the lecture notes and wrote an essay. Started Thukydides and did not like his style at all; we abandoned him.

On to Greek tragedy. Started by reading Antigone, decided to read the whole trilogy. Listened to 12 selected lectures only, the ones about the origin of tragedies, and the ones about tragedies she actually read and decided to not do all 24 and not read all the plays discussed. Watched a video of Antigone and switched off after twenty minutes because it was horrible. Decided we had enough of tragedy, though she may still write a paper.... we probably won't get to Plato since she wants to spend some time reading and learning about Sappho (which she discovered at a book sale) and read some background literature, historic fiction etc.

In January we will take a complete break from Ancients to prepare for a live performance of Shakespeare, so need to read Midsummernight's dream and may read some more Shakespeare. Will watch live performance. If she is excited, we may do some more in-depth studies, if not, move on to Roman literature.

 

I see my "syllabus" as a suggestion. I usually pick too many things and we won't get to everything. DD decides on which of my selections she wants to spend more time, and what writing assignments she would like to do. I prefer her to be excited about the great literature she reads instead of forcing her to adhere to a plan. If she wants to take detours, that's fine.

(I can afford to do this since she is so interested and reads so much - I could imagine a reluctant student who you might have to force to read great books, but my DD just gobbles them up. )

 

Btw, I have this urge to cover topics "completely" but realize the futility: even if we read every single surviving Greek tragedy, we would not have explored them as deep as we could - there are people who do nothing else for their whole live. So for me it is difficult to accept that all we can do is make choices and only get a small selection. So, depending on topic, we may just read read read a lot - or we may pick something and spend a lot of time on a single work. But we won't know till we get to it.

Does that make sense?

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You know, the best part is that despite having done great books in such a seemingly casual way, they have had an absolutely huge impact on my non-literature-oriented boys. They will tell you that themselves. They go on to discuss them with any other adult they discover has read them, like their CC drawing, speech, and composition profs and their gymnastics coach and people they meet traveling. The works we read have given them a universal foundation that they apply to everything else in their lives. In retrospect, I am very glad I didn't try to do great books in a more formal way. If we had been more school-ish about it, I don't think the boys would have adopted them as their own.

 

-Nan

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No. When we read LotR, we barely even commented on it, for fear of bothering each other. The boys have read a number of things on their own that we didn't discuss or write about or some combination. Sometimes I know beforehand that we aren't going to discuss something, sometimes we decide at the time, and sometimes we just don't get to it in a timely fashion and decide to move on (Christmas will interfere or something). We are especially likely to read Shakespeare without analysis, and poetry (what little non-epic poetry we have done). My boys would rebel if I asked them to analyze The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, for example. Plenty of appreciation happens without discussion. We use TWEM as a study guide for everything from The Odyssey to scifi, so I don't have to worry about wasting money. I never thought of it before, but I guess it was a pretty efficient way to buy study guides. I find TWEM questions work better than other ones I've tried. It was very hard to get anything other than a yes or no out of my boys with other sets. I also have found that my boys get used to the questions and start noticing things on their own after a year or two of using them. They now give me nice verbal analyses of movies they've seen with their friends and books they've read for fun. I don't point out that they are doing that, but I suspect they have noticed. We aren't a literature or history oriented family (most of us are more engineering-minded), so I am in awe of how well TWEM worked for us.

-Nan

 

Yes and no, not really - it's hard to explain because I don't plan out these things beforehand, since I don't know what DD will be excited about.

Let me tell you how it played out this semester. Plan was: Ancient Greek lit: Homeric epics, Herodotus, Thukydides, tragedy, Plato.

We started with the Iliad. Loved it. Got the lectures from the Teaching Company, listened to all 12 of them, loved them. DD wrote one paper on the use of epithets, a topic she found interesting. Read Herodotus. Talked a lot about it, DD was excited to tell me details (I did not read it myself). She wrote a short paper, a book review. Then read the Odyssey, listened to 12 lectures and had great discussions. She picked one of the suggested questions in the lecture notes and wrote an essay. Started Thukydides and did not like his style at all; we abandoned him.

On to Greek tragedy. Started by reading Antigone, decided to read the whole trilogy. Listened to 12 selected lectures only, the ones about the origin of tragedies, and the ones about tragedies she actually read and decided to not do all 24 and not read all the plays discussed. Watched a video of Antigone and switched off after twenty minutes because it was horrible. Decided we had enough of tragedy, though she may still write a paper.... we probably won't get to Plato since she wants to spend some time reading and learning about Sappho (which she discovered at a book sale) and read some background literature, historic fiction etc.

In January we will take a complete break from Ancients to prepare for a live performance of Shakespeare, so need to read Midsummernight's dream and may read some more Shakespeare. Will watch live performance. If she is excited, we may do some more in-depth studies, if not, move on to Roman literature.

 

I see my "syllabus" as a suggestion. I usually pick too many things and we won't get to everything. DD decides on which of my selections she wants to spend more time, and what writing assignments she would like to do. I prefer her to be excited about the great literature she reads instead of forcing her to adhere to a plan. If she wants to take detours, that's fine.

(I can afford to do this since she is so interested and reads so much - I could imagine a reluctant student who you might have to force to read great books, but my DD just gobbles them up. )

 

Btw, I have this urge to cover topics "completely" but realize the futility: even if we read every single surviving Greek tragedy, we would not have explored them as deep as we could - there are people who do nothing else for their whole live. So for me it is difficult to accept that all we can do is make choices and only get a small selection. So, depending on topic, we may just read read read a lot - or we may pick something and spend a lot of time on a single work. But we won't know till we get to it.

Does that make sense?

 

 

I love both of these posts! Thanks ladies for giving me something to think about, may make some much needed changes after the holidays.

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Nearly all of the works I assign are somehow "dealt with". It doesn't always take the same form or the same intensity, but I do find it important to look back and reflect on the things we have read.

 

A lot of the works are studied "jointly": it means that the student reads 2-3 works and then we pull a less comprehensive, but a more specific analysis of a particular aspect of those works. I do this a lot with my older daughter, who really reads a LOT, on her own request, so I believe a lot of time would be wasted dealing with each work specifically. Sometimes, for writing, I also have her deal with a particular literary aspect of a few works - more of a comparison-type of paper - so that way more readings get "done".

 

The major, important, "canonical" readings are done one by one and discussed, though; we also discuss those that the girls specifically want to discuss.

Other times, I just have them write about something, or keep a reading journal.

A lot of times they come with their own suggestions of what and how they'd like to do. That way, we do "deal" with each of the assigned works somehow, but we certainly don't analyze each of them in depth.

 

Rarely - though it still happens - I allow them to give up on some work and not finish it; in other cases, we just opt not to deal with that particular work once read, due to the lack of time/interest/etc. (of course, this won't work for very important works, only for more of a "by the way" readings).

(Sometimes it leads to funny scenes, last year my eldest was so irritated by Ibsen that I allowed her to get away with two paragraphs entitled, "Why I believe A Doll's House is worthless and pretentious". :lol:)

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LOL - Mine have written a few "this author is wrong" papers.

 

My daughter does that. And, many times I agree with her. I do allow them to not finish something. They have read so much that I'm not afraid not reading a few books will ruin them. Normally I can tell because Ds will do *everything* to not read. I will ask if he likes the book, he'll squirm and admit he hates it. When I let him off the hook he's positively joyous. :001_smile:

 

We do it a bit differently-we have a list of books and I do read all of them with the kids-sometimes we talk about them, sometimes we compare them-but it always comes up in conversation somehow-which is why I make sure to read them.

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No don't analyze every book! If you want a sense for how many to do in one school year check some resources. I have no idea how many you had planned to do but I also wonder if it is way more ambitious than schools do. Look around at what schools do for each grade (3,4,5,6 books a school year plus short stories and poetry and how many plays?). Or look at some online classes for homeschoolers for ideas. HTH

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