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Windows to the World vs. Read with the Best

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I had planned on doing WttW with my DD but I looked at Read with the Best and I like what I see.  She'd also really like doing American Literature and then British Lit.  I'm not sure what to do.  From what I understand of WttW, it's just a general lit analysis course that could go with any books/lit?  But Read with the Best is more specific as it has a list of books to read and analyze.  Am I wrong?  Just trying to see if anyone could compare the two.  


Thanks so much - my DD is really my first high schooler as my DS is pretty much logic stage due to learning issues.  So, I guess I'm new here to the high school board.  LOL


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While you would be able to take what you learn from Windows to the World (WttW) and apply to other works, I would not say that the program is a general literary analysis course, as it focuses heavily on 6 specific short stories (included in the program). In comparison, something like Teaching the Classics, How to Read a Book, and Reading Strands are designed as general "how to" resources for Socratic questioning, literary analysis, or deeper reading.


WttW is a 1-semester program which teaches annotation, detailed instruction in how to write a literary analysis essay using your annotations as supporting examples, and then covers in-depth 8-10 of the most common literary elements and how are at work in literature (specifically the 6 short stories in the program, but also in poems and excerpts that are also included in the program.


The student annotates and writes essays about the 6 short stories: "The Most Dangerous Game", "Gift of the Magi", "Fight With a Cannon", "The Necklace", "A Jury of Her Peers", "The Open Window"), and also analyzes poems and excerpts of other works through specific exercises for teaching and working with literary elements and aspects of literature, longer writing assignments, and additional teaching info and resources. See sample pages of the student book and teacher book here.


You can turn the 1-semester program into a 1-year program by adding the Jill Pike syllabus, which includes going through Teaching the Classics (a program that teaches you, the teacher, how to guide discussion and literary analysis through Socratic questioning), and includes guided material for 3 longer works (Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird, Hamlet).



I have no experience with Read with the Best (RwtB), but I did go and look over the samples from the website. RwtB is a very different type of program with a very different goal. Volume 1 looks like it would be best done as part of an integrated History/Literature or Great Books type of study. 12 weeks (1/3 of a school year) of vol. 1 focuses on speeches, essays, letters, journals, etc. These are more typically done as primary source or supplemental readings for History rather than as part of Literature, as these types of works cannot be read and analyzed in the same way as poetry and fiction (novels, novellas, short stories, plays).


Hard to tell from the samples, but most of the questions appear to be either comprehension-based and "what do you think" types of questions, rather than guided analysis or discussion. The literary analysis page is great with short definitions of literary terms, but there does not seem to be much work with those literary terms, or depth/teaching info in how to use those terms to analyze works of literature. Writing assignments in the samples are creative writing-based rather than traditional Literature class types of writing (reader response, literary analysis essay, research paper, etc.). The table of contents and sample pages did not indicate that there is any writing instruction / examples / grading rubric.


JMO based on the samples: RwtB has a solid selection of works for the reading list, and looks like a nice beginning "framework" for study of those works, but unless it goes deeper than what can be seen from the samples, this seems a bit "surface level" for high school Literature and literary analysis.


On the other hand, if your student is at an 8th/9th grade level of Literature, and has a high interest in American Lit., this could be a good first step into classic Literature. JMO: I would get vol. 1 and 2, and condense to just 1 year of American Lit by picking and choosing works of high interest, and skipping the History-based works in the first 1/3rd of vol. 1. (Or, do those as part of History studies.)


I'm a big fan of encouraging student interests, so since DD would like to do American Lit., one idea would be to go with RwtB and "beef up" the discussion, analysis, and writing with some individual lit. guides. I would also suggest doing something like Teaching the Classics, or other resource, alongside RwtB to guide you and DD into how to "go deeper" into Literature for your future high school years of Literature.


You might also check out some other American Lit. programs and compare depth and types of works covered; a few options:

Excellence in Literature: American Lit.

Bob Jones University Press: American Lit.

Lightning Lit & Comp:



BEST of luck in finding what is the best fit for your family! And welcome to high school planning! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

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Always appreciate your posts Lori D.  How would Lightning Lit compare with Read with the Best?  Would doing WttW be best done before these others?  Or could WttW be done in "units" thrown inbetween "units" of the others?  She's already an avid reader and loves to just dicuss books with me.  I let this be led by her though and sometimes she'll get deep and sometimes misses it completely.  Natural for a 15 year old I'm sure.  She'll be 10th grade this next year.  


Also, the Read with the Best is recommended to use alongside her Write with the Best Vol. 2 - so I'm guessing that's the writing instruction part.  Thanks for thinking with me.

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