Engaging Young Minds Literature Guides
Just when I think I've seen 'em all, I have to think again... Written specifically for homechoolers (and with an attempt to use literature engaging to boys, in particular) these incorporate Biblical references where appropriate. Each guide begins with a synopsis of both author and book. A list of proposed projects, which are to be completed along with the study, follows. In some of the guides these are keyed to particular chapters and helpful reminders of them are included as you work through the study guide. Books are discussed in chapter clusters rather than by chapter. A fairly standard format is followed after reading each assigned section of the book. First are Reading Response questions which contain a nice mix of comprehension, analysis, and thought-provoking questions and exercises. Lines are included for students to record their responses. A wide variety of literature skills is covered in each book and throughout the series. Hank the Cowdog (Finally, someone has written a study guide about our old friend, Hank!), for example, provides numerous examples of and opportunities to discuss hyperbole. These literature skills discussions always include a clear explanation of the literary term, often marked with a special icon, example(s) of its use in the book under discussion, and exercises for the student to practice the skill. Special "In Thy Light" activities/questions may appear in either the Reading Response or Literature Skill sections. These include scriptural quotations or ask students to refer to their Bibles to consider issues raised in the novel in the light of God's Word. Vocabulary exercises follow these sections. A refreshing variety of approaches are used in these - including crossword puzzles, multiple choice, word structure, etc. Many study guides place vocabulary study in the pre-reading section of the guide. I prefer it after reading, however, as it is likely that the student will either discover the meaning of unknown words in context or will (hopefully) consult a dictionary as he reads. Composition is incorporated through open-ended questions or proposed projects that provide opportunity for more in-depth written responses. Many of the guides have a proposed project or culminating activity to end the study of each chapter block. For instance, the Cheaper By the Dozen guide also incorporates a Journal Assignment at the end of each section so students can construct their own memoir as they read through the book. An answer key at the end of each book provides the answers to all questions and activities. Despite the "youth" of this company, these guides are very well-organized, professionally done, and provide insightful, engaging study of the literature while increasing student understanding of and skill with literary forms and concepts. I hope this company continues to expand their line of outstanding guides.