Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

Using this literature course's relaxed, yet in-depth approach (appealing to reluctant readers while providing solid college-prep), spend a year reading and analyzing good and insightful literature. The characters you'll come to know in this course are each facing a crisis. Dive deeply into five novels and a selection of short stories and other works. Examining ideas in a Novel Notebook (free online) and through potential small group discussions, students will develop tools to become more discerning readers-and thereby become more powerful writers themselves. Using the Teacher's Guide, Student Text, and Quiz/Answer Key (optional), study the "nuts and bolts" of literary analysis along with key themes. For example, in Frankenstein, consider what being 'human' means and in Silas Marner, explore what betrayal feels like. Though a Christian perspective course (with the Bible as the ultimate truth), the literature selections themselves don't necessarily represent that position. However, in your home, co-op or classroom, they can be evaluated through the lens of the Christian worldview.

The Student Text (nonreproducible, 292 pgs, pb) focuses on characters: their motivations, conflicts, and point of view. Students will read author biographies, pertinent background information, and character elements in the literary context. They'll complete exercises either in the book or in the free downloadable "Novel Notebook" and complete additional activities of their choosing.

Some works are included in the student text, either in full or as Web links. Since the text references specific page numbers of novels, the recommended book editions are listed below. Available online on are password-protected quizzes with grading (or purchase the Quiz/Answer Key), supplementary material and the free downloadable "Novel Notebook" to record student work. In addition to the five novels, students will also read a biography/autobiography of your own choosing, and the short stories "A Jury of Her Peers", "A White Heron", "The Garden of Forking Paths", "Haircut", "The Lady, or the Tiger?", "The Souls of Black Folk: Of the Passing of the First-Born" and "A Child's Christmas in Wales."

The Quiz/Answer Key provides a duplicate paper form of the online quizzes and is reproducible for family use only (53 pgs, pb). The indispensable Teacher's Guide (nonreproducible, 173 pgs, pb) contains an explanation of all aspects of the literary analysis; key themes; a schedule of what to do before, during and after reading the selection; answers to student questions (when not open-ended), suggestions for further reading and study; and grading grids. ~ Ruth

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