Saxon Homeschool Literature Study Guides

Of good literature guides, there appears to be no end. At least one might come to that conclusion when looking through this section of our catalog. However, there are differences between the many guides that we carry - and good reasons why we have added this series. From a secular publisher, this series reflects both the literature choices common to public schools as well as the content issues reflected by state standards. In general, these guides are well organized and easy to adapt to a homeschool or co-op. Although there is a consistent structure across the grade levels, there is also an increasing depth in terms of discussion and heightened expectations in terms of written output. There is also movement from a focus on reading strategies toward vocabulary development and literary analysis, although all three are covered at all levels.

Practically all of the guides include a Resources Overview on the inside front cover, dividing the literature selection (a.k.a. book or novel) into manageable reading assignments. Middle school guides typically have 4-5 assignments/sections while the high school guides have 6-7. Usually you can figure about a week per assignment section. Also included in the Resources Overview is a list of reproducible worksheets to be used with each section. Since each guide includes quite a few of these reproducibles (perforated and hole-punched), preparation is easy and minimal. The Overview also includes a "Connections" section. This refers to supplemental material - often excerpts from other books or magazine/newspaper articles - that is part of an (expensive) Holt library edition of the books which we do not carry. Although this material looks interesting and in some instances could be supplied from other sources, this portion of the guide is small (less than 10%) and will not be missed.

Which brings us to the excellent study material you will not want to miss. After a brief To The Teacher section (you know, objectives, tips, inclusion strategies, etc.), there is background info on the author as well as the historical and literary context for the book. This is followed by critical response information. [I found this fascinating - reading how contemporaries responded to the book. For instance, did you know that Charlotte Bronte was less than impressed with the work of Jane Austen?] Then on to a section called the novel at a glance - structure, major characters, themes, and literary elements. All of this serves to equip the teacher for a thorough and enjoyable study of the book.

The rest of the guide is the individual (weekly) lessons. Each reading assignment/section lesson includes: Making Meaning (first thoughts, reading check, shaping interpretation, connecting with and challenging the text), Reading Strategies (graphic organizers), Novel/Book Notes ("newspaper" with culturally related info), and Choices (project ideas - performance, art, creative writing, group discussion, etc.) all with worksheets. The beginning and ending lesson follow a different pattern. The first introduces the book while the last "Extends and Assesses" - a novel review, literary elements worksheets, vocabulary worksheets, writing projects, cross-curricular projects, and multimedia and internet connections. The remainder of the guides include a three-part test (objective, short answers, and essay questions) and a complete (both test and worksheets) answer key. As mentioned before all worksheets and the test are reproducible.

These guides are referenced to hardback library editions published by HRW. However, since most assignments are divided according to natural divisions in the book (i.e. chapters, acts, etc.) unabridged editions of the book will work. We don't carry a collection of either American or British short stories that match the ones covered in these guides. However, it's relatively easy to obtain copies of these from the internet by searching for the "story


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