Read with the Best: American Literature
You expect an excellent college-prep high school literature course to provide exposure to a comprehensive cross-section of literature, serious vocabulary study, extensive literary analysis, thorough reading comprehension coverage, and insightful writing instruction and assignments. This course delivers! With its emphasis on vocabulary and composition, it provides prep for the SAT/ACT as well as the AP Lit Exam or the Literature CLEPs. Volume 1 covers American Literature from Columbus through the troubled time preceding the Civil War. Completion of this course is the equivalent of one literature credit, one composition credit, and a ¼ credit in American history. (Isn't it refreshing to have someone recognize that literature provides historical insight?) The author has chosen to divide American Lit into two years instead of the typical one in order to provide more thorough author/works coverage, noting that many of these works provide excellent vehicles for the introductory literature and composition skills usually found in first year high school courses.
Read with the Best is coordinated with Write with the Best (by the same author, Jill Dixon). Volume 1 is occasionally referenced but Volume 2 is heavily drawn from to provide instruction and illustration for writing assignments in RWTB.
The course is organized into weekly study units which include one or more literature selections. Literature selections are taken from the Norton Anthology of American Literature although they can also be found online. These are typically whole works rather than excerpts. The study of each selection includes background information on the author/setting (student looks up); a "words to know" section that has the student determine the part of speech, provide synonyms, and use in sentences; and questions for both literary analysis and critical reading. Each week the student is challenged to "make it real." For instance: "Think of two examples of foils in literature or movies" or "Name at least one stereotype or stock character that Irving portrays in Rip Van Winkle." Writing assignments are also part of each week's study. As previously mentioned these are typically coordinated with Write with the Best. There is also a "culminating activity" weekly. These vary greatly but tend to be more hands-on and often something that will be more meaningful and fun if done in a group.
The Student Worktext is consumable and designed to provide both an excellent study tool as well as comprehensive test-prep review material. Introductory material and a weekly schedule (in the form of a checklist) communicate to the student the independent study nature of this course. Writing space for all assignments is provided although some students may prefer to complete the composition assignments on a computer program.
The Teacher's Edition is essentially a full-text answer key but also includes vocabulary and literary terms test masters (can reproduce for family) along with their answer keys. There is also a research paper checklist that can be reproduced for the student. ~ Janice