Walking to Wisdom Literature Guides
This series of upper-level literature guides from Classical Academic Press covers selected works from C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Dorothy Sayers. They can be used together to fulfill one year of British literature or individually, although the authors selected these authors and works specifically as these authors' works often share the same themes and ideas - even across different genres of writing. These authors were deeply familiar with one another; all members of an informal literary discussion group called "The Inklings." The Inklings shared unfinished works with each other, reading and discussing them on Thursday evenings in C.S. Lewis' college rooms. The authors of these studies have taught extensively on all of these authors, and really desire to share the relationship between the Inklings, as well as a recognition for the common themes and ideas that run throughout their fictional and nonfictional works. A unique feature of these guides is that students not only read the featured work of fiction, but will also read excerpts from essays by all three of these - and additional related - authors. For example, in the guide for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, students spend the first several days reading, analyzing and summarizing essay excerpts from The Weight of Glory and Mere Christianity before starting into the novel. The excerpts are not included in the guides for copyright reasons, so you will need to get the books from the library or purchase those books as well. There are two suggested reading schedules given in each guide: a 10-day schedule and a 20-day schedule, depending on your volume of work in other subject areas. Please note that you may want to schedule in additional time for the enrichment and writing activities found at the end of each guide.
The study guide authors emphasize active reading and note-taking, where the student makes notes in their copy of the novel to help them pay attention, gather details, note instances where themes are apparent and more. (You may wish to invest in a copy of the book for your student's purposes only, rather than have them mark up the family read-aloud copy!) The study guide pages for each reading assignment remind the student to make notes in their book, look for passages that reference the "great ideas" in that section and record them on the lined pages provided for nine different themes, orally narrate a summary of the chapters to a teacher or partner (or retell in another creative way), and answer the reading and discussion questions. The reading questions are basically comprehension questions, while the discussion questions focus on main ideas and analyzing the author's meanings and choices. The literature guide activities wrap up with a journaling assignment based on the reading and a prompt to generate your own discussion questions based on the reading. No crosswords or vocabulary exercises here; there is a heavy emphasis on discussion and writing throughout these guides. At the end of the guide, you'll find enrichment activities and writing project suggestions. These focus on the work as a whole, and include hands-on and creative activity and writing suggestions, as well as multiple essay assignment possibilities, exploring one of the "great ideas" from the book even further. Suggested essay assignments include a thesis, question, expanded question, and personal connection questions (the Teacher's Edition also includes a sample essay for each).
Much of the material is the same between the student and teacher editions, and many of the pages in the teacher's edition are a copy of the student's page with answers and suggested summaries/essays filled in. However, the study guide authors suggest that it will probably be very helpful for you to have the teacher's edition so that the student can write their own summaries and answers, then read the authors' version in the teacher's edition to see what they may have missed, and for further education. If you choose to use these for a year of British literature, the suggested scope of sequence is: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Last Battle, The Screwtape Letters, Till We Have Faces, The Man Born to Be King, the Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. We will list them in that order below. These fill a unique niche in the study guides available at the upper levels, and they go a little deeper - across the works of multiple authors - than other study guides we have seen at this level. - Jess