Beowulf (New Verse Translation)
In this edition, the 3100+ lines of the poem are presented side-by-side in Old English and modern English. The highly readable, modern translation is done by author Seamus Heaney, the 1995 laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Heaney also writes the introduction, which provides historical background and some analysis of the poem. - Anh
Please note that a brief synopsis of many of the books included here are provided in our Library Builders section. Study guides for the same book are often available from several publishers, so we found it more efficient to give a description of the book only once.
From the captivating introductory question “Why study this stuff?” to the glorious full-color artwork representations to the sheer comprehensiveness of the coverage, these books are enthralling. Omnibus is Latin for “all encompassing; everything.” The publishers couldn’t have picked a better title for this project that has as its goal a six-year theology, history, and literature curriculum that will literally “talk about everything” - all the important ideas from all the ages will be put on the table to explore.
The Omnibus curriculum desires to enable the student to unlock the treasure chest of ideas contained in the Great Books – those which have guided and informed thinking people of western civilization. While you might associate the term with the list compiled and edited by Mortimer Adler, the publishers and editors of the Omnibus have established their own list that overlaps with Adler’s.
Omnibus is both classical and Christian. It was written from a distinctly Protestant viewpoint that is best summarized by the Westminster Confession of Faith. Omnibus I (Biblical and Classical Civilizations) and Omnibus II (Church Fathers Through the Reformation) are 7th and 8th grade texts with emphasis on the logic stage. Omnibus IV - V covers similar time periods but with emphasis on the rhetoric stage. Omnibus III & VI covers modern (1563 to present) times with logic and rhetoric emphasis respectively. In other words, grades 7-12 grades are covered in two, three-year rotations.
Each Omnibus is divided into two semesters with primary (traditional Great Books) and secondary (other) book selections for each. These selections and the course built around them are rigorous; very rigorous. Some parents might be concerned about portions of the content. The editors are clear about several things. First, they assume that evil is to be conquered rather than evaded. Secondly, they assume that godly oversight and protection will accompany the student through this coursework. Thirdly, they see the Christian home as a boot camp where students are taught to handle their weapons - under godly, patient supervision. Lastly, since the Bible includes the same topics as these books there is no subject that this curriculum will raise in the minds of junior or senior high students that would not also be raised as he reads the Bible.
If you’re beginning to feel overwhelmed, relax. These texts will instill confidence even as they make the job easier for you. In essence, they’re comprised of stand-alone guides for reading, studying and understanding these Great Books and the Great Conversation of ideas they represent. Beginning with an introductory worldview essay, a session is outlined for each day a book is to be studied. The number of weeks in a study varies with the selection. Discussion is a major part of every book study. Some days the discussion is general with an eye on comprehension but more often the focus is textual, cultural, and biblical analysis. There are daily reading assignments and almost daily writing assignments plus a large selection of optional activities. The really comforting thought is that the Teacher CD contains complete and thorough answers and talking points for every discussion or question raised.
In addition to the wonderful artwork, other excellent resources are evident. Appendix I outlines a two semester reading schedule. Appendix II is a parallel timeline of events in history, literature, and theology, with miniature art representations or a book cover. The Teacher CD-ROM includes the entire text on PDF files with answers and talking points inserted into the discussion session notes. Additionally, lesson plans, teaching tips, and midterm and semester exams with answers are included. It also includes a grading calculator - an Excel file where you insert a student’s grades. The text does not include the reading selections; you will need to obtain them separately. The editors also mention two beneficial references - Western Civilization by Spielvogel and the History of Art for Young People (we have it listed as Short History of Art) by Janson & Janson. As you look over the reading selections, don’t be surprised to note, “I read this book in college.” These are academically (and spiritually) challenging courses. ~ Janice
First Semester Primary Books: Beowulf, Confessions, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, Eusebius, The Church History, On the Incarnation of Our Lord, Rule of St. Benedict in English, The Song of Roland.
First Semester Secondary: The Dragon and the Raven, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Hobbit, The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Nine Tailors.
Second Semester Primary: The Bondage of the Will, The Canterbury Tales, The Divine Comedy, Inferno, History of the Kings of Britain, Macbeth, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
Second Semester Secondary: Henry V, King Richard III, The Return of the King, The Two Towers, Winning His Spurs.
Well known as one of the greatest heroic poems in Old English, Beowulf recounts the tales and adventures of the character with the same moniker. In the first adventure, Beowulf, a young nobleman from southern Sweden, comes to the aid of the King of Denmark by fighting the monster Grendel. In the second tale, after 50 years of peaceful rule, Beowulf is called upon to fight the dragon that has been terrorizing his country. Thought to be written sometime between the late 7th and early 11th centuries, the original author is unknown. However, there are many different versions available; see below for a few of these.
From 500 A.D. to 1530 A.D., this literature approach to history takes students through the medieval period via some of the best classic and historic literature available. Students read works by classic authors such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Sir Walter Scott. They learn about heroic figures of the time like Wycliffe, Tyndale, Joan of Arc, Luther, Saladin and more. This one-year course has been revised and the publishers have broken the study into two guides; one for intermediate/junior high grades, and one for high school. The guides are now full-color. The Intermediate/Junior High guide features 35 weekly lessons with reading assignments, mapping activities, research and discussion topics, hands-on and craft suggestions, vocabulary lists and more.
Instead of isolating Bible and Christian history from what was happening in the rest of the world, the folks at Veritas aim to incorporate it. They offer four different history time periods (each aimed at a different grade level and designed to take one school year) which take students from creation to the present. The program originally had three parts: teacher's manual, history cards (an absolutely essential element of the curriculum) and a memory song on audio CD. The song is sung by a woman with a pleasant voice at varying tempos and is designed as a type of auditory time line. The history cards are fantastic! They have many interesting facets (the more you study them, the more you learn). The cards from the various time periods are color coded and numbered - there are 32 cards in each pack. If the cards also relate to Bible history they have another color and another number. Each card has a picture (usually in full color) representing what it is about. For example, the card for Creation has a reproduction of the Creation of the sun and moon from the Sistine Chapel Ceiling by Michelangelo. Many of the other pictures on the other cards are famous paintings as well. Each card has a
The best way to describe these wonderful books is "literature and Bible study rolled into one." Truly from a Christian perspective, these classic and award-winning books are examined in the light of God's Word and a Biblical worldview. The author sent us several review copies and they are wonderful!
Each guide includes:
- a concise synopsis of the book
- information about the book's author
- background information pertinent to the story
- suggestions for activities relating to the subject matter
- introduction of literary terms
- vocabulary exercises for each section of reading
- comprehension, analysis, and application questions for each section of reading with discussion of related Biblical themes
- a complete answer key and suggestions for further reading
Their brochure states "Our goal is to teach students of all ages to examine what they read, Christian or secular, classic or contemporary, and value the truth it contains as measured against the Bible." A worthy goal indeed! If you want to study great literature from a Christian perspective, here's your answer! If in doubt, try just one - we're sure you'll be back for more!
Progeny Press guides are available in two formats: softcover staplebound booklets and CD-ROMs. The CD-ROMs originally featured printable .pdf files, but Progeny Press is now transitioning these to interactive .pdf files. Inspired by a tax software, these files are able to be used by the student on the computer, or printed out. Questions in the files have text boxes to type in or buttons to select, so you won't have to print worksheet pages if you don't want to. Plus, users can grade their answers and leave notes as well! Upper Elementary through High School CD guides are now interactive, while Lower elementary
As a long-time homeschooler when I hear that something is "standards-based" I usually proceed cautiously. These guides are proof that "standards-based" can be a good thing. They are very meaty, user-friendly guides for those wanting an in-depth study of quality literature. Reproducible, these guides provide biographical and background info, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing activities as well as quizzes and tests; all with answers included. All of these you would expect and hope to find in a literature study guide. Now for the "meaty" part. For instance, the pre-reading assessment for The Crucible includes questions about the Salem witch trials, witchcraft in the 16th and 17th centuries, puritan religion and beliefs as well as the Joseph McCarthy hearing of the 1950's (the context of the writing of the play), communism, the House un-American activities committee, and the red scare and blacklists. Background information on these subjects provide the material for "exploring expository writing" exercises such as note-taking and summarizing. After these introductory and orientation activities, reading assignments with corresponding vocabulary, comprehension, and literary analysis exercises are provided with frequent use of graphic organizers to help the student sort through and organize the information. Since The Crucible is a play, literary analysis in this guide focuses on dramatic elements such as "tragedy and the tragic hero" in addition to more typical literary elements such as irony. Vocabulary exercises are impressive. For instance, one section in this guide highlights the subtle differences between "denotation" (dictionary definition of a word) and "connotation (feeling behind the word); another looks at word parts. For each reading assignment segment (in this case, each act of the play) there is a comprehension check, a quiz, and a vocabulary quiz. There are two forms of the final test - one that is solely multiple choice and one that includes matching, multiple choice, true-false, and short essay responses.
In addition to the above, there is a "teacher guide" portion which includes a summary of the play, a vocabulary list with definitions, pre- and post-reading extension activities and alternative assessment as well as essay writing ideas. For help in grading there are two rubrics - one for projects and one for written responses to literature. The Guides are designed to be used in their sequential entirety but they may be divided into separate parts. Not all activities need to be used although they have been provided with the goal of full comprehension and mastery of the skills involved.
All in all, these guides are very easy to use and quite flexible (we have also been pleased to discover that several of them have been written by an actual homeschool mom!). Teacher prep has been done - except for copying the student sheets. Could you just hand your student these copied sheets and have them complete the work as an independent study? Probably. However, the richness of the material will be strengthened by one-on-one discussion and instruction or by co-op class interaction. Throughout the guides there is an emphasis on finding and developing common moral themes like "honesty is the best policy" but if you've guessed these are from a secular publisher, you would be correct. - Janice