This novel by Kate DiCamillo tells the story of the unlikely mouse hero, Despereaux. This especially small, big-eared mouse seems to be a constant disappointment to the other mice in the castle where they live. However, through his intelligence and bravery, Despereaux gains his independence, faces rats in dungeons, saves a princess, and earns the respect of the mice, rats, and even humans. A well-written, thought-provoking tale that is sure to captivate readers of all ages. 270 pgs, pb.
Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other's lives. What happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.
With black-and-white illustrations and a refreshed cover by Timothy Basil Ering.
A brave mouse, a covetous rat, a wishful serving girl, and a princess named Pea come together in Kate DiCamillo's Newbery Medalwinning tale.
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
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.
Please note that one of the literature selections at this level is Wheel on the School, by Meindert deJong. Unfortunately this book is currently out of print and unavailable, but it is easy to find used copies or borrow from the library.
While there is a decided emphasis in Lightning Literature on enjoying and understanding the literature, the program is also decidedly comprehensive in its grammar and usage coverage and just plain expectant in its composition assignments. A Teacher Guide, a Student Worktext, and lots of classic (along with some contemporary) children's books are the components for the program.
The Teacher Guide is the heart of the program and is necessary. It's here that the general flavor of the program is most obvious including its orientation toward teacher-student interaction rather than independent student work. Detailed daily instructions are written in first person to the parent/teacher. The flexibility built into the program is reiterated often with examples of how to adapt the teaching instructions for students who are sluggish or need extra challenge. Weekly schedules have a basic structure. Each day includes literature study, grammar/mechanics study, and work on the weekly composition assignment. All workbook answers are provided in the Teacher Guide
The Student Worktexts include some instructional material but are essentially consumable worktexts. Most of the grammar exercises are included here along with space to write thoughts about the reading selection (i.e. Reading Journal Pages: What this Story is About, What I Think of this Story, and My Favorite Sentence). The books are colorful and appealing. Literature Only Packages include all the literature selections needed for the course. The Grade 3 Full Year Package includes all the literature plus the Teacher Book and Student Worktext. The Random House Book of Poetry for Children is used throughout the year and included in some of the packages.
Literature selections for Grade 3 include: Charlotte's Web, Sarah, Plain and Tall, Ramona and Her Father, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Wave, Tale of Despereaux, Rickshaw Girl, and Wheel on the School.
Lightning Literature and Composition at the elementary level brings Five in a Row to mind. Utilizing the same "read-through-books-multiple-times-a-week" methodology in the lowest grades yet with a focus on literature appreciation as well as systematic grammar and writing instruction, the goal is both developing a love of great literature and a loving, gentle introduction to language arts. Snuggle up on the sofa, use this course as a road map, and read good books with your child. You'll accomplish the goals of this program!
My first assumption about this program was that it would provide a light overview of grammar and composition with an emphasis on settling back and enjoying the literature. While there is a decided emphasis on enjoying and understanding the literature, the program is also decidedly comprehensive in its grammar and usage coverage and just plain expectant in its composition assignments. Students are encouraged to write a wide variety of compositions although those expectations are never to get in the way of enjoying the story. You might be wondering about the role of phonics/reading instruction in this program. To put it simply, it's not included. There seems to be an underlying assumption that the student is reading at grade level and that phonics instruction is underway (or completed).
A Teacher's Guide, a Student Worktext, and lots of classic (along with a few contemporary) children's books are the components for the program. The early grades also include weekly extra read-aloud stories/books (i.e. Aesop's Fables in Grade 1; Winnie the Pooh and Just So Stories in Grade 2). There are 36 weekly lessons; each with daily instruction for Monday through Thursday (Friday is a day off). Lessons in Grade 1 are each based on a well-loved children's picture book. In Grade 2, the lessons start with picture books but in the last third of the year move into chapter books which are studied over a multi-week schedule. Upper levels cover chapter books over several weeks (anywhere from 2 to 5). Grade 2 introduces Poetry lessons (four weeks interspersed throughout the year) using the Random House Book of Poetry for Children.
Daily instruction includes three segments: literature, grammar & mechanics, and composition. Picture books are read at least twice with comprehension and literary questions provided. Chapter books are divided into multiple weekly lessons. Grammar lessons are brief and tied to the reading selection and then reviewed in subsequent weeks. Diagramming (a helpful graphic organizer) is introduced in Grade 2. Compositions are assigned weekly with daily guidance towards completion. Handwriting instruction and practice can be incorporated into each lesson as desired/needed.
The Teacher's Guide is the heart of the program and is necessary. It's here that the general flavor of the program is most obvious including its orientation toward teacher-student interaction rather than independent student work. Detailed daily instructions are written in first person to the parent/teacher. The flexibility built into the program is reiterated often with examples of how to adapt the teaching instructions for students who are sluggish or need extra challenge. Weekly schedules have a basic structure, though. Each day includes literature study, grammar/mechanics study, and work on the weekly composition assignment.
To give you some idea of how the TG is set up, let's look at Grade 1, Week 23. The At a Glance page gives an overview of the week, listing the book for the week (Story About Ping), a fable, and optional materials, while stating that the grammar/mechanics lesson is on contractions, and the composition is an instructional article. Daily literature questions include story retelling, examination of the story, character, setting, external details, internal details and conflict, as well as some thought-provoking "consideration" questions. Comprehension questions are designed as a tool to improve comprehension rather than to test for it. Answers are provided where they would be helpful. Grammar and mechanics lessons are typically short and usually involve a workbook page (answers provided). Coverage includes punctuation, capitalization, parts of speech, sentence diagramming (beginning in Grade 2), and occasional literary concepts. Daily composition segments lead the student through the writing process including brainstorming, ordering, rough drafts, and final drafts. The variety of writing assignments includes creative writing, essays of all sorts (description, personal, opinion, etc.), research paper, and poems. There is a constant emphasis on remembering that the goal is to love literature and language arts with suggestions for adapting the lessons to the needs of your student. Each week ends with suggestions for extending the lesson. A teacher's handwriting guide in the back of the teacher books includes instruction, a letter stroke alphabet, and reproducible masters for handwriting pages with various sized lines.
The Student Books include some instructional material but are essentially consumable worktexts. Most of the grammar exercises are included here along with space to write thoughts about the reading selection (i.e. Reading Journal Pages: What this Story is About, What I Think of this Story, and My Favorite Sentence). The books are colorful and appealing. Artwork related to the week's literature selection is included with each lesson. A build-it-yourself dictionary (students write words they've encountered under various letters) is included in the back of each student book.
"Reading should be fun, and writing should be satisfying." The author of this series believes this, and she has produced courses that try to keep that goal ever present. She WANTS students to enjoy themselves! Accordingly, reading assignments are comfortable - two novels, two non-fiction books, two short stories and several poems for the 7th grade course, for instance. Lessons are well-constructed and the excellent and thorough coverage includes vocabulary, comprehension, literary elements, composition, grammar, and mechanics.
The three components of this program are designed to be complementary and to be used together. The Student Workbook is the student's textual companion as they study the literature selections. This consumable book is the place for the student to "do" their work. It provides worktext space for all the essential exercises as well as some optional fun/reinforcement exercises.
The Teacher Guide is the "glue" that holds the whole program together providing a philosophical and methodical overview of the program and a weekly planning schedule (lesson plans) as well as chapter-by-chapter answers and teaching helps.
The last component is the excellent Literature Selections that are the heart of the program. Classics, familiar, non-familiar, poetry, and, occasionally, surprising choices all find their way onto the book lists for each grade level. While you may be able to locate some or all of the books at a library, we also offer Literature Packages for each guide that include the necessary books. You and your student are encouraged to read, enjoy, and profit from the year's literature studies. ~ Janice
If you're looking for a study guide for a specific book, Novel Units probably has it covered! They produce hundreds of literature guides - only a sampling of them are listed here.
Teacher Guides are 30-40 pages - not voluminous, but enough for good coverage of the book. Format of the guides vary somewhat by grade level, but have some common elements. They begin with a synopsis of the book and its author and some pre-reading activities that serve both to provide background for the novel study and initiate student involvement and thinking about the story. Chapter by chapter (in some guides, multiple chapters) lesson plans contain vocabulary words, discussion questions (with answers), and suggested activities. Some guides also include writing ideas. Literature concepts/skills appear here and there. Some guides contain reproducible graphic organizers to aid student analysis. All include some culminating questions and activities. Again, these vary in scope and type by guide. There are no objective or essay tests, but each guide ends with a student assessment page that provides a list of projects or exercises to be completed to help evaluate student understanding.
Student Packets although not available for every book vary somewhat by grade level and book. Student packets may include: activity pages, study guide, graphic organizers, writing and/or listening and speaking prompts, critical thinking challenges, quizzes and unit test. Answers are included in the back, along with an essay evaluation form (i.e. rubric). Student packets are not reproducible.
Really, each of these components can function as a stand-alone product and can be used without the other, but for a more comprehensive study, they are best used in concert. There is very little overlap between the two, even in the chapter-by-chapter questions - but completing the questions in the Student Packet will help prepare your child for the more in-depth questions found in the Teacher Guide. If your child is working independently on a novel, the Student Packet can be used alone (if available). If you want to do little written work and put more emphasis on discussion, the Teacher Guide can be used by itself.
Please note that some guides have been written to correlate with a specific edition of a book. Some of these editions are now out of print, and we do not carry all versions mentioned. Where multiple editions are available, such as Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the page numbers given in the guide may not correlate exactly.