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I noticed an interesting article in the Washington Post a few years ago. It made me wonder if they hate literary analysis as much as I do.
Here is what the author, Nancy Schnog, says:
When you use a literature based curriculum, the boundaries between English course descriptions, history course descriptions, and reading lists get blurry! Instead of thinking you need to divide books between them all, think of it like a Venn Diagram:
Books that are ONLY in the English course description: textbooks, workbooks, curriculum. These might include: Sonlight Core 100, Spelling Power, Wordly Wise, Institute for Excellence in Writing High School Essay Intensive.
Books that are ONLY in the History course description: textbooks, workbooks, and curriculum. These might include: Sonlight Core 100, Mapping the World By Heart, History of US by Joy Hakim.
Books that go in BOTH English AND the reading list, literature read for school. For example: The Red Badge of Courage, Call of the Wild.
Books that go in BOTH the History course description and the reading list: biographies and historical fiction read for school. For example: Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin or Farewell to Manzanar.
If books fit in BOTH the history course description and the English course description, I would usually put the autobiographies in History and the historical novels in English, even though they help the child learn about both subjects.
The Reading List can include everything that is considered literature. For that reason, you can include literature reading for school, historical reading for school, historical novels, biographies, and any reading for fun. I usually leave off the list anything that seems like curriculum. Anthologies are collections of literature excerpts, and can be a little harder to place. When a reading list is already quite long, I suggest leaving the anthology as curriculum, either in the English course description or the History course description (or both!) but not on the reading list.
Because homeschoolers who use a literature based curriculum have so many books in the reading list (and always will, no doubt), I'd be tempted to remove the more schoolish books (such as Foxes Book of Martyrs, Beowulf, and Famous Men of Greece) and put those kinds of books ONLY in the course description, rather than on the reading list. But you know, that's really just a "me" thing. Most high school kids read 5-10 books a year, so there is no need to include everything, and these completely overlap! Although my son Alex read Jane Austen's books for fun and should have had those books on his reading list, the same books were ALSO on the reading list for Kevin, even though he didn't think it was much fun at all!
The bottom line? The reading list is not just for high school subjects, it's what your child read that year. It will include some literature they read for school subjects, especially when you use a literature based curriculum. Course descriptions are not about reading for fun, but might include books that are assigned for school and that might just happen to be fun to read.
Please note: This post was originally published in February 2013 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Hi Lee - I've been perusing the sites of the schools my high school junior is interested in applying to, wanting to see what their essay questions are so he can begin writing them. But ... they all have online applications that require an account. Any ideas for getting a hold of practice essays?"
My favorite Christmas school project was our yearly creative writing assignment based on Norman Rockwell art. Have you seen some of his holiday paintings? Amazing creative holiday writing prompts!
I asked my boys to choose any picture in Norman Rockwell's Christmas Book. Their assignment was to write a story behind the picture. They came up with some GREAT creative writing ideas, and the pictures really helped to get those creative juices flowing.
This tradition of creative holiday writing prompts was how my son Kevin came to write "The Santa Scandal."
"No one would see him. These and numerous other seductive thoughts flew through Andrew's brain like arrows. It was Christmas Eve, and his parents were out doing a little last minute shopping. There was a choice; be a good boy and go to bed, or sneak into his parents' room and hunt for presents."
During December, we would only do a few of the most challenging subjects - math, science, foreign language. For English, we switched our assignments and exchanged them for Christmas writing. The boys would write their Christmas cards and letters to friends. We listened to Handel's Messiah, and other Christmas music. When my kids were much younger, many of their winter projects came from Family Fun Magazine. You can find great craft ideas through the Family Fun website. Using their suggestions, we made many gifts for our family and friends.
Although they would finish their schoolwork at about noon, we had strict rules limiting TV and computer time during our "homeschool lite" season. The kids normally helped me with all the shopping, baking, cleanings, decorating, and preparing. Then they spent the rest of the day pursuing own interests.
Remember, colleges like "passion" and want to see kids take an interest in their own activities. December is a good time to allow specialization! Many students will do many hours of volunteer work. They may work hard on a Christmas play or musical. Older teens may consider a seasonal job or extra babysitting for friends. Make sure you somehow capture the hours from these activities, and put it on their transcript. These hours might be a class called Occupational Education or Home Economics, but sometimes you'll want to save those hours to record them as volunteer work.
By the way, Kevin's story about "The Santa Scandal" ends this way.
For a moment, the drawer seemed to contain nothing of importance. There was nothing but dusty, red clothes. Andrew dug deeper and uncovered a pointy fur hat. "Now that's odd. Why would Dad have red clothes and a hat. Unless..."
As his thoughts slowly caught up with him, his parents barged in from the living room - early. Andrew let out a strangled cry and whirled about. In his hands was the incriminating evidence, and on his face was written a mixture of horror, disbelief, and betrayal. Shaking with tears, he finally cried out, "You STOLE Santa's clothes?!?"
Haha! I love that! I still can't believe his creative conclusion!
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