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.
I attended one of your seminars and think I remember you saying that Washington history is not required for entry into college, but an employee at Homeschool Potpourri book store said that it is required for high school diploma (1/2 credit, actually). Could you give me your input on this matter? Thank you.
~ Linda in Washington
Hi Lee—something that we have done for several years as part of our Washington State curriculum has been to go to the Washington State Corn Maze. It's up north of Seattle by highway 2, but well worth the trip. I believe that the web site is: thefarm1.com. It has grown quite a bit since we first started going there about 5-6 years ago. It is run by former teachers who saw inspiration in educating children in this fun way. The Maze is laid out in the shape of Washington with the trails being the roads of the state. What makes it so educational is that they have made signs throughout the maze that includes historical and interesting facts for the different cities and towns. Not only that, but they have also made it into a scavenger hunt for information. It really helps put perspective on where different events happened and is a great learning activity, especially for those kinetic learners. By the way, there is also a pumpkin patch, cut flower garden, a pig show, a barn maze, a bakery, concessions (on the weekends), a playground area, picnic area, a real grass mini-golf course, and a hay rack ride to the entrance side of the maze. For less exciting curriculum, the Children's Book Store in Kent has workbook type of activities, as well as a Washington State Bingo game.
--Sharon in Kent
Thanks for another great newsletter!
I do have a recommendation for Washington State History. We used Our Northwest Heritage and Lights in the Northwest, both by Richard Hannula (http://www.soundsummitbooks.com/). As is normal with homeschoolers, I picked and chose where to expand on his points, and where to choose to disagree. As a supplement, my students used HistoryLink.org to look up additional data (its Washington-specific). It has a couple of particular "bents" that don't parallel our own points of view, but the kids knew that going in.
We tried a few others, and didn't really like them. Lights in the Northwest is a collection of short biographies, while Our Northwest
Heritage covers Washington from its beginnings. (Note: some glaring omissions included the Kennewick Man, but that's why we supplement :-)).
I taught my own children using this (modified) curriculum, and have taught it in co-op situations. While not something most students would read on their own, I heard nothing but positive remarks in the classroom.
In His grip,
Julie at WAHomeschool.com
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