Reading and understanding quality literature is on the list of must-do's for most high school students. Unfortunately most literature programs have the opposite effect by "beating a book to death" with endless essay writing, MLA formatting, or approach papers. Though those skills are good to have, they aren't necessary in order to dissect and understand each book that is read. Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide from Writing with Sharon Watson offers a wonderful alternative in literature study for Christian High Schools, homeschools and book groups!
Author Sharon Watson wrote this curriculum in order to help parents and teens make difficult concepts easier to understand. The ultimate goal is to make more knowledgeable and discerning readers by analyzing stories to sort the wheat from the chaff!
Your highschooler will read:
- Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
- The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
- The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
- Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
- Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beals
- A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
Starting at the beginning of When Worlds Collide, literature term basics such as antagonist, irony, conflicts and more are covered. Then for each subsequent chapter, clear objectives are laid out for the student.
First, the book is introduced. Next an overview of the reading and homework plan. The flow of work is to do some lessons in the student book before reading the literature book. These "pre-lessons" include information about the author, more literary terms, fun facts and what assignments to put into the Novel Notebook. Quizzes are woven into each lesson and can be done either online or from the manual. After the book is read, choose an activity for the given list - perhaps some research, create a scene, watch a movie, write an essay and more! Then, finish the remaining lessons as listed.
The Novel Notebook can either be downloaded or a plain notebook used to record answers to questions posed within each chapter.
Grading for high school classes can sometimes get tricky. When Worlds Collide comes with an easy to use grading grid based off of the following:
- "Yes I read it" quiz
- Online literary terms quiz
- Participation in opinion questions
- Quality of participation in discussions
- Successful completion of lessons and assignments
- Successful completion of activity
- Finished reading the book
Our Experience with Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide
For this review, my high schooler and I set to work with Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Student Books, Teacher's Guide, Quiz and Answer Manual and Novel Notebook. Using our approved versions of Pudd'nhead Wilson and War of the Worlds. My son was well able to navigate the assignments on his own. In addition to the story lines, the topics of racism, God's view of humanity, eugenics, socialism and evolution were also explored and discussed.
At first, I wasn't too excited about the list of chosen books. But, since we really enjoyed Sharon Watson's writing program, The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, I wanted to give this literature curriculum a try. It's hard NOT to like an author who says, "You don't have to like the book, you just have to read the book." !
After reading the author's reasoning for these books, I do agree that they do in fact have "colliding worlds" story lines and literary value with the ability to help students make good life choices from a godly perspective. Though each book reflects that particular author's worldview, the guide itself is written with a Biblical Worldview which helps tie it all together.
As for my son, he wishes this curriculum had come out earlier in his high school career. That's ok, because it will be used and thoroughly enjoyed by subsequent high schoolers!
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