Sunday, July 8, 2012

Review of Lightning Literature

Literature is one of those subjects I never really gave much thought to. My kids read avidly and we talk about what they read.  End of subject.  But not really...

One of the things I have had to struggle most with in my homeschooling is reconciling my idea of what a subject should look like with my children's personalities.  For example, I already know that I will not be asking my nine year-old son to write answers to comprehension questions any time soon.  Like most boys, he resists mightily attempts to make him sit and write for any length of time.  My daughter, though, is enough like me that I thought that she would respond well to rote literature questions.  I was wrong.  She did not suffer answering questions to which the answers were obvious.  It seemed like a waste of time to her.  To that end, I am always on the hunt for a good literature program.  I have children who love to read, but I want to make sure I have children who are able to get the most out of what they read.  Enter Lightning Literature.

Lightning Literature is one of those programs I have long been anxious to check out.  In fact, truth be told, I would have probably eventually succumbed and bought the program had not I received it free in exchange for my review.  As it turns out, it would have been a great purchase!

When I saw that Early - Mid 19th Century British Literature was a review option, I jumped at the chance to use it.  My gifted (nearly) 11 year-old daughter loves Jane Austen and Romantic poetry.  What could be better than trying out the Lightning Literature take on these favorites? To see the complete Table of Contents, visit this page.  This view alone gives you a small idea of how very much material is covered in this curriculum.  Familiar literary devices (tone, description, etc.) are all covered using the best literature of the time period.  Worried about having to hunt down obscure poems and essays? Don't.  Everything you need (with the exception of the novels which can be found everywhere from public domain Internet sites to your local bookstore or library) is found in the guide itself.  You won't have to hunt down anything.

Each chapter follows the general format as this sample chapter (Jane Austen - yay!).   Before one reads, there are concepts to consider.  There are review-type questions (which can be done orally if you choose).  Then there is a lengthy discussion on the literary concept with specific references to the text.  These guides are written by people who know their stuff.  English is one of my strong suits, and I can tell shallow literary analysis at a glance.  This is not shallow literary analysis.  Best of all, a parent does not have to know a think about English literature or literary analysis in order to use this program - it's all done for you.  Finally, there are writing exercises.  You can do one or all. Depending on the age of your child, you can merely discuss, or your child can write full essays (as she would want to do if this course will end up on a transcript).

This course is recommended for grades 10-12, and is suggested for a student who has already taken a Lightning Literature course.  As with all things homeschool, though, everything depends on an individual child.  My (nearly) 11 year-old daughter had no trouble reading the selections (we got through Jane Austen and William Blake, but we're not stopping there!) and answering the recall-type questions.  We read the literary analysis together so we could talk about it, but the essay questions were definitely within reach for her.  My best advice is to consider the sample chapters available at Lightning Literature in order to decide if the program will work with your child.

The Early 19th Century British Literature Student Guide costs $29.95.  The optional Teachers Guide is well worth the $2.95 price tag, as it contains answers, suggested schedules, and more.  We love this curriculum and will definitely be using it again.  To see other opinions, visit the Crew blog.

Disclaimer: I received Lightning Literature free in exchange for my review.  The product may have been free, but my opinion isn't for sale - it's all mine.

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