One of my children wants to be an author when she grows up. If I leave her where she is right now, she’s going to write endless stories about talking ducks. To improve her writing, and to ensure my kids do well in high school, college, and life I need to expose them to good books in high school. Towards that end I’m planning ahead for their homeschool high school literature.
(This post is sponsored by 7SistersHomeschool.com, opinions are mine and there are affiliate links in here)
What is a reasonable amount of books for my kids to read in high school?
In my head, as I’ve started planning our high school literature curriculum I’ve been comparing what I read in high school and what was expected of me.
In my honors/AP high school literature courses I read roughly one book a month and wrote maybe one paper a six weeks. End result was 6 papers for the year, maybe a few more or less depending on the year or the length or topic.
Depending on the year there may have been a vocabulary component or grammar, that really seemed to depend on the teacher. I had one teacher who loved vocabulary words and gave us vocabulary from the books we read, Greek mythology, and whatever else that passed her head.
The next year my teacher was giving us writing assignments based on literary styles and grammar details. I also remember having to copy grammar rules. I particularly hated that assignment.
In my head, that’s what I was planning.
Then I read the introduction of 7Sisters Literature guides. They gave a series of recommendations for the books depending on the year and where the kids were going (college bound, etc).
I blinked at the numbers of books they suggested reading. FORTY books for an honors course. My AP classes from one of the highest-ranking public schools in Texas (and the United States) never had that many.
Then I listened to their podcast on high school literature (and promptly hit subscribe). You’re not going in-depth on all 40 of those books. They’re talking about what I did. I read about 9 books a year in my high school literature course, and then on my own read a lot more, and some amount just reading the text for background knowledge.
That suddenly became doable.
Choosing books for homeschool high school literature
A few years ago I went to a homeschool convention and sat through a lecture on picking literature for your kids to read. It really inspired how I’ve done our homeschool literature choices so far. Some books that are good to read because of their quality, some books I wanted them to read so I could talk about it with them, and some they would just enjoy.
I was excited to see Seven Sisters high school literature follows a similar bent.
Take their High School American Literature bundle. Now, this is going to be a weak example because as a general rule I didn’t enjoy my American Literature course in high school. HOWEVER, there are several books in their course I’ve been looking forward to discussing with my kids. I’m looking forward to talking about their thoughts on Fahrenheit 451 and I know my daughter is going to love Little Women. I never had to read To Kill a Mockingbird as a kid, so I look forward to reading that with the kids and discussing it with them. I am looking forward to discussing the politics in Huckleberry Finn and how Huck’s viewpoint changes over the book.
Their British Lit bundle, I love and can’t wait for them, look at this book list: Animal Farm (I loved this as a Freshman, my kids will be reading it as Sophomores to coincide with modern history), British Poetry (I have to cover poetry sometime), Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats (I LOVE this), Christmas Carol (we’re reading this year), The Hobbit (hello, that’s totally our family), Invisible Man, Jekyll and Hyde (classics I’ve been intending to read), Sense and Sensibility (I love Jane Austen), and Tale of Two Cities (Jeff loves this book, I have a problem with Dickens ever since I read Great Expectations as a freshman).
Full confession, I’m still going to be picking based on books made into movies primarily, but I’m adding in these literature guides to add some more structure.
What’s in a 7Sistershomeschool.com high school literature course?
I’m going to use A Christmas Carol literature guide for my example (if you want to check out one of their literature guides for yourself, check out their freebie page). It’s the first one we’ll be completing together, as I plan for the kids to read A Christmas Carol in November. We have a family tradition of watching Muppet Christmas Carol the weekend after Thanksgiving, so this will let us eat all the fun snacks together.
The first thing you’ll see is a background for the book and everything going on at the time. It’s short, only a page or so.
Each literature guide starts off with a vocabulary list. I like how they break down different expectations. For a basic literature guide, just write a definition. Want to up the expectations? Have them paraphrase the definition. Up it even more? Find related words.
Next comes questions by chapter (Oh, I just saw you can type in the character guide, this is LIFE-CHANGING and will cut down on my kids losing stuff). Again, they break down requirements for what level you’re expecting of your child. I’m going to be using the Christmas Carol next year in 8th grade, our high school prep year (you’ll notice my 8th-grade curriculum picks have been updated with this new information). It will be the first literature guide we’ll use, and I intend to have them answer at the basic level, and discuss the questions as a group to prepare them for later in the year when they will complete the questions on their own.
Finally are some extended activities you can do with each book. Research opportunities, hands-on learning, or videos to watch. It’s greatly amusing to me to see the types of projects we do regularly in someone else’s curriculum. It’s actually kind of encouraging.
Bottom line planning high school literature
You can’t really mess it up. I think that was the most encouraging thing I found. It is not this big scary thing we make it into, and it’s easily doable.
As long as I don’t phone it in, my kids are going to be fine.
You can homeschool high school, and it doesn’t need to be scary.