English Lessons Through Literature – Review

Available through Lulu.com and at http://barefootmeandering.com/bookstore.html.


The author of English Lessons Through Literature, Kathy Jo DeVore, was nice enough to send both the Level 3 Book and Workbook for us to review. This is recommended for third to fourth grade students, and I have thoroughly enjoyed her approach to language. The lessons make sense and use her text, together with classic books such as The Story of Dr. Dolittle, The Wonderful Land of Oz and The Secret Garden that are freely available via Kindle and other eBook providers. The simplicity of design and wonderful explanations make English a subject that the kids won’t mind, and the poems and fables she includes will make them want to come back, again and again.

With a subject like this, the lessons can become very dry and dull, turning English into a chore that children avoid like changing the litter box. That is not the case here!

There are 36 weeks of content, with three lessons per week, arranged so that the pace can be altered according to the needs of your kids. It’s very well organized, and easy to follow. Most of the copywork and examples come directly from the recommended books, but if you or your kids simply do not like a book don’t use it. The author’s advice on that is to, “Use the curriculum, don’t let the curriculum use you”. That said, I love the books she chose for this level, and look forward to using this system for our language lessons.

“…an interesting, engaging way to teach grammar in your #homeschool”

Each lesson has well-defined assignments designed to increase your child’s understanding of the English language in a way that is approachable and interesting. I found her use of poetry, fables and excerpts from the books included in the book a refreshing break from the daily grind, and the way she connects those with the lessons is brilliant. Our twins have really enjoyed reading some of them with me. The resident guinea pigs asked to read more, and if that is not high praise, I don’t know what is.

The lessons include copywork, narration, dictation and picture study. Sentence diagramming is also involved, and before you groan because you hated to do that, just try it with your kids. You will be amazed at how they start to understand how a sentence goes together. The visual learners out there will really appreciate the diagramming, and it’s not so much that you’ll want to run screaming for the hills. The sentences are in the lessons and examples are from real books, and I think this is part of what helps everything connect so well. By using sentences from the book you are currently reading, you end up with a better understanding of grammar used in the real world. We learn first by mimicking our parents, why should we not learn written language by mimicking writing from real books?

The workbook gives plenty of writing space for each of the lesson, with ruled lines and the copywork quotes and sentences all ready to go. It’s definitely worth a look if your kids like to have a workbook to go with their lessons, but it’s listed as optional.

English Lessons Through Literature is a wonderful curriculum, and if you are looking for an interesting, engaging way to teach grammar in your homeschool, I highly recommend this as a resource. Levels one through three are available now, and levels four and five should be available this Fall.

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Gail Nelson

Gail is a mom to four kids, two of whom are at home being homeschooled. She teaches violin and viola, and wrote Teach Your Kids Music in 12 Weeks, and blogs sporadically at 48days.net. As Editor in Chief of Learning Tangent, she oversees the daily operations of the magazine.

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