Memoria Press Literature Guides: A Classical Approach to Literature (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

Having had the opportunity to use literature guides as well as other resources from Memoria Press before, I was excited to have another opportunity to review something from them. This time we were able to have a closer look at the Ninth Grade Literature Guide Set.

Memorial Press classical literature guides

We received for our review the entire ninth grade literature set. This includes:

  • Henry V Student book 
  • Henry V Teacher's guide 
  • Beowulf Student book 
  • Beowulf Teacher's guide 
  • Canterbury Tales student book 
  • Canterbury Tales Teacher's guide 
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Student book 
  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Teacher's guide
Literature guides

The set doesn't include the actual book to read, and there are specific versions of the books recommended on the Memoria Press product page. The books can be purchased separately through Memoria Press or from another source. Although we took a look at all of the guides during our review, Charles- who was using the guides- chose to read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight during the review period. I purchased the book for him, and we were set.

Homeschool literature guide

About Memoria Press

Memoria Press is a publisher that offers Classic, Christian educational resources. We've used their Latin program as well as some of their literature guides for the younger grades in the past. The company's materials focus on the principles and methods of Classical education, such as studying the liberal arts and reading great works of classical Western literature.

The company offers a variety of resources including literature guides, Latin curriculum, fine arts resources, English grammar, science, and more. Many of their materials are bundled and sold as complete curriculum sets for pre-k through twelfth grade.

The Literature Guides

Memoria Press offers literature guides for pre-k through twelfth grade. Although I've used some of the younger literature guides, I hadn't had the opportunity to use any of the upper level guides. I chose the ninth grade set for Charles- who is technically a tenth grader- because the literature choices were based on early English history and mythology, subject matter that often interests him.

The literature guides from Memoria Press can be purchased separately or as a grade level set such as we received. The books do not come with the sets. 

When we first received the literature guides, I took some time to look through them and see how I was going to schedule the reading and completion of the study guide. There is some good explanation in the front of the teacher's guides about how these guides work as well as a suggested order for completing each section's activities. There isn't a daily lesson plan break down, and I appreciate this flexibility. Obviously some students are going to be faster readers and workers and some may need more time.

If you are familiar with the Classical Trivium idea of three stages of learning- Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric- you'll recognize that pattern in the ninth grade literature guides. None of the ninth grade books have actual chapters since they are all actually long poems or the Shakespearean play Henry V. But each book section is broken down into four parts in the study guide.
  • The Pre-Grammar/Preparation section is meant to prepare the student for reading that section. There will be something to prompt him to look for the main idea he'll be reading about or to guide him to recognize the plot. Although these sections differ a little in the different study guide, this section is always the shortest.
  • The Grammar/Presentation section helps the student get comfortable with the reading with reading notes, vocabulary words, and basic comprehension questions.
  • The Logic/Dialectic section is meant to help the student make connections with what he's learned in order to help him understand the main point of the reading. There are Socratic discussion questions that lead to a deeper understanding.
  • The Rhetoric/Expression section is designed to help the student express the theme of the passage, an idea that Memoria Press calls the "Central One Idea." In this section the student summarizes the passage, writes what he considers the theme and why, and chooses an essay to write.

Our Use of the Guide and Our Thoughts

Because Charles isn't a very avid reader, I tried to schedule the sections in a way that was doable for him. He completed the Pre-Grammar section in one day, took two days for the reading of the passage- considered a FIT in the epic poem of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight-then completed the Grammar stage, the Logic stage, and then the Rhetoric stage each in a day. Doing it this way let him complete a complete a FIT section in six days. 

Literature study

Charles used the study guide primarily on his own. There were times he had questions or things I needed to explain. But the instructions are pretty self-explanatory, and he was able to do the work that I had assigned.

Literature guide

As a parent, I liked the guide. I thought the set-up was great. I loved the way that it guided the student  through thinking about the main ideas in the reading. Going from a general thinking about the reading to learning specifics about what he's read and then to processing ideas and connecting them is such a good way of really helping them to understand what they've read more deeply.

Charles's opinion was a little different. He wasn't wild about the book itself because it was epic poetry. And, not having used a Classic style literature guide before, he wasn't wild about the type of questions in the guide.

All in all, I think that these guides are great for increasing understanding and helping students to think more deeply about the meaning of what they're reading and to make connections as they read. If a student is accustomed to the style of the guide- the Classical way of questioning and thinking- I think the student would appreciate it a little more than Charles did.


Other Review Crew members reviewed this set of study guides as well as guides from other grade levels. You can see what they thought by clicking the banner.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

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