3 Reasons to Include Literary Criticism in Your Homeschool Literature Curriculum - And an Easy to Use Resource to Help You Do It

Literature, I admit, is my favorite subject. I loved it in school. And I love teaching and learning it with my kids in our homeschool. There is magic in a good book. 

Sometimes I think that we get so busy analyzing literature that we lose the magic. But I do think that teaching our kids to analyze, to evaluate what they’re reading is important. Literary criticism is the practice of evaluating and interpreting literature. And it’s a critical practice to include as a part of your homeschool literature curriculum.

Disclosure: I received a free curriculum as well as compensation for this post. All opinions are always my own.

We recently had the opportunity to try out an awesome high school literature curriculum from Common Sense Press. As a part of their Learning Language Arts Through Literature series, there is a great high school course that includes literary criticism: The Gold Book- Literary Criticism. 

In this post I’m sharing three reasons why literary criticism is so important, as well as how this curriculum we’ve been using teaches it. (And make sure you check out the discount and the giveaway below!)

A language arts curriculum that teaches literary criticism is important to prepare kids who are going to college.

I’ll preface this point with my personal conviction that not all kids need to go to college. There are some students who will go on to work after high school or take apprenticeships. And college doesn’t have to be an automatic step in life after high school.

But if your students are headed to college, or if they are just preparing in case their road leads to college, it is vital that they know how to critically evaluate what they read and how to write about it. I’ve now had two kids in college- one in a four-year liberal arts school and one in a technical college- and both have learned that their writing skills have been key in helping them to be successful.
The Literary Criticism course from Common Sense Press is written to prepare students for college level writing. Throughout the course, students will write a five-paragraph essay, a five-page essay, and a ten-page essay, as well as completing other writing assignments. Practicing these will be a major step on the path to preparing kids for college level writing.

Including literary criticism in your homeschool literature curriculum develops critical thinking.

Critical thinking is much more than just being able to answer basic comprehension questions. It involves being able to discuss and evaluate what you’re reading and to make connections between the new material and what you already know. Whether a student is planning to attend college or not, critical thinking is a lifelong learning skill. Knowing how to think about and evaluate written material can equip students to keep learning throughout life whatever their path.

Students who are using the Learning Language Arts Through Literature Gold Book are not just answering basic comprehension questions about the materials they read. Instead they are given discussion questions that encourage deeper thinking- questions that don’t just answer the “what” but also explore the “why.”
Also students aren’t only reading and evaluating short stories and novels, they’re learning to do this independently- which is another key in developing their critical thinking skills. The book is set up for the student to read each day’s lesson and complete work independently. This, of course, makes things easier for the homeschooling mom, but it also teaches high school students to be independent learners and to think critically about what they’re learning.

Teaching kids to evaluate what they’re reading can help them to know how to evaluate what they are reading, watching, or listening to lifelong.

As parents we set limits on what our kids can watch or read or listen to. But as our kids get older, they need to learn to evaluate these things for themselves. They need to know how to determine if something is good or worthwhile to consume. And if they’ve never been taught how to do this, it’s going to be really difficult for them to make good decisions. The skills that we give our kids when they are learning about literary criticism can be used to help them to evaluate what they are reading, watching, and listening to.

When students are using the Literary Criticism course from Common Sense Press, they are going to be evaluating a variety of material- short stories, sample essays, and novels. These opportunities for evaluating give students the opportunity to learn how to think through different media that they come in contact with. Questions and assignments throughout the course guide them to think through this material. And knowing how to do this can help them evaluate media later on in their lives as well.

More About This Language Arts Curriculum That Teaches Literary Criticism: Learning Language Arts Through Literature

Learning Language Arts Through Literature is a series for 1st grade through high school that does exactly what the name says. It teaches language arts skills using real books. Real books are more compelling, more interesting for students. So it makes sense to use them to teach skills from phonics and beginning reader skills to grammar and vocabulary to literary criticism.

The Gold Book for high school uses a variety of short stories as well as four novels and two plays to teach literary criticism skills to high school students. The curriculum comes with a reader that includes the short stories as well as Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. It also includes the student workbook. 
The workbook consists of thirty-six lessons- one for each week of the school year. And each lesson consists of five days. Students independently read and complete assignments. At the back of the student workbook is a Teacher Section that provides answers and gives enough information to allow parents to discuss the materials that are being read.

Why you need the Learning Language Arts Through Literature Gold Book for your high schooler:

~ Students can work independently. Resources that the kids can use independently not only prepare them for lifelong learning, they also are a huge help to homeschool mamas- especially mamas with multiple kids!

~ Your student is going to be prepared for writing as well as for reading and evaluating great literature. Those writing skills are critical if your child is planning on college. But they are also important for any lifelong career and learning.

~ The Gold Book introduces some great short stories, novels, and plays that you want to make sure your student reads. There are so many amazing books and stories and plays and poems and essays and other writings in the world that you can’t possibly read them all. (That doesn’t stop me from trying!) So it’s nice to have a curriculum that picks some of those to focus on. Novels like The Count of Monte Cristo, plays like Macbeth, and short stories like “The Pit and the Pendulum” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” are just a few amazing reads covered!

Through August 31, 2020 you can get 15% off when you purchase…and you can enter the amazing giveaway here to win one teacher/student set from Learning Language Arts Through Literature as well as one set of the Great Science Adventures from Common Sense Press (Through August 24, 2020)

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