Have you always wanted to read the Great Books? Now is your chance! With Excellence in Literature, you and your student can enjoy reading, understanding, and analyzing the greatest literature of all time. Excellence in Literature presents a feast of great literature along with the context information you need in order to fully understand it.
These challenging, self-directed courses introduce students to full-length great literature in its historical context, while developing skills in writing and literary analysis. English I and II provide foundational skills; English III and IV offer a chronological survey of American and British literature, and English V focuses on European literature.
You may learn more about how I chose the literature for Excellence in Literature in this blog post.
An Honors Track, with additional readings and writing, for each course encourages preparation for AP or CLEP exams. Some students who have taken this track have been permitted advanced placement in college based upon the material covered. Students who complete five years of Excellence in Literature have the potential of earning 24-30 hours of college credit through testing.
Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing co-published the American and British Literature levels, and has created a brief video to tell you more about about the curriculum. He discusses only those two levels but all five levels are the same format. They do not have to be used in order, but can be mixed or matched to other curriculum you are using (American Literature with American History, for example). Here's Andrew:
The literature-based unit format of Excellence in Literature offers students the opportunity to grow thoroughly familiar with some of the greatest writers and literary works of all time. There are nine four-week units in each level.
Study and writing for each unit is centered around a full-length focus text— a novel, play, or poem— chosen for its significance to the period of literature being studied. A reasonable number of context works, including poetry, short biographies, art, music, videos, and online resources, are selected to enhance the student’s understanding of the focus text, its author, and the literary period in which it was created.
There is an emphasis on the analytical essay, which offers the opportunity to perfect the standard writing process of planning, drafting, and revising. Shorter assignments in various forms will round out each unit.
What's Special About Excellence in Literature?
Reviewer Cathy Duffy says:
Nothing captures the spirit of an age like great literature. These books that have stood the test of time allow readers to briefly share in another's life, and to learn from his or her successes or failures. Students who study literature in context develop a firm foundation in language arts and humanities, and are well equipped for wrestling with the important ideas and worldviews they will meet throughout life.
It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature. Henry James, 1843-191
What's in each volume of EIL?
Here's a sample table of contents. You may view the focus-text titles in each level by visiting the links in the sidebar to your left.
The book is designed to be used directly by the student, with very little help from the parent or writing mentor, so the first part of the book explains how to use it, and each unit is laid out with complete resource links and week-by-week assignment instructions. The Formats and Models chapter contains complete instructions and samples for the approach papers and essays the student will write, and the evaluation rubric will help the student and the evaluator determine the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of writing.
I offer a free sample unit so you can see how the assignments are structured. Each unit has the same basic structure, so that the student knows what to expect and how to do everything. The explanations at the beginning of the book are long enough to be clear, but not so long as to be overwhelming, and the Formats and Models chapter, along with the Glossary, assures that students will be able to find out what they need to know. To get the sample, just click the link below, and the PDF will download immediately to your computer.
A special rubric using an evaluation model similar to the 6-Traits model makes evaluation simple for writing mentors-- including parents, tutors, or co-op leaders. You can find a link to a site with details of the Excellence in Literature evaluation on the FAQ page.
For parents who would like extra help with evaluations, I suggest visiting the website of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors . This organization offers a database of writing evaluators who may be able to help with evaluating Excellence in Literature assignments. When you visit the NAIWE website, search for evaluators that work with academic writing. You can be sure that your students are getting the in-depth, college-prep reading and writing assignments that you want them to have, as well as objective, accurate assessments. It works!
My husband, Donald, and I homeschooled our four sons from preschool into college, and I have coached other students in writing. During the development of Excellence in Literature, I taught the courses online for several years in order to test them on real students and refine them. That was a learning experience for all of us! My goal is to help students develop wisdom and virtue through the study of great literature, and to prepare them for the challenges of college-level thinking and writing.
Do you have more questions? Visit the individual pages for each book (linked from the left sidebar) and the Frequently Asked Questions pages. There are even a few questions answered on my blog.
In addition to Excellence in Literature, my books include Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler's Guide to High School Paperwork, Evaluate Writing the Easy Way!, and Get a Jump Start on College! A Practical Guide for Teens.
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