Learning Language Arts Through Literature is an easy to use high school homeschool literature curriculum.
I have been homeschooling for over 12 years now, my oldest graduating this last spring. (From both high school and with a two-year tech degree!) If I had to choose the one most important lesson I have learned these past 12 years it is that creating your own educational path is both easier and more rewarding than attempting to fit into the world’s expectations of what should be done, how, and when.
Going my own way gives me greater flexibility to serve the needs of my children and our family as a community. In fact, it also allows the ability to serve our larger community because it frees us from the false thinking that we must spend X amount of time to become competent (or excellent) at Y.
I love my freedom as a homeschooler, and I am also a bit of a curriculum nerd. I love curriculum and I love writing curriculum reviews to help other homeschoolers figure out which curriculum will best serve their needs. But I don’t always use curriculum the way it is designed, because sometimes, even with a curriculum, I want to do it my own way.
When I had the opportunity to review LLATL (Learning Language Arts Through Literature) Gold (High School Level) American Literature, I was excited to use this resource completely differently.
I was compensated for my time writing this post. All opinions are my own and I am not required to write a positive review of the product.
Learning Language Arts Through Literature is a full language arts curriculum by Common Sense Press. The program is available for all grade levels.
Things I love about Common Sense Press Language Arts
- Cost – this is one of the least expensive language arts programs you will find.
- Open and go – there is a book, you open it, and you start learning, it’s pretty much that simple.
- Focus on classic literature.
- No fluff – both in materials and assignments the program sticks to the basics without compromising quality.
How I am using LLATL Gold – American Literature
This program is designed to be used by a student independently. There is a teacher section in the back of the book where you can find the answer key to questions and tips for using the program with your student. I want you to understand that the program at this level can be used with very little teacher time needed. But that is not how I decided to use it.
One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that we can learn together. As my kids get older and develop different interests and aptitudes, most of their learning becomes independent. However, one of the things that gives me joy is gathering everyone together. With older kids, read-aloud time is the primary way we learn together, and that means literature. The last few years we have mostly read fun fantasy novels.
But this year we are going to read American literature together. I am using LLATL Gold as my guide to our read-aloud time this year. This will conveniently give several of my children (3 to be exact) their needed American literature credit for high school. For my younger two, age 11 & 12, it will expand their vocabulary and reading comprehension while listening to these stories. I find kids can enjoy listening to books that are well beyond their reading level.
Every morning we start our day with read-aloud time. In our family, none of us are ready to think too hard early in the AM. So we all curl up in the living room, mom living her dream by starting each day with her coffee and books. For now, I get to share those books with my kids. Even the dogs join us, enjoying the morning cuddles, or pestering a child to throw a ball while mom reads. It’s idealistic. It’s picturesque. But it’s also our real morning every day.
After I read the literature, the younger boys will be free to go outside and run around like maniacs while I use the questions and assignments found in Learning Language Arts through Literature with my high school level kids. I am using the questions as discussion/conversation starters. They will, of course, complete any writing assignments, such as essays, short stories, or poems on their own. But then we will share our work with each other.
The Read-Aloud Chair of Honor.
Learning together in a supportive and curiously engaged environment makes learning more fun. It builds connections and community. It wakes us up to beauty we may not have seen on our own. This is why I insist that we always learn something together. (Even if that just means putting on a documentary during lunch because we all have a crazy schedule that year.)
What do you need to use the LLATL Gold book – American Literature?
Okay, so this program is not a kit, it is just one book that contains the student questions, assignments, and teacher key. This is one of the reasons it is so cost effective. So you will need to purchase any of the literature that you don’t have lying around the house already. But don’t worry, the cost is not prohibitive, and you can always use the library instead if you are on a tight budget.
Here are the books you will need to go with the program:
- Great American Short Stories edited by Wallace and Mary Stegner ($3.85)
- The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane ($3.85)
- The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway ($3.85)
- The Pearl by John Steinbeck ($3.85)
- The Mentor Book of Major American Poets edited by Oscar Williams and Edwin Honig ($3.85)
- A Bible (the text uses the New American Standard Version) – I think this is optional, if you are secular you may choose not to use it at all, and Bible verses are free and easy to find online if you do want to read a certain passage.
Total cost of these books from a used online bookstore, excluding the Bible, (I used discoverbooks.com as my reference) is about $20.
Is LLATL suitable for secular homeschoolers?
While all the texts in this literature program are secular, many of the stories raise questions that can be answered in the context of faith. Can this be used by secular homeschoolers? It is hard to completely divorce faith from literature in early American history, I think this curriculum would be fairly easy to adapt for a secular homeschool, but there are some questions that assume you are teaching from a Christian standpoint and you would need to let your student know ahead of time that they don’t need to answer those. It is not a preachy curriculum, which I appreciate, but it is not completely secular either.
The reading selections are guided by the literary terms, vocabulary, and concepts high school student need to understand.
Of course, there are many other great American novels that you can add to your study of American literature, and I already have several I am planning to add to our read-aloud story time for the year. The beauty of the curriculum though, is that kids will be able to dive into the vocabulary and concepts, experiencing them at work in great writing, instead of just memorizing dry terms disconnected from a student’s experience.
When you are shopping for high school homeschool literature curriculum remember your student will learn more if the material is interesting. Avoid dry, and dive in with them if you want to see them get deeply engaged in the topic.