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    Is there an explanation somewhere of why the particular literature selections have been chosen?

    Yes! Here is our subject overview on literature (kind of an apology for where we stand as a company):

    • Traditional favorites and the classics. There is a shared heritage that every child needs to be familiar with, allusions and references you see quoted in other places.
    • 3-4 books a year. We encourage students to read lots of books, and they are going to do that, but for their reading curriculum, we are delving deeply, living with the books, immersing students so that they will remember the experience.
    • Age-appropriate choices. Literature is not tied to a particular time period or theme. If we tie our literature to ancient Greece or Rome that we are studying in history, we will miss the traditional classic books like Charlotte’s Web, Lassie, Anne of Green Gables, and Treasure Island.
    • Developing high standards and an appreciation for quality. If you expose children to quality, then they are sort of inoculated against trash. They have higher standards. They are lifted up by noble and good characters.
    • Upper School students are reading books for adults. We have to be careful with Shakespeare and Chaucer because the notes in many of the books are vulgar and too graphic. We use Ignatius Press when possible because they are safe. We begin Shakespeare in the eighth grade and read Dante’s Divine Comedy in its entirety in eleventh grade.
    • Poetry. Our grammar school students study several poems tied to their literature, science, or history each year, using Poetry for the Grammar School. In eighth grade, students study American poetry and short stories. In ninth-twelfth grades, students study British poetry chronologically.
    • Limited American literature. Since America is such a young country, we don’t have the long years of beautiful literature that the British have. We do read The Scarlet Letter, and we have study guides available for To Kill a Mockingbird and Little Women, but we don’t have time for them at HLS.
    • Added benefit is test scores. Our students score very high in reading and composition on standardized tests. This is not the driving force behind our choices for literature or the way we implement it, but it is an added benefit.
    • Deliberate choices. Our literature curriculum was not chosen randomly. We have spent years fine-tuning it, and the decisions we have made were based on what we ultimately decided were the most important books to expose our students to. There is so much good literature out there to choose from, and we can’t read it all, but we hope to give our students a love of reading and the skill to read deliberately and with discernment.
    This may be more than you wanted to see! But it's what I use at conferences to explain our philosophy.



      I have not read any of these books except for Little House, so the violence in some of these makes me question what’s the “good and beautiful” in some of these, for example King Arthur. I was hoping there was a list of what was trying to be conveyed in each one.



        It is hard to get away from violence in classic books. It starts as early as fairy tales (Red Riding Hood, Hansel & Gretel). The way I handled this with my children was to always read the books first, and then make my own personal decision about whether they were too sensitive for my children (and I did have one sensitive child). As far as King Arthur goes, the value in that book is that students need to have a familiarity with the legend. The Holy Grail, chivalry, the round table - all these things are prevalent in literature. They are references that will enhance students' education as they move forward - just like we teach Greek mythology so that students will get all those references in Homer, Vergil, and Shakespeare.

        But you are homeschooling, so if you don't feel you want to expose your children to some of our choices, you have the flexibility to switch them out (we do have several other options now). My best advice would be to pre-read and make that decision for your family.

        Last edited by tanya; 04-16-2020, 09:32 AM.


          GingerG I think it goes back to this quote (based on GK Chesterton’s sentiments, but said by someone else): “Fairy tales are more than true — not because they tell us dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten.”

          I think that sentiment is especially true for our sensitive and/or anxious children. In proper and incremental doses (based on the child’s current threshold), literature helps them see that there is hope and victory against evil. That is life-giving to them. So many people from traumatic backgrounds have said that literature gave them hope because it showed them that good can and does triumph.
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          DS18: Graduated and living his dream in the automotive trades
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            Jen...that is such a perfect quote. And it reminds me of what my 10 year old and talked about on Tuesday in her Lassie lesson. We had to talk about the similarities and difference between instinct and imagination. At first, she was convinced of the greater helpfulness instinct provides to avoid danger and escape dangerous situations. But as we talked, she came to realize that imagination is what can help us endure those difficult situations we can’t get out of by allowing us to imagine something better - whether it comes through memory of a past good, or expectation of a future one. Without imagination, there is no hope. And what helps develop imagination? Stories...especially fantastical, legendary stories.

            16th Year HSing; 10th Year with MP
            DD, 19, Homeschool grad; college sophomore
            DS, 17
            DD, 15
            DD, 13
            DD, 11
            DD, 9
            DD, 7
            DS, 2


              Piggy backing on that, my eldest (9) and I were reading Isaiah in our morning devotion. At the end, I asked her why we have to read chapter after chapter of God's hand of judgment, destruction, and all the ways he will reconcile the sin of His chosen people (and then the people he stirred up against them because of their vain bragging). She knew that it felt good to know that sin has consequences, but even more it helps the innocent who have been oppressed, manipulated, falsely maligned, sinned against and imprisoned for their adherence to godly virtue know that there is ultimate justice. God cares for the widow, the orphan, the poor, the murdered. (i.e., those who have been sinned against). Without knowing what we're saved from, how do we even know how great that goodness is? Jesus is called: He who knew no sin. The Gospels are a litany of contrasts between people who think they know what goodness is (man's ideas) compared to what God calls goodness. Jesus lives out the embodiment of goodness by contrasting it with the gospel of man.

              Children's literature is usually a gentle way of enumerating what all humans struggle with: sin. What I like about fiction is that I can always stand on the story being made up. But as children grow up and see their own sinful heart, they can receive comfort that it's never too late to do the right thing. Many of MP's chosen books deal with a typical child's struggle to be honest (LHBW), have integrity (Farmer Boy), apologize, ask forgiveness, work hard in the face of horrible adversity and disability (Prairie School), have a good attitude or see the silver lining when things are beyond your control. Personally, I loved MP2 lit for this very reason. I loved The Gardener! These are dramatized events of real time periods that give children inspiration to choose hope, determination, grit, optimism, and restoration. I

              If a child is choosing to be good when everyone else around him is good, what example is that? Jesus says that even criminals are good to those who are good to them. Even the Greek Myths helped my daughter understand why Jesus came when He did and said what He said to these Romans who accused the Christians of being atheists (godless). Their gods were petty, human-like, prone to revenge, limited, needy and fallible. Our God stands in stark contrast to all of that. There is a place and time for all of humanity's woes to come to light, and I'm glad MP put a lot of thought into the right time to roll out these great microcosms of reality.

              As a parent of a child with special sensitivities, I am glad to be following the SImply Classical track where these considerations are taken into greater consideration. Many of the books chosen for the traditional track are delayed for students who need more time to parse out the differences between fiction and reality.
              Mama of 2, teacher of 3

              SY 21/22
              5A w/ SFL & CC Narrative class

              Completed MPK, MP1 Math & Enrichment, MP2, 3A, 4A
              SC B, SC C, SC1 (Phonics/Math), SC2's Writing Book 1