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Mary Walz

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    Mary Walz


    I am wondering if you could tell me your reasons for using literature books rather than a traditional reader of short literary works? Right now we use the Elson readers.

    Thank you very much for your time.

    Mary Walz

    Hi Mary! You have asked a really great question, as it touches on one of the key differences between Memoria Press and other curriculum choices. You have also happened to ask it right in the middle of the yearly MP Teacher Training Conference, so there are many regular responders being very busy with all day conference fun! So I will try to give it a shot, and hopefully it will be a start!

    A difference about classical education is that there is a very strong sense of direction in the choices that are made. We look forward to what we want to develop in our children, and then determine what is the best route to get there. For instance, the goal of classical education is a free human person, prepared to fill any role in society. With this goal in mind, history has shown the best way to do that is through the liberal arts, so that is the foundation of the curriculum. Applied to literature, we use the same process.

    What is the goal of literature studies? I would describe it as the ability to read, comprehend, and "own" the great works of our western civilization, with several of the primary being the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the Aeneid. Beyond those, the list extends to Dante, Shakespeare, and such. These are the texts that have historically been the formative and foundational works that everyone studied, so that is our goal. Like any goal, we must work up to it incrementally, by reading progressively more challenging works in their entirety. So we have three or four great works a year, all selected for their high quality stories, their age-appropriateness, and for their "staying power" if you will.

    These are not the only books children are exposed to over the year, as the role of reading aloud is very important and there are additional lists of books for that purpose, but as far as being able to really study literature, the number is kept small on purpose.

    I hope that helps a bit to begin your familiarity with the Memoria approach. You can also look through the Articles section of the website, as there are numerous articles about teaching literature there.

    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



      Great question. In the kindergarten grade, as it is our learning to read grade, we use phonetic based readers. These are the best focused practice for those phonics taught in their lessons. However, the children are introduced to classic children's authors and illustrators through our read aloud books. Since they are primary age, there are many classic children's books that teach the virtue, truth and beauty for them to enjoy. In the enrichment program we expose them to classic artists, artwork, music, and composers. Many of the poets and poems in the readers you mentioned are introduced in our primary curriculum in the poetry section.

      In both first and second grade the read alouds, poetry and other enrichment are chosen for the same reason.

      Our reading books in first and second grade move onto real literature from the phonetic readers. We chose great children's authors rather than say Shakespeare at this level because Shakespeare, Poe etc can be read at an older level and enjoyed but these great classic children's books are enjoyed less in the older grades. However the authors in the readers you use are eventually covered in our curriculum when the child can read and study those works in their entirety.

      Michelle Tefertiller