For several years, I used the “living books approach" for reading instruction in my homeschool. Homeschoolers who use this approach use real books for reading instruction, rather than reading textbooks. The idea is to expose kids to real literature, rather than an edited selection of literature. Reading edited selections of literature are considered, by some, to be akin to eating pre-digested food. Not very tasty!
Although I was an ardent supporter of the “living books" method, one year I decided to use Bob Jones’ Reading textbook, level 6. I made this decision for several reasons:
1. My girls are only 14 months apart, and have been reading on the same level for several years. Having them share a novel never worked well, because they didn't like sharing. Similiarly, if I wanted them to each have their own, this doubled my cost.
2. Trying to keep track of the books was a hassle. Since most novels are paperback and small, they are easily misplaced.
3. Finding a complete set of reading books with a teacher's guide for all of them is next to impossible, and I didn't want to read every book in order to have an intelligent conversation with my girls about what they were reading.
I chose BJU Reading Level 6 for both my girls, even though my older child was in 7th.
This program consists of a teacher's manual, a student textbook, a workbook, and an answer key for the workbook, which is simply the workbook with the answers filled in.
My 7th grade daughter said, “I like the book, but I don't like to answer all the questions!" She was referring to the colorful and engaging text, and also to the comprehension questions that really made her think. Located in the teacher's manual, there are four types: literal (recall), critical, interpretive, and appreciative. My girls often struggle with the interpretive questions, but I don't mind. Sharpening their thinking skills, these questions can be tough. Detailed answers are given.
Each lesson has vocabulary words listed in the teacher's manual for the students to define using the glossary located in the back of the text if you choose.
The workbook has relevant exercises which are tied to the stories. Many types of literary analysis are covered, including flashbacks, imagery, analogies, literary symbols, and viewpoint, among others.
Rudyard Kipling, Lewis Carol, Robert Louis Stevenson, Emily Dickinson, Robert Browning, Francis Hodgson Burnett, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Marguerite Henry, James Thurber, and Charles Dickens are the most well-known names I recognize as I skim through the Table of Contents. Many other selections are of a Christian theme.
I have been unable to find any BJU materials at a discount. This means that all vendors sell the books for the same price. When purchasing BJU materials, try to find a vendor who offers cheap or free shipping.
I frequently hear glowing reports about BJU's materials, and I now know why. Far from being pre-digested, this is an extremely thorough program. Clearly, it has an aim of educating children in enjoying great literature, and in understanding it as well. Highly recommended.
Jennifer Thieme likes to write. She's received so much free, and useful, advice on the Internet, that she wants to return the favor. So she writes articles designed to help people, based on her experiences as a spiritual seeker, a homeschooler, a stay-at-home mom, and a bookkeeper/accountant certified in QuickBooks. Contact information for Jennifer is available at the following link: http://www.jenniferthieme.com