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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
about the book
The Homeschool Diner's Guide to

Literature-Based Learning for Homeschoolers

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

There are several homeschool methods and curricula that recommend
avoiding textbooks and worktexts where ever possible, and using works
of high-quality literature in their place.  Eclectic Homeschoolers may also
choose to use real books, where ever practical, to keep learning fresh,
fun, and interesting.

"Quality" in a book is defined by literary excellence, and includes "the
classics", "real" books (non-fiction or fiction) written by respected authors
about subjects in which they are truly interested and knowledgeable,
relevant ancient texts, and original source material, such as historic
eyewitness accounts, journals and correspondences.  "High-quality
literature" is referred to in different homeschool methods as "real books",
"Living Books" and "Great Books".  "Low-quality literature" is variously
termed "dumbed-down", dry, low-interest, and useless "twaddle" not
worth one's time.   

High-quality literature offers a rich tapestry from which to learn
vocabulary, grammar, and word usage and sets an example for good
writing skills and strategies.  Biographies, historic fiction, popular best
sellers, and ancient texts are an excellent way to learn about history,
geography, philosophy, and cultural studies.  Check out resources in the
Learning Social Studies thru Literature section.

Many find it surprising that math and science concepts can be learned --
from preschool thru high school topics -- by reading interesting books
written by real experts.  But it is true!  Children's books, chapter books,
biographies, popular best-sellers, online magazines, and journal articles
can enhance the understanding of complex topics in science and math.
Check out the Homeschool Diner's
Literature-based Science section.

There are two very helpful Yahoo! Groups dedicated to parents who wish
to use living books to teach wherever possible:  
The Living Math
Forum  Yahoo! Group, which has an accompanying website called
Living Math!, and the Living Science Yahoo! Group

Well-chosen books can make any topic "come alive" and lead a student
to be interested in further research.  Most importantly, high-quality
literature promotes a desire for independent reading, which is, of course,
the first step to becoming a "Life-Long Learner".    

A Literature Based approach to homeschooling is an excellent choice for
children and parents who already love to read and write.  This may not
be the best choice for use with very active hands-on learners or with a
child who struggles with reading or writing, unless parents are willing to
make major adjustments and adaptations in the methods to meet their
child's needs, interests, and abilities.

Curriculum Suppliers and Other Resources:

Charlotte Mason Method - a Christian-focused literature-based  
approach to learning developed by Charlotte Mason in 19th Century
England, and introduced as a homeschooling method in 1987 by
Schaeffer Macaulay
in her book, "For the Children's Sake".  A more
recent review of the method is presented in the book,
"A Charlotte
Mason Home Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art
of Learning"
by Karen Andreola.

The method recommends using "classics" and other "real" books written
by quality authors, in their entirety, rather than standard textbooks or
"dumbed-down" reading passages.   Instead of learning thru lectures,
children are required to narrate back what they have learned from
reading or observation.  

Formal lessons are delayed until age 6 and written narration is not
required until a child is age 10 - 12.  Children use "copy work" and
dictation to practice handwriting.  History is taught chronologically, using
historic fiction, and a history time-line is constructed.  Nature walks are
encouraged, and a nature notebook and personal journal are kept.  
Emphasis is on literature, art, music, poetry, bible-study, and history.  No
workbooks, study guides, tests or competition.  Recommends short,
focused lessons,  that aim to instill a love of learning.

"Let the parent ask "Why?" and the child produce the answer, if he can.
After he has turned the matter over in his mind, there is no harm in telling
him - and he will remember it - the reason why." -- Charlotte Mason
Ambleside Online  - A free Charlotte Mason online curriculum is
available at  

Ruth Beechick - in her book "You CAN Teach Your Child Successfully"
educator Ruth Beechick describes her approach to a Christian-focused,
literature-based, eclectic style of homeschooling that encourages unit
studies and pulling together curriculum from the library.  She also wrote
the "Three "R's" Series" for teaching K - 3rd at home.  Her books include
when to teach various topics within the general subject areas.

Five in a Row - by Jane Claire Lambert -  (preK - 6) a literature-based
unit study approach,  provides 5-day lesson plans and activities for each
book covered,  for ages 2 - 12,   arithmetic not included, optional Bible
supplement available

Moving beyond the Page - (currently K - 3) a literature-based
approach, provides lesson plans and activity sheets that are built around
four themes each year, incorporates a variety of children's books (fiction
and non-fiction), that are included in the curriculum packages

Great Books Academy  - (preK -12) a literature-based liberal arts
curriculum used in some charter cyber schools,  can be used
independently or by enrolling in the academy, also issues high school
diplomas,  an ability-based curriculum that allows for mix-and-match of  
grade-levels,  a "real world" approach to math is taught in lower grades,  
science is minimal (with a "poetic" approach)  before 7th grade,  Greek or
Latin is taught beginning in 1st grade, history is taught chronologically,
using historical fiction and (in upper grades) ancient texts,  children's
classics are read,  optional online discussion groups available.  

Oak Meadow - (K - 12) a Waldorf-inspired, literature-based, "delayed
academics" curriculum,  can be used independently, or by enrolling with
teacher support,  if used independently - parent needs to prepare for the
week by reading ahead and gathering supplies,  encourages hands-on
projects,  no workbooks,  child can pick assignment options based on
learning style,  emphasizes journaling, arts and crafts,  story-telling, and  
music,  strives to educate the "whole child",  online high school option
available  -

Sonlight Curriculum  -- (preK-12) a widely used, Evangelical
Christian-focused, literature-based liberal arts curriculum, also discusses
other beliefs in their "world studies" units,  provides "Instructor's Guides"
to implement daily lessons (minimizes parent prep time), complete and
partial curriculum packages available,  language arts includes copy-work
and dictation, children's classics (including many Newbery Honor books)
and historic fiction are read, offers a choice of three math curriculum
options,  science consists of  pre-packaged science kits, an advanced
reader option is available,  doesn't require hands-on projects and
activities, no quizzes or tests,  80% of the materials are reusable with
other students  

Goddess Moon Circles Academy - (preK - 12) a pagan-focused
curriculum with an emphasis on literature and the humanities, can be
teacher or student led, offers full package or partial "framework" option,  
uses online texts and packaged curriculum, uses Spectrum Math and
standard science texts in upper grades  

Home2Teach -- a nice guide to literary analysis, with example

An Old-Fashioned Education -- links to hundreds of free online texts
(fiction and non-fiction) that were published before 1923 and are now in
"the Public Domain" (have no copyright restrictions), includes history,
social studies, language arts, math, science and nature, drama and
public speaking

The Baldwin Online Children's Literature Project - complete online
texts of books now in the public domain (1880 to 1922), a wealth of
material, including: Nursery Rhymes, Fables, Folk Tales, Myths, Legends
and Hero Stories, Literary Fairy Tales, Bible Stories, Nature Stories,
Biography, History, Fiction, Poetry, and more, includes titles commonly
used in Charlotte Mason and Waldorf homeschooling, plus nature stories
by Clara Dillingham Pierson (for Froebel Kindergarten)

EDSITEment -- free lesson plans based on various and diverse works of
literature, a project of the US National Endowment for the Humanities
"It is books that are the key to the wide world; if you can't do anything else,
read all that you can." ~~ Jane Hamilton (1957 – )

"Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at
all."  -- Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)