Disclosure: I received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew.
I absolutely love to read and to write. However when it comes to teaching these things, I admit that I tend to struggle a bit. Maybe more than a bit? Especially with my older ones, who do not have even a touch of a writing bug, I am always looking for materials that will encourage them to become strong writers and maybe even enjoy writing one day. Having the opportunity to review Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers by Everyday Education came at the perfect time too since my oldest son is in a writing class as I type this (and not doing so well if I may be totally honest).
We received this as a pdf download and were able to get this onto our kindle quickly, to use.
This contains over 400 pages of instruction and resources broken down into two main sections. This begins with an introduction to essays and arguments; this is where we learn how to write a good essay. Quality matters. This also helps them to know the main components of an essay and the various types of essays. Here we learn how to put it all together well, to share our perspective in a respectful and informational way. For my oldest son (15) so much of this was a great refresher as we spent a few years in speech and debate (how he misses it too). I love when there are moments in learning where we say “aha”. or “I remember that.”
“Communication is the great goal that lies at the heart of all literature study and
writing. In order to communicate clearly, we must understand basic principles of
grammar, style, and usage, and learn to use them consistently. I have never met a
writer or editor who does not have an ample supply of reference materials at his or her desk.”
This handbook begins by introducing Essays and Arguments; reading through the first few pages we learn the principles that relate to this before moving into the task of Defining the Argument. We also find examples as we go along so we can see (and read) for ourselves. With my older boys, I find they enjoy having a sample nearby as they work – something they can compare their own writing too and self check as they go along.
As you develop your essay, you find additional examples, sometimes of what you should do and other times of what you should not do. It is helpful, is it not, to sometimes see what a poor statement looks like also. As we explore statements more, we are even given an exercise in identifying statements that are useful.
There is a large section that speaks to Defining Key Terms, This is good because I think even I need that refresher as I read and write. Something that really stood out to me was how she wrote:
“…the analysis of an argument requires you to pay the closest attention to any definitions, simply because a devious or inadequate or misleading definition can produce something that looks plausible but which is, in fact, problematic because the initial definition is self-serving or ambiguous.“
Is this not true of so much more than just a paper we write? The power and the impression that our words can have upon others; this is a reminder of how important it is for us to be cautious in the words that we share.
As we move further into this book, we find sample outlines for essays and research papers. These can help our less experienced writers to have a model to work with as they write. The second section of this book is very helpful also as it includes many helpful tools: basic punctuation, phrases and clauses, modifiers, logic – This is really a very thorough book!
There are also paragraphs within these pages for the purpose of rewriting to correct, also to make a sentence flow.
I also need to mention the website which is amazing. There is a very large collection of resources specifically for the study of literature and writing. They also host a library of author biographies, poetry, music, and art, as well as so many articles by professors, scholars, and other experts. You can download some great free resources for teaching classic literature at Excellence-in-Literature.com too! I know I get lost on their site whenever I go there. 🙂
We will certainly be continuing to use this as a resource as my oldest especially, moves through his higher level studies. There are many areas where he has weaknesses when it comes to writing and I do believe this can really help him to grow in this area. It is especially helpful since we can customize how and what we use based upon the needs identified.
Everyday Education is on Social Media:
For my middle and high school level students (even for myself) I find this to be a wonderful resource. This is definitely one of those materials that we can use continuously, especially as we become older and more developed in our writing requirements. Make sure to click on the graphic below to see how other members of the Review Crew used this book with their families.