Literature study is often discussed in homeschool circles - how to do it, what books to use, how many books should you read in a year, helpful resources for analysis - the list of questions can get quite long. I've done my share of questioning and reading and discussing!
Up to this point the only 'literature analysis' we've done is a few light questions ("What was your favorite part?", "Was there a character that you really liked?", etc.) and a bit of written and oral narration. But, for TJ's 4th grade year I figured it was time to start something a bit more formal.
She's been reading quite well for awhile (though it isn't her favorite thing to do) and she'd often mention something she was reading. When she expressed an interest in reading The Chronicles of Narnia series together I thought it would make a fabulous first series for discussion. We've listened to the books a few times so she was very familiar with the stories, something I think is important for kids who are just beginning to discuss books.
So this year we've been reading through The Chronicles of Narnia and it's been a fabulous journey. We've been taking our time, reading through the books and then discussing them or doing a project or two. It's been fairly informal and unstructured (which is something different for me!).
How we covered each book:
- We'd read a few chapters once or twice a week (TJ was still doing other reading assignments so we didn't schedule this for every day)
- After reading we would talk about the chapters, using some of our resource books (listed below)
- When we had finished our discussion we would add any relevant information to our Narnia/England timeline and our story chart
It was a very simple to do and didn't require too much pre-planning. I did read each book while TJ was also reading so it was always fresh in my mind (which makes it much easier to discuss).
Resources we used:
- The Chronicles of Narnia box set
- Roar! A Christian Family Guide to the Chronicles of Narnia
- Chronicles of Narnia Comprehension Guide from Veritas Press
- Ready Readers: Narnia from Center for Lit
Each of the resources we used fit so well together. Roar! was just all-around fun (TJ loved the quizzes) and had some great content for parents. It really enhanced the spiritual aspect of the stories. The comprehension guide from Veritas Press had some engaging activities (we generally skipped the comprehension questions). Both Roar! and the Veritas guide had great resources for keeping a timeline. The Ready Readers guide was so great for leading the discussion and talking about the various parts of the story. TJ learned about all the elements of a story while creating her own story charts for each book. (While it isn't absolutely necessary, Teaching the Classics is a perfect introduction for homeschool moms who want to use the Ready Readers series.)
When should you start literature analysis?
Here are a few points to consider:
- When your child can read well (chapter books) with good comprehension
- When they can answer simple questions about the books they are reading (characters, details, basic plot, etc.)
- When they are able to tell you the basic plot of the story (with guidance)
You can do more informal literature discussion when kids are younger, but keeping it light and easy is very important. We don't discuss every single book TJ reads. I don't want her to think that every book she reads is a puzzle to be sorted out. I just want her to enjoy reading and learn the basics of literature analysis so she'll be prepared for more in-depth study when she's older. Finding balance is key.
What books do you use for beginning literature analysis?