Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Review - Excellence in Literature: Intro to Lit

Excellence in Literature
Author: Janice Campbell

Cost:  ebook - $27, $29 + $4.95 shipping
Age: High School

My son started high school this year.  As an English teacher, myself, it was very important to me that his high school writing and literature experience be strong.  I waded through numerous different programs, curricula and textbooks trying to determine what I felt was best for him.  I didn’t want him doing American Literature, yet.  I wanted to save that for next year.  However, I did/do want him exposed to a broad array of genres, writing styles, eras, etc.  When all was said and done, I decided that Excellence in Literature – Introduction to Literature was the best for us.

What I loved about EIL’s Intro to Literature:

·        The literary choices he will be reading this year are EXCELLENT!  In addition to this, they can all easily be downloaded to our e-reader so that he has one thing to carry instead of several books to keep up with.  These are classics, so very inexpensive.  (The short stories can all be found online.)

Unit 1: Short Stories by-
Sarah Orne Jewett: A White Heron
Edgar Allen Poe: The Purloined Letter (This one is not scary, if you're concerned about that.)
Guy de Maupassant: The Diamond Necklace
O. Henry: The Ransom of Red Chief
Eudora Welty: A Worn Path
James Thurber: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne
Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain
Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw
Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell
Honors: 1984 by George Orwell

Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

·         The class is self-directed.  She tells the student what needs to be accomplished each week, but she doesn’t spell it all out for them.  The student has to learn time management, scheduling, how to read directions, etc.  This is a college-prep course, and I’m prepping my child for college.

·         She offers an Honors option!  Love it!  I want rigor.  It is very important to me to challenge my student.  The honors option includes additional reading each unit along with writing exercises.

·         The incorporated writing is strong.  Janice provides structure for what the students need to write about and then gives them the parameters (500 words etc.) for them to meet.  Then, the student runs with the writing.  My son has already learned a great deal about authors from the writings he’s done.  Additionally, he’s learning to think critically about his writing instead of being pigeon-holed into the five-paragraph essay format.

·         Each unit has Content Resources for the student to explore.  Those resources involve film, poetry, art, biography, and a plethora of other enlightening options.  My student is learning about the author, the time period, and the literary style of that era in addition to just analyzing literature. This broader approach really appeals to me.

·         Janice provides the parent with enough context to feel confident grading the writing and monitoring success as the student moves through the course.  Even if you aren’t an English teacher, you can feel good about assessing your student's knowledge and writing using her approach.

I was sold on this program even before I ever had the opportunity to review it. My son has enjoyed the reading so far.  He’s been a Verne fan for quite a while.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this year plays out as he discovers the classics.
To see reviews by other TOS Homeschool Crew members, click here.
*** I received a copy of this book free of charge as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for my honest review.


  1. I agree this is a very rigorous program!

  2. I used a similar program for my kids...
    He has some excellent books to read!

  3. I was an English Lit major, so I know exactly what you mean! I was tempted to write the papers with my daughter, who was the test-monkey for EIL, because the prompts were so thoughtful. :)

    Great review!

  4. I had thought about purchasing this before I knew they were going to be reviewed by the TOS Homeschool Crew. As it is, I was able to review this as well and love it. I think it is great.
    Very nice review :)

  5. What a great review! I don't think I mentioned enough that the program could be self directed. Thank you for giving a teacher's point of view! Most awesome!


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