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Literature Based Curriculum on the Reading List: Venn Diagram

February 28, 2013

literature-based curriculum

When you use a literature-based curriculum, the boundaries between English course descriptions, history course descriptions, and reading lists get blurry!  Instead of thinking you need to divide your books between them, think of a Venn Diagram here


The things that are ONLY in the English course description: textbooks, workbooks, curriculum.  Examples might be Sonlight Core 100, Spelling Power, Wordly Wise, Institute for Excellence in Writing High School Essay Intensive.

The things that are ONLY in the History course description: textbooks, workbooks, and curriculum.  Examples might be Sonlight Core 100, Mapping the World By Heart, History of US by Joy Hakim.

Things that go in BOTH English AND the reading list: literature read for school.  For example, The Red Badge of Courage, Call of the Wild.

Things that go in BOTH History and the reading list; biographies and historical fiction read for school.  For example, Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin or Farewell to Manzanar.

If things can go in BOTH the history course description and the English course description, I would usually put the autobiographies in History and the historical novels in English, even though they help the child learn both.

The Reading List can include everything that is considered “literature.”  For that reason, you can include literature reading for school, historical reading for school, historical novels, biographies, and all reading for fun.  I usually leave off the list anything that seems like “curriculum.”  Anthologies are collections of literature excerpts, so that’s a little harder to place.  When a reading list is already quiet long, I suggest leaving the anthology as curriculum, that is either in the English course description or the History course description (or both!) but not placed on the reading list.

Because people who use a literature-based curriculum have so many books in the reading list (and always will, no doubt!)  I’d be tempted to remove your more schoolish books (Like Foxes Book of Martyrs, Beowulf, and Famous Men of Greece) and put those kinds of books ONLY in the course description, rather than on the reading list.  But you know, that’s really just a “me” thing.  Most high school kids have 5-10 reading books a year, so there is really no need to include everything, and these things completely overlap!  Although my son Alex read Jane Austen for fun, and should have had those books on his reading list, the same books were ALSO on the reading list for Kevin, even though he didn’t think it was much fun at all!

The bottom line?  The reading list is not about high school subjects, it’s what your child read that year.  It will include some literature they read for subjects, especially when you use a literature based curriculum.  Course descriptions are not about reading for fun, but might include books that are assigned for school, that might happen to be fun to read.

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  1. Tim @ Families Again says:

    You brought out some great points. We have always been literature based with my oldest who will graduate in December. The umbrella organization that we are under requires a list of books that we are using. It has sometimes been difficult to separate what we are using for the different subjects. This has helped. Thanks.

    March 5th, 2015 at 9:45 am

  2. Assistant to The HomeScholar says:

    I’m with you, Tim!
    I too was thankful when Lee cleared it up!
    Assistant to The HomeScholar

    March 7th, 2015 at 6:39 pm

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