Hewitt's Lightning Literature guides use full-length novels, autobiographies, plays, essays, short stories, and poems to teach deep reading and composition skills. Unlike some literature programs that take a scatter-shot approach (where none of the literature seems connected) or that try to include too much into one book, Lightning Literature guides focus on a few classics in depth, in a systematic manner. (from Hewitt Homeschooling’s website)
We reviewed the 7th grade level of Lightning Literature. This is a year-long course that includes a teacher guide, student guide, and student workbook. Several other books are required: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, All Creatures Great and Small, The Story of My Life (Helen Keller), and Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children. These may be purchased from Hewitt if desired. We already own several of the books and our library has the rest, so we didn’t need to purchase them.
Lightning Literature uses literary works to teach literary elements, such as plot elements, foreshadowing, and elements of poetic language. The writing elements reinforce these concepts and teach the students to use them in their own writing. Comprehension questions and vocabulary are included for each literary selection. The workbook covers topics such as outlining, writing from note cards, writing poetry, and grammar.
Each unit teaches concepts, then provides workbook pages that reinforce the concepts and have the student outlining and writing creatively, then concludes with writing assignments that build on the teaching and workbook assignments. I am very pleased with the way that everything works together rather than being random assignments. For example, Chapter 2 includes:
- a review of plot, exposition, rising action, climax, etc. from Chapter 1
- a lesson on subplots
- a mini lesson on outlining that uses the literature selection from Chapter 1
- writing from note cards
- fact and opinion
- pronouns and antecedents
- writing for a particular audience
- writing exercises that use the concepts of subplot, parts of a story, and writing endings to stories
I like the literature selections chosen for this course. I think they are important works for students to be familiar with and are appropriate for the grade level. Emily enjoyed the first two selections—Ricki-Tikki-Tavi, by Rudyard Kipling, and Tom Sawyer, and I am especially looking forward to the upcoming poetry unit, since Emily has never done a formal study of poetry.
Thus far, I am very pleased with this course. With Emily in middle school, I want her to start “analyzing” literature rather than merely reading it. This is one area that I’m not very comfortable teaching myself, but Lightning Literature is laid out very clearly and is easy to teach. (Actually, it is pretty much self-teaching.) I think Emily has found it quite easy, even though I know she is learning new concepts. I especially like the way the writing assignments are tied into the literary lessons. This program will be a big help as Emily moves toward high school and needs to start writing more analytical essays.
The 7th grade Lightning Lit set, including all five reading books, sells for $91.73. Each of the three manuals is available separately for $20. Additional courses are available for 8th grade and high school levels.
Please visit the TOS Crew Blog to read more reviews of Lightning Literature and other Hewitt Homeschooling Resources.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a free product in order to write this review. All opinions are my own.