Updated: Jun 15, 2020
I'm going to admit something that some people might find shocking, coming from me since I love books and love reading. Here it is: I don't care for many of the 'classics' that public school has on their curriculum. Yes, yes. I know. They are classics. That really doesn't help me enjoy them, though. They just aren't my thing. If they are yours, then that's awesome!
So now that I've made that confession, let's move on to the more positive. I know my son doesn't enjoy those books, either, even in movie form. Since we are homeschooling, I decided that we would make homeschooling fit with us. Instead of books like Of Mice and Men or Lord of the Flies, my son has been reading my books off my own bookshelf. The novels that I have read so many times that I've read copies to pieces and had to buy replacements.
He's now at the end of 10th grade and I chose to have him read One for the Morning Glory by John Barnes. This book has been read by myself so many times that the covers have fallen apart and off. The pages are loose and curled in places. It's such a fascinating and engaging story! Even as I was skimming through the book, looking for things to use for vocabulary words and teaching points, I would get sucked into reading it. Mr. Barnes does an excellent job of making you love some of the characters and hate the others, not to mention the characters that you hate to love. I could gush for an hour on this book, and still have more to say, but I don't want to give away any spoilers.
A little bit of detail on the novel itself (no spoilers); it's a fairy tale in which the characters make many references to the fact that they think or know that it is a fairy tale they are in. It's also got a bit of violence in it, like murder and war, so if you are thinking of having your child read it, make sure they have the maturity to handle it and are not overly sensitive to such things. My own son probably could have handled this as young as 11 or 12, but some children may need a few extra years.
As for the Study Unit that I've put together for the book; there are chapter quizzes in the booklet, with 3-7 questions per chapter. I have my son read a chapter and do each quiz as he finishes reading. Some of these are basic comprehension questions, to make sure he was reading and paying attention, and others ask the student's opinions of the character's actions, and what they think could happen in future chapters. I want the next generation to learn to think for themselves and I feel that asking open-ended questions is the best way to do this, as far as English Lit. goes.
There are also a few pages full of malapropisms, which Mr. Barnes uses to hilarious effect. I've also added a couple of pages of different literary devices, like allusion and imagery, and how Mr. Barnes uses them, with more questions to get the student thinking. There is also a Vocabulary list, along with some goodies like crosswords and matchups to get them more familiar with some of the less commonly used verbiage and hopefully expand their vocabulary. I feel that word searches and scrambles get a bad rap as being busywork, but I've included them, too, because I feel the break up the monotony and help with familiarizing the student with the words. The more they see the words, the more readily they can be called to mind!
If you're interested in downloading the PDFs, they are in this google drive. For us, I printed out everything except the resource list and put it into a 3-prong notebook. If your student is artistically inclined, I would encourage them to draw their own art on the front and back of the notebook, based on the book. It's a great exercise of their reading comprehension to put the author's words and descriptions into a visual. It's also another way to ingrain the concept of imagery in writing.
The resource list has a few simple links, to the book on Amazon, the song of the same title on YouTube, etc..
I'd also love to hear back from everyone who makes use of it! It will make all the work I put into it that much more worth it, knowing it's been used by others. Simply knowing others are reading such a great book is a great feeling.