When my oldest daughter entered middle school, I wanted to discuss the books she was reading. When I was a kid, I loved to read and even more, I loved to discuss the books I was reading. It helped me to discover details that I missed and look at the story from a little different perspective. So I began a quest to find curriculum that would serve as a basis for these discussions. Kolbe Academy has an extensive literature program with reading comprehension questions as well as paper ideas. Rainbow Resource has Christian Novel Studies that include questions, vocabulary, recipes (in some cases), and background information. I own parts of each of these program, but for sheer money-saving purposes, I felt that I needed to write some of my own.
I had two goals: 1) ensure she was comprehending what she was reading and 2) start introducing some critical thinking skills. So I set about creating questions upon which we could hold book discussions. Most of them I did on a chapter by chapter basis. For some of the easier books, I wrote a series of questions once I read the entire book. Sometimes I stuck to straight comprehension. Sometimes I wanted her to relate what was going on in the book to something in her own life. Sometimes I wanted to introduce a virtue or a saint. The questions weren’t meant to be used as an assignment, rather as a basis for a discussion.
After we finished a few books and tried out a few of my guides, I decided to host a book club for my daughter and her friends. The first book we read was Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. We complimented the book by watching the BBC version of the story. We met six times and read the chapters that corresponded with each episode. At each meeting, we discussed the book, watched the movie, and enjoyed a snack that would have been eaten by the characters.
At our last meeting, the girls dressed up as a character from the book and everyone brought some fabulous snack. We had such a wonderful time doing this, we have continued with other books. The girls’ energy is infectious! They are so insightful and enthusiastic. I am all about encouraging them to read and discuss the Classics, so I am happy to create Literature Guides for them on which to base our discussions.
I have posted Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Little Women & Little Men by Louisa Mae Alcott, and My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. As I have time, I will post others. They just need to be typed up.
Here are the study guides:
You can always find them in the Literature Guides Tab on the Home Page. I hope you find them useful!