Novel Inquiries, Volume 2: Ancient Civilizations, Grades 7-9

Margot Davidson
Hillside Education
Number of pages: 
179 pages

A Set of Guides for Four Novels Integrating Composition and Higher Level Thinking

Volume 2 carries on the tradition of excellence described in the review of Volume 1, with many additional features for the middle grade student. The 43-page Teacher's Guide is separate from the 136-page Student Book at this level. This volume includes literature guides for Mara, Daughter of the Nile by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, Warrior Scarlet by Rosemary Sutcliffe, The Tale of Troy by Roger Lancelyn Green, and Caesar's Gallic Wars by Olivia Coolidge.

The Teacher's Guide addresses the goals of literature study in general as well as specific goals and needs for this age group. In addition, the author has written a story synopsis and theme as well as detailed assignment instructions for the teacher for each of the novels. The numerous suggested assignments range from journaling and outlining activities to graphic organizers to compositions to discussion exercises to art projects. However, my favorite part by far is the appendix! The description of the writing process and instructions for evaluating various types of student writing are invaluable when used with the student writing samples. It is one thing to read a list of details that should be a part of a student's writing, but it is much more helpful to actually read the student's work alongside the lists.

The Student Book is a comprehensive literature study guide tailored to the developmental needs of the 7th to 9th grade student for each of the four novels as well as a section to complete at the end of the study of all four novels. Each novel's guide includes a "Before Reading" set of activities, "While Reading" set of activities, "Questions for Discussion at the End of the Story", and "Writing Prompts for the End of the Story". Especially appropriate to the target age group are the numerous graphs employed to help the student organize a pertinent information. The student is taught to use "Mind Maps", graphic-based webs for character analysis, and charts and Venn diagrams. My 8th-grade student found the chart formats to be very helpful and enjoyable to use. Writing activities taught include character essays, theme essays, speeches and scripts, autobiographical and biographical narratives, poetry, and opinion papers. The student's appendix also contains many examples of student assignments to help guide a more inexperienced student to a successful writing project.

This series is a terrific contribution to the curriculum now available for Catholic homeschoolers and fulfills a genuine need for literary analysis guides. It is so refreshing to be able to simply pick up the book and get to the work of educating my children without worrying about hidden bias and doctrinal errors. Congratulations to the author!

Additional notes: 

This title is no longer available from the publisher, but is still available from Study guides for the individual books are available from Hillside Education.

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