I have long been a fan of literature guides. I love being guided into deeper understanding of books and their authors. We received the Great Expectations E-Guide (for grades 9-12) from Progeny Press for review, and since we have reviewed their literature guides before, we knew the PDF study guide would be just as good as the last one.
Being a Charlotte Mason-esque homeschool, our days are very literature rich. And we have books everywhere! Books on the bookshelves, books in cubes, books on tables, books in baskets, books in stacks on the floor.
When deciding which literature guide to review, we had to consider which books we already had. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about buying new books. However, I am not all about paying full price- which is often what happens when you must buy a book right away. Charles Dickens can definitely be found among our piles and piles of books, so we opted for the Great Expectations Literature Guide ($21.99 value).
Seeing as how this is a high school literature guide, I had my (almost) 14 year old read the book and use the guide. To be honest, she wasn’t thrilled. NOT because of the guide, but because of the way Dickens writes. She’s heard me read Dickens aloud and wasn’t exactly looking forward to reading such language on her own. So, in order to quell the preemptive groanings, I agreed to let her listen to the book on LibriVox (free public domain audio books) as long as she followed along in the physical book.
What’s needed to get started?
- the book- in this case, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- topical Bible or concordance
- access to the internet
How does Progeny Press lay out their literature guides?
Each (high school) guide takes roughly eight to ten weeks to complete when working on one section a week. This particular guide has nine sections. When you consider the pre-reading activities, lesson work pages, actual reading of the book, post-reading activities, and the final overview (basically a final test), there is more than an adequate amount of work to pick and choose from to enhance the reading experience.
Each individual lesson is composed of:
- Vocabulary- defining words pulled from the text
- General Questions- questions that can be answered simply by reading the text
- Analysis Questions- literature analysis questions
- Dig Deeper Questions/Activities- critical thinking/personal reflection questions
There are also 17 Final Essay and Project Ideas that all range in complexity and time needed to complete.
Some sections the teacher/parent will find helpful and beneficial:
- About the Novel’s Author- a short biography about the author
- Synopsis- a brief summary of the book
- Background Information – this part I found particularly interesting. It’s a whole section about the times in which the book was written.
What about about high school credits?
Each study guide is valued at about a one-fourth credit. This valuation was given by both Christian high schools and colleges assessing homeschooling transcripts.
How we used the Great Expectations Literature Guide
We read/listened to the book a little each day. At first we tried to read first, answer questions after. That didn’t work very well for her. So after the first few pages of the guide, she decided she would read through the entire lesson and then watch for the answers in the book. This worked way better.
On average, she completed one page a day in the guide.
While we appreciate literature guides for what they are and what they do, we aren’t a big fan of answering prepared questions after reading. Overall, we really like the guide (and the book!). I especially like all the post-reading enrichment activities.
We highly recommend taking a look at all that Progeny Press has to offer!