Friday, March 8, 2013

"British Literature: Cultural Influences of Early to Contemporary Voices " by James P. Strobaugh

James P. Strobaugh’s British Literature: Cultural Influences of Early to Contemporary Voices presents the study of British literature in an approachable manner. The textbook is divided into 34 chapters which consist of five lessons each. Each chapter begins with a First Thoughts section to interest the student and then states the objectives of that chapter.  Assignments relate to the lessons and require active reading by completing sections called Concept Builders. Each chapter provides essay options and a test. Each of these activities promotes strong vocabulary and higher thinking skills.

Strobaugh has selected a good cross section of classical British authors and their works, including a number of female authors in each category.   The book begins with “The Seafarer” and ends with T.S. Eliot. Unfortunately the longer works are not in the textbook. He does direct you to several websites where downloads are free. The reading list is extensive and it is suggested to begin reading these works the summer before beginning the course. The assignment reminders are helpful to keep the student on track and prepared for the upcoming lessons.  Although Strobaugh suggests the lessons will take 45-60 minutes daily, the reading load alone may well surpass that. Students will definitely need to be independent and motivated to keep abreast of the work.

The teacher edition is a binder-ready book that includes the teacher/parent with the answers to the concept builders and essay and test questions. The answers to the test questions do not take it to account for grading essay organization, style, or grammar.  It would be nice if the teacher/parent were provided a rubric in which to grade the essays and/or tests.  (Students should already be well versed in essay writing before starting this book because there is not a lot of time spent on the "how to.")The tests integrate higher thinking skills which include critical analysis of a particular poem, comparing poetry from different eras, and character analysis of a work.   Some of the tests, however, sound more like projects:  “In prose or poetry describe a place in nature that is very important to you.”

There is a strong emphasis on integrating Scripture and emphasizing a Biblical worldview in this textbook. If students persevere through this rigorous course of British Literature they will be able to defend their beliefs and will be able to discern the message of authors. If they follow through on the essays and receive adequate feedback, they will become better writers

DISCLOSURE: A complimentary evaluation copy was provided to us by New Leaf Publishing Group in exchange for our honest review. Opinions expressed are solely those of the reviewer.

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