Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

Innovative Homeschooling: Let’s Talk Literature

Homeschooling parents love literature lists. love. love. love.

Quality literature is an important part of our homeschools.  Historical fiction.  Classics. Biographies. Non-fiction. The list goes on. and on. and on. Till we finally narrow down the titles we will attack for the school year.

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And as we sift through our literature options, I’d like to offer a few thoughts to encourage homeschooling parents to embrace the role of an innovator when it comes to literature.Lets talk literature

1. Homeschooling Literature: Adjust the Assigned List

There. I said it.

You may read books for your homeschool that aren’t on your chosen curriculum list.  As if you need my permission. But just in case you do, you have it.  And if your list is already too jam packed to add anything, then you have permission to eliminate one of the titles on it.

The thing about homeschooling is that you are the teacher and while homeschooling parents spend a lot of time choosing a curriculum that works for their family, you don’t HAVE to stick to the book list. You can make some changes as you see fit.

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Which leads me to my next point…

1. Homeschooling Literature: Include Modern Titles

I have to be honest here. I have been around the homeschool block a few times, and some literature lists leave me wondering what century we are in.

Don’t get me wrong, I Updating Your Literature Listam all for reading a good classic. Truly. Little Women and the Diary of Anne Frank were on our list last year. Mark Twain. Charles Dickens. Jane Austen. Timeless classics written by these authors should be included on our literature lists, but let’s not stick to only the literary worlds of the past.

If your school book list this year doesn’t include any books published in the 21st century, then modify the list a little bit. Take a detour for a few weeks or replace a classic title with a more current one.

Of course, this is one reason we are fans of the Brave Writer Arrow and Boomerang yearly literature guides. Julie Bogart of Brave Writer always does a fantastic job of mixing in some classics with modern titles. But it isn’t hard to find great book lists. They are all over the internet and readily available at your local library.

If you are stuck and need some title inspiration, here are a few favorites:

Once you have embraced your roles as the homeschooling innovator that you are, it is time to move on to the next step…

3. Homeschooling Literature: Embrace the Graphic Novel and Comic Book

These two types of literature tell stories through a combination of illustrations and words though they aren’t exactly the same.  Comic books are typically periodicals that tell an ongoing story over time.  They are released monthly and are typically held together with staples in the spine.  Graphic novels read more like books and tell one fully developed story from beginning to end.  They are published in book format with hardcover and paperback bindings.  You can read more about the differences here.

Innovators in literature know the value of comic books and graphic novels.

Astonishing vocabulary development.  Less intimidating to reluctant readers.  Beautiful graphics.  Concise language usage.  Linking images to text.  This is powerful stuff.Updating Literature for your Homeschool

Graphic novels, specifically, can be a powerful force in your homeschool. Just ask some of the experts…

“Visual literacy is the reading of text and images in conjunction, and requires traditional reading skills as well as ability to read frames, gutters, speech bubbles, and other graphic novel features (Monnin, 2010).  Students need access and interaction with both print and visual literacy in order to be best prepared for the demands of the 21st century.  Both literacies require interpretation, negotiation, and meaning making from readers, which in turn supports student ability to interpret the world.  Graphic novels provide the ideal vehicle for both print and visual literacy skill to be developed in the classroom (Gillenwater, 2009). ” – essay from Getting Graphic (full article found here)

Let’s bring the power of visual literacy to all of our students as we usher them into the 21st century!

I encourage you to incorporate at least one graphic novel title in your studies this year.  In addition, keep a few around the house for your kids to read.  It is easy to find ones linked to historical events to reinforce what you are studying in a whole new way.

NOTE:  Keep in mind that graphic novels can be…well…graphic.  Research titles using Common Sense Media and other helpful sites to make sure the graphic content is appropriate for your children.  There are plenty of titles for all ages, so I know you will find one that suits your family!

But here are a few favorites to get you started:

The first time you read a graphic novel to your kids, it might feel a bit weird. Take your time and enjoy the graphics while you read the words. Everyone will adjust and I suspect you might enjoy it. But even if you don’t, it might hook your kids!

Comic books.  I love them.  All types.  But our absolute favorite and astonishingly educational comic books are the Calvin and Hobbes series by Bill Waterson.  Calvin has taught my children humor, idioms, puns and pretty big vocabulary words. The ones from my own childhood are practically falling apart now so we keep adding to our collection.

When it comes to your literature studies this year, what innovations are you going to try?  What are you already doing?

This post is Day Two of a series, “Five Days of Innovative Homeschooling“.  All five posts will be displayed on the main page.


Join me for a series on 5 Days of Innovatie Homeschooling.

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Mary Wilson

Mary is a writer and mother to four kids ranging from elementary to high school.

She believes that creativity, laughter, and fun are the backbone for engaging and inspiring homeschools. You can find her encouragement and tips on this blog, Mary Hanna Wilson.

She is an enneagram 7 and an extrovert. She enjoys traveling, tea (iced or hot), good conversations, and books. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

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  • Reply MJ Sherwood August 30, 2016 at

    Mary I adore this whole concept! My daughter has been falling in love with graphic novels. She has always been an avid reader but now she is ADDICTED! She read Smile in 2 days and we have Sisters on order from the library. Thank you for this awesome list of resources!

    • Reply August 31, 2016 at

      You are welcome! Glad to hear it is working for your daughter!

  • Reply Jenny White September 22, 2016 at

    LOVE THIS!!!!

  • Reply Caitlin Fitzpatrick Curley December 18, 2016 at

    An innovator- love it!

  • Reply Sarah Badat Richardson December 23, 2016 at

    This is great! We read classics but do like to mix it up. My daughter’s favorite comic book is Yakari (originally in French but also translated to English).

    • Reply December 23, 2016 at

      I’ll have to look it up! Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Reply Laura April 14, 2018 at

    Awesome post! But, the amazon book list for newer titles doesn’t work-help!

    • Reply Mary Wilson April 15, 2018 at

      I am so sorry Laura. Amazon removed their online aStores, so I can’t access them anymore. I have removed the links. We follow the Brave Writer titles, so you can check their titles out for ideas.

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