Literature Study Guides from Progeny Press Review

I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Most homeschoolers agree that great literature is the backbone of any good education. Finding book lists and cheap copies of these books is relatively simple. Finding a good literature resource to lead student learning and check for understanding, however, can be difficult. Progeny Press has made it very simple to approach great literature in an organized way, plus introduce some fantastic concepts. This month, we reviewed two of their products, the Frankenstein Study Guide and Cricket in Times Square Study Guide

Here's what you can expect when you purchase either of these two products.

What's included?

First, these products are both digital formats. You get a student guide and an answer key with each purchase. These come as separate downloads, so your student can get the eguide file to work on, and you can store the answers in a separate location on your computer for grading.

You'll need to purchase a copy of the book being read, and the publisher also recommends having a dictionary, thesaurus, Bible (this is a Christian literature guide), and internet access for further research. The publisher states that resources linked from the guide were checked for appropriateness at the time the guide was written, but since links can change, parents should still supervise their student use of online research tools.

How do you use it?

We have each of our kids reading at least one book for school at all times. For the high school kids, they could read Frankenstein, while my 4th grader could read Cricket in Times Square. Unlike how I was told to read books for class when I was growing up, Progeny Press recommends the student read through the entire book before starting the activities, perhaps only doing the pre-reading activities while they are working through their first reading.

Then, as they do each section of the guide, they can reread as needed, even referencing the book while they work on the activities. This "open book" approach, is how we like to test for understanding, as well. I'm not as much concerned that a child can remember a name of a character from memory with the book closed as I am concerned that they understood a theme or or moral outcome in the story and may need to reference the book to make sure they are picking the right answer for their understanding.

Each guide takes 8-10 weeks, with each section being assigned for a week. You can, of course, adjust this to your needs. The publisher recommends counting each guide as a 1/4 credit for high schoolers.

These guides are reproducible, and you can use one guide for all the kids in your family. If you choose to print out the guides, you can, but they work really well as a digital guide. Just save a copy for each family member so they aren't typing over the other's work. (This can be read and edited in an Adobe reader or similar. No extra paid software needed.)

Things to know about the guide

Younger kids may be able to read through the book but still need help with reading through the questions or even typing answers out. Be sure you adapt this resources to your unique student needs. It's one of the reasons I like these guides. They are very flexible!

You can download the ebook/eguide the same day you order. No waiting for it to arrive in the mail. Also, because you can use it as a digital resource, you can avoid printing or paper costs.

Progeny Press is a Christian publishing company. You can see their statement of faith here. I think that it's nice to have a wide assortment of literature guides for students of faith, especially books like Frankenstein, which is sometimes avoided out of concern for how to teach some of the more complicated and problematic themes. Having a guide already written that encourages kids to explore their faith in context to these themes is very valuable.

Who is this for?

Homeschoolers who want access to quality literature guides written from a Christian perspective will enjoy these. They are affordable, downloadable, printable, and sharables within a family. Classical homeschoolers, in particular, will appreciate the library of titles available, which often match the lists colleges and universities of a classical or liberal arts mission want students to have read.

Notes about each guide

Since we looked at two guides this month, I wanted to share a few things about each. 

Cricket in Times Square - If your child is far enough along in reading to be able to read this book, congrats! It's a significant point in literacy, but expect your child to not always be able to work through the questions independently. Cricket has many, many words that are older or used in ways kids won't be familiar with today. For that reason, embrace the vocabulary sections and spend more time on them, if you can. This guide also explores character, and since the characters in this book are all animals, it's a non-threatening way for kids to think about people and behavior in a safe way. This book makes an excellent introduction into the moral and ethical questions kids will be asking in junior high and later, but with critters instead of humans. This guide gives parents a framework so they are prepared for the rigor of the text, as well. 

Frankenstein - This is a high school level guide. Themes include literary devices and trends of the time it was written, including a conversation on classicism vs. realism, some about Mary Shelley's life, and the political themes of the time it was written. Pride, the quest for knowledge, and the character of people are discussed, as well. Students will come away with exposure to some scientific and philosophical exposure to themes like naturalism and whether some scientific processes and inventions could be good but used for wrong. This has the potential to be a heavy study. Be prepared to spend a lot of time discussing what your child is thinking and feeling while they go through the book, even if they choose to largely work on things independently. This is a excellent opportunity for families to take on important topics. 

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