For the 2011-2012 school year we used a selection of literature books recommended for 3rd grade on the Veritas Press website as well as some of their literature guides to accompany the books. (I’ve indicated the books we had guides for with an asterisk.)
- Homer Price*
- Charlotte’s Web*
- The Random House Book of Fairy Tales*
- Peter Pan
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe*
- The Magician’s Nephew
- Misty of Chincoteague
- Stuart Little
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland*
- The Dragon of Lonely Island
- The Story of the Treasure Seekers
Bradley also read a few of the historical literature selections recommended on the Veritas Press website which correlated with the time period of history he is studying.
- D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths
- Detectives in Togas
- Pompeii…Buried Alive!
- The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War
Bradley really enjoyed the literature selections this year and I believe these are good solid options for His reading level. I like the focus on classic literature that Veritas Press has.
Shortcomings of the Literature List
Veritas Press gives their books a rating of easy, average, and challenging, but it seems to me that many of the books at the same rating have varying degrees of difficulty. One thing I wish Veritas Press would consider doing is more thoroughly rating their literature selections based on difficulty to help guide parents in knowing the order in which the books should be read.
Another thing it would be nice to see Veritas Press do is give a recommendation as to the average number of books a student should be reading in a year for each grade level. There are 29 books listed on the Veritas Press website, and I don’t believe it is the intention of Veritas Press to suggest that all of these books should be read by the student in the year. If that is their recommendation, there is no way we could have accomplished this much with everything else we have been doing!
One complaint I’ve heard from parents regarding the Veritas Press curriculum is that the sheer number of books and options on their website is quite intimidating. I would guess part of the reason many parents choose a boxed curriculum over Veritas Press is because with a boxed curriculum, though it may be an inferior curriculum or not as comprehensive, is also not as overwhelming. I do believe that Veritas Press could win more customers by providing more thorough recommendations to parents, thus making it not such a daunting process to choose curriculum.
Shortcomings of the Literature Guides
The literature guides that we used were just okay. I have not been overly impressed with most of them. Most of them are fairly basic and simply ask comprehension questions with some projects thrown into the mix.
The two guides that I liked the most were for Charlotte’s Web and The Random House Book of Fairy Tales. The Charlotte’s Web guide had some very fun projects throughout the book (including making puppets of all of the main characters with brown paper bags). It also had a vocabulary section with each chapter that was very useful. I’d like to see this in more of Veritas Press’s literature guides. I liked the guide that went with The Random House Book of Fairy Tales because it emphasized the uniqueness of the genera of fairy tales and what sets fairy tales apart from other types of stories.
Plans for Next Year
This next school year I will probably again use Veritas Press’ suggestions for literature books, but I probably won’t use a lot of their comprehension guides. What I would like to do instead is try the curriculum guide Teaching the Classics. It is a socratic method of literary analysis which helps the student to identify many different themes in the pieces of literature they’re reading. If you’ve used this training guide to help with literature, I’d love for you to comment on your experiences with it!
The level of Bradley’s reading proficiency has greatly increased this year. Not only has he greatly enjoyed the books he’s read, but they have also challenged him!