High School Literature: British Medieval

One of the most fun parts of homeschooling a high school student is getting to customize his curriculum to meet his needs. When we decided to study medieval history, I wanted to align my son’s literature and composition course with it. I happily found Lightning Lit & Comp: British Medieval 2nd Edition (Lightning Lit & Comp).

The Many Advantages of British Medieval

British Medieval can be adapted to either a one semester or full year schedule. Flexibile, check!  It also contains great literature selections, including the following:

Good reading, check!

British Medieval’s lessons cover literary analysis, research, literary devices, and writing modes and methods. All of the questions, additional literature selections, background material, and activities are included in the student book. Comprehensive, check!

The complete British Medieval course is inexpensive, and the additional literature is easy to find for free either online or at the library. Affordable, check!

The Challenge

The design of British Medieval makes it possible for students to take this course as an independent study. The literature is more difficult than the British or American literature courses, however, so more parental involvement might be required. The old English spellings are stumbling blocks for some students. But the author of British Medieval includes many helps, such as footnotes and background material, making the literature more understandable. Plus, the comprehension questions help guide students through the reading, pointing them to the key ideas, such as this question from The Canterbury Tales:

Chaucer’s description of the pilgrims begins on line 43. Just before he begins, he explains in what order he will present those pilgrims. What is that order? (p. 168)

British Medieval Course Structure

Lightning Literature & Composition: British Medieval is divided into four units comprised of two lessons each. The main literature selection is accompanied by additional reading selections, which are included in the guide. Literary lessons on topics like foreshadowing, metaphor, allegory, and tone are included in each lesson, as well as comprehension, discussion, and essay questions. The teacher’s guide contains complete answers to all of the comprehension and discussion questions, so parents can use this when they sit down with their students, or students can use it alongside the student’s guide to check their work.

This course puts a strong emphasis on writing, and the teacher’s guide includes checklists, rubrics, and tips to make essay grading easier for parents. These extras are immensely helpful, and I am happy that the teacher’s guide is formatted to put in my binder. I can place the appropriate pages behind my weekly history dividers and easily access them. This course becomes an extension of medieval history because of its content, but it is a challenging, almost college level, literature and composition course.

The author states that learning the “skills of deep reading and the craft of writing” helps broaden the scope of literature students enjoy and makes writing “less daunting and time consuming.” (p. 1) After my son’s reluctance to read and write about literature from the middle ages turned into enthusiasm, I can honestly say that Lightning Literature & Composition: British Medieval delivers on its stated goals.


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