Valuable Benefits from Reading Classic Literature in your Homeschool

LCP Ep 9: Valuable Benefits from Reading Classic Literature in your Homeschool

 

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Do you cringe when you think about “classic literature”?

Are you intimidated by the thought of tackling challenging vocabulary or complex sentences that seem to go on and on?

Visit Katie’s website for more fun ideas and tips to use in your homeschool at Katie’s Homeschool Cottage  or her Facebook Group.

Join Katie Glennon as she shares important benefits from reading classic literature, starting with easier books and working your way (and their way) up and through more challenging works as they progress through middle and high school.

There are so many academic and personal benefits that you most likely have not considered in reading classic books, but make the effort extremely worthwhile. They range from the very practical like expanding vocabulary to developing your child’s understanding of themselves, their world, and their individual viewpoints and worldviews.

Show Notes

 

Here is a summarized list of the benefits from the podcast. Please listen to the podcast for details and examples about these benefits.

When I use the term “classic literature”, I am not referring to the ancient literature of Socrates or Sophocles or Oedipus Rex. I am discussing books that have withstood the test of time and have earned a valuable place in our culture and on our bookshelves based on their theme and content or their rich use of language to express ideas.

I have compiled lists of suggested book titles for middle and high school for your reference when considering what books to include in your literature study.

Suggested Middle School Reading List

Suggested High School Classic Literature Book List

Important Benefits from including Classic Books in your Homeschool Literature Study

Learn to Appreciate the Written Word as a Piece of Art

When reading quality literature, we can envision a picture in our minds the scene the author is expressing through the written word. Through vivid descriptions, imagery, literary devices and other writing techniques, we are brought into the world or story that the author is describing. We can hear, feel, or see what the characters experience. We absorb the mood and get to know the characters through their dialogue.

Writing is a craft on paper, much like that expressed by artists with paint on a canvas. What we are reading has so much more meaning and we appreciate and enjoy it more when we can understand the techniques that a writer has used to transport us into another world for the moment.

Learn to Understand and also Absorb Complex and More Interesting Sentence Structure

Classic books, especially as you enter high school level literature, contains more complex and sophisticated sentence structure. If we start exposing our children to easier to understand classic books in middle school, they become accustomed to the longer and more complex sentences and how to tackle them when reading. When they enter high school, it will be less daunting to read some of the more challenging works because of the practice they have already gained.

Our children will also start to speak and write in more interesting sentences, because they actually start to absorb this way of expressing themselves. It comes naturally.

Enrich and Expand Vocabulary

When your children are regularly exposed to a more challenging vocabulary increments at a time, your children will become adept at using the sentence around the word to decipher the meaning of the word in its context. This is a very important and practical skill. They also more easily learn and retain the meaning of the word in the context of the sentence and the story, as opposed to weekly vocabulary lists that are not attached to a memorable story.

These words will then appear more naturally in their speech and their own writing.

Practice Identifying and Analyzing Worldview

In this day, it is important that we help our children identify worldviews that exist today and appear in the written and spoken word as it is presented in books, social media, television, and movies. We need to share with them our family viewpoints, morals, values, and our personal worldviews. Through this filter, we can then identify worldviews in speech and written word we come across or study with our children. It’s important to compare the viewpoints presented by others to our own personal worldviews and determine if they fit with our own and accept them or reject them.

It is through this study and discussion that our children develop their own views and are prepared to enter the world ready to stand by their own beliefs or be swayed and habitually change their viewpoints depending on their surroundings.

Classic literature with its content, themes, and viewpoints is a wonderful resource for this practice and discussion. Wordviews have been presented and have changed throughout literary time periods through history. (In the podcast, we have discussed this with more detail.)

Looking at Literature as a Reflection of History and Society

Because writers do not write in a vacuum and live during different time periods in history and changes in society, their writing will reflect their surrounding events and societal views and their own experiences. When we read classic books, we get a front row seat to events and feelings and beliefs of that time period of that author or of the story.

We can see why and how we are today because of the progression of ideas, events, and beliefs that have come before the present we are experiencing.

Looking at Literature as an Influence on History and Society

Writers not only write about events and beliefs around them to reflect what is happening, but also to influence those events and beliefs to bring about a change. Examples would be Thomas Paine’s Common Sense or Harriett Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Both were written to influence society and instigate change.

The written and spoken word can be powerful tools. Learning to identify pursuasive rhetoric helps our children learn to use these tools effectively and be able to discern when this rhetoric is being used to persuade them to adopt an idea or a belief.

Develop and Practice using Higher Order Thinking Skills

When interpreting and analyzing literature for its worldview and meaning and tying in our own views and experiences, we have the perfect opportunity to practice higher order thinking skills. From comprehending what we are reading to synthesizing what we have read to meld those ideas with our own, there are different kinds and levels of thinking skills that are naturally incorporated in reading and discussing a classic book.

 

Identify and Explore Universal Themes found in Literature and in Life

Classic books are a great opportunity to look at the theme presented in the story and compare it to life and our own personal experiences. These themes might be jealously, greed, grief, love, pride, revenge, or good versus evil. When we read about and explore a theme of a story, we have the opportunity to look at the consequences of actions of the characters and learn lessons from their experiences.

We can compare our own thoughts and feelings from our own experiences and examine them and learn from them. We begin to understand these “universal life truths and human experiences”.

This leads to our next benefit.

Understand and Develop Empathy and Sympathy for Others

A scientific study examined children when they read fiction versus non-fiction and they found children learned something when they read fiction. From reading about different characters and their experiences and being able to see and be a part of the characters’ thoughts and feelings in reaction to those experiences, the children in the study developed an understanding and empathy for those characters.

They were able to learn to take what they learned from those characters and those experiences and transfer an empathy to other people who were feeling a certain way because of the discussions about those characters and comparing their experiences to their own experiences. The children were able to project what they would do and how they would feel and act toward others in different circumstances that demonstrated an understanding of the feelings and motivations of other people. Practicing this with characters in literature helped them to develop this skill.

So you can see that studying classic books does not have to be a dreaded experience of convoluted sentences and long and difficult words and thoughts. It can be a wonderful practical experience to acquire not only academic skills that will help them in college, but important life skills to bring them into adulthood.

Be sure to comment in the Comments box any ideas you’d like to share about how your family has studied any classic books! Any great book titles or authors to suggest? I would love to hear from you!

 

Thanks for visiting! Come back and visit the Literary Cafe Podcast for January’s topic when we discuss essential writing skills in the upper grades! You will definitely want to catch this episode to make sure you are preparing your children for college and life with their writing.

Make sure you download our podcast at iTunes or subscribe to the Literary Cafe Podcast by clicking on the Android or RSS feed buttons below the recording on this page! And make sure you share this page with other homeschoolers with middle and high school aged children!

Stack of classic books for valuable benefits from reading classic books in your homeschool podcast #homeschool #homeschooling #languagearts #classicbooks #classicliterature #literaturestudy #literarystudy #highschoolliterature #highschoolliterarystudy #middleschoolliterature #middleschoolliterarystudy #homeschoolhighschool #homeschoolmiddleschool #literarycafepodcast #homeschoolpodcast

 

 

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