The title we received to review is the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers. This guide is designed to help your High School student improve their own writing and transition them into writing quality papers for college. Besides being a guidebook for the actual writing process, it is a great reference for all the finer points of writing that often get muddled in our brains over the years like when and how to properly use abbreviations, punctuation with quotations, and how to properly write your reference page.
Because it was late summer when we received the e-book version of the Handbook for Writers, I decided to use it myself during the review, and now have plans for how to incorporate it into Arlene's writing assignments for this Fall and Winter. I knew we would want to use this resource for the two years Arlene has remaining of her High School journey so I sent the PDF to our local print shop to have it printed and three hold punched. I was certain we did not want to print it at home since it is 420 pages! The Handbook for Writers is available as an e-book ($29), a printed - spiral bound book ($39), or in a set with the e-book and printed version ($49). I am certain that you all will better enjoy my posts after I finish reading and applying what I learn from the punctuation section!
The Handbook for Writers is a combination of two book written by Canadian Ian Johnston. With his permission, Janice has combined them, adapted the rules to American verbiage and grammar, and presented them as one big reference book to help your student "communicate accurately and gracefully." I love that about Janice, she is full of grace not only in what she says, but how she presents it. Whenever I hear Janice speak, or read her email newsletters I am reminded of the true definition of a Lady.
The first half of the Handbook for Writers is devoted to teaching your student HOW to write a persuasive essay or a research paper convincingly. If your family is using a Charlotte Mason or Thomas Jefferson approach to education, you can probably hand the book to your High Schooler and they can self-teach their way through it. This book is quite thorough without being boring! It begins with helping the student understand WHY they might want to write a persuasive essay and which topics are worth the effort to write about. It helps them differentiate between established fact and opinion. Then it teaches them the parts of the essay and how to structure it. Your student will learn about thesis statements, defining their terms, and both deductive and inductive reasoning. While remaining focused on writing, it pulls from politics, social studies, and logic lessons to help them understand how other people will read and understand what they themselves have written.
Along the way Janice has pulled out a few key points to highlight in the sidebar of the page, like this one from page 106: "Evidence requires interpretation which links the facts to the point being made..." These writing gems help your student really think through what they want to communicate beginning with their ideas, working through their outline, and finally writing their paper.
The second half of the Handbook for Writers is the nitty-gritty of what is correct grammar and punctation usage. Although in her introduction Janice asserts no one book can contain everything you need to know about grammar, this one gives your High Schooler a huge, health dose of help! When searching this section of the Handbook you will really come to appreciate the 21 page, highly detailed table of contents! There are nine chapters in this part covering everything from Phrases, Clauses, and Sentences to References and Bibliographies. The ninth chapter focuses on accepted Basic Format points such as fonts, type sizes, and margins. If you need it for writing in High School, it is probably in here!
As with every title I've had the opportunity to see from Everyday Education, the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers is topnotch! If you're a family that focuses more on the Parent teaching the lessons to the student instead of your High Schooler being an independent learner, you will probably do well to use the Handbook for Writers alongside the other titles in the Excellence in Literature curriculum. Like I mentioned earlier, many students who are used to working independently can gain a lot from simply reading the first half of the Handbook and them referencing the back half for the finer points of grammar whilst writing their essays and research papers. Either way, this is a title your students will use over and over again during High School and beyond. For that reason, I suggest you purchase the printed copy!
A huge thank you to Janice Campbell for the opportunity to review this title, and for the encouragement she has always brought to me through her presentations, and our talks at her booth over the past 4 years. The first time I heard her speak I thought "Yes! What I'm already doing really does work for other families and I'm not the only one who has veered off the modern path of education and back to the tried and true methods that worked so well for my grandparents and great-grandparents."
The Homeschool Review Crew members received a variety of titles from Everyday Education. I encourage you to click the banner below and see what was offered in the age range appropriate for your children!