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TOS Crew Product Review ~ Excellence in Literature - English 1, Introduction to Literature

Reviewing the product "English 1 - Introduction to Literature" from the Excellence in Literature series by Janice Campbell has been an absolute delight for me. Having used her products and subscribed to her e-zine for several years, I can attest to the fact that her products are quality curriculum and her wisdom is invaluable to homeschooling families - particularly those with students in high school.

Excellence in Literature is a college preparatory literature program, an it's important to keep this in the forefront of your mind when using this curriculum. It's not some "easy-cheesy" workbook that demands little from the student and even less from the teacher. On the contrary, "English 1 - Introduction to Literature" is a first-rate product that draws excellence from the student provided said student pours hard work into the assignments. If you're wondering whatever happened to the lady writing this weblog who dislikes grading and favors curriculum that is user-friendly, don't worry, I still feel that way. But a big part of why I feel that way is because of my core belief that in order to give my children a quality, college prep education demands that I "cut the fat" from our homeschool. Otherwise I won't be able to get the big rocks into the jar first.

Janice Campbell lays out some clear objectives for "English 1":

~ Introduce students to great western literature
~ Teach students to read with discernment
~ Train independent, self-motivated learners
~ Provide tools to strengthen their writing skills
~ Introduce them to sources for high-quality online and offline research
~Prepare students for college classes by expecting carefully-researched, well-thought-out material to be presented in standard format with preliminary proofreading completed

She delivers on these objectives, provided the student does the work. What the course work looks like can differ slightly from family to family (as each family has their own standard for reading material and may choose not to read every book suggested). And of course younger students may need their course work altered; or perhaps your child prefers the Honors course laid out in English 1. However, I feel that you gain the most from this curriculum by completing it in it's entirety. The approach papers and essay writing that are unique to Excellence in Literature make up the spine of the program and bring great literature to life in a new way for the reader. After all, what would be the point of a literature program that failed to include writing assignments? And what could be the point of reading great books if the reader never bothers to ponder what's been read?

The instructions for writing the approach papers are clearly laid out in the book, and they really do bring out your child's understanding of what was read. An approach paper should be written when the student has finished a book. The essays are each assigned using an essay prompt, which challenges the student without overwhelming them. Since it is a college preparatory course, the student is simply assigned a book to read without being told how many pages to read daily, etc. They will not have the luxury of being spoon-fed in college, and Excellence in Literature gives them ample preparation for read world college courses. It also gives some read world practice for type-A homeschool moms like myself to let go and let the student "own" their lessons! I would also like to add that the book "Write for College" is suggested for use with "English 1". We have used "Write for College" with our high school children, and it lays an excellent foundation for college writing.

My 8th grade daughter had this to say about "English 1 - Introduction to Literature": "I'm not a huge fan of poetry, so that section was the most difficult for me. The short stories were interesting and I don't think I would have read them without having English 1 point them out to me. Writing an approach paper helps me understand what I just read. I can't get away with being a lazy reader! The book choices are good - a nice variety from all walks of life and different writing styles. It's a good program and I'm glad to have been able to use it."

To see what other TOS Crew mates had to say about Excellence in Literature, click HERE.

For more information about the literature curriculum available from Excellence in Literature, go to

To see other products (like Transcripts Made Easy, Grammar Made Easy, Spelling Made Easy and Get a Jump Start on College) visit While there, take some time to see the other things Janice Campbell has on her site, like a GPA Calculator, Home Business info, A Beat the Clock Essay Workshop, and much more.

"English 1 - Introduction to Literature" is available in print form for $29 (plus $4.95 shipping) or in e-book form for $27 (132 pages). Payment can be made via Pay Pal.

As always, I received this product free of charge for review purposes.

Thanks for taking the time to read my product review & have a fantastic fall weekend!

Day 127 done :)

Jan L. Burt


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