Overview: Having trouble finding a high school homeschool literature curriculum for your reluctant reader teen? Here are my tips and recommendations.
When your teen doesn’t enjoy reading, the thought of forcing them through literature study is a daunting one.
You can’t even get them to read a comic book or the back of a cereal box. How are you gonna interest them in Shakespeare or Hemingway?
Character analysis? Plot development? Foreshadowing? Forget it!
And yet we know that learning how to study literature, if not to appreciate it, is an important piece of a high school education. It’s also something that colleges may be looking for as part of their admissions requirements.
So how you gonna make it happen?
Today I have some homeschool literature curriculum options to present for that teen who thinks reading is a waste of time. These choices are as painless as you can get when it comes to literature study, but they are still thorough and worthwhile. Possibly even engaging. Maybe even INTERESTING. What a concept!
First let’s chat about some overall tips that will help with homeschool literature study for the reluctant reader:
1) Utilize audio books.
Why not? Have your teen read along as they listen, if you’re worried about foregoing the act of reading itself. Your teen will still absorb the content and will be able to process and analyze it.
I enjoy listening to audio books, because the narrator often dramatizes a bit, which helps with comprehension. Also, audio books can be listened to anywhere, which makes them great for in the car or while doing chores or some other mindless task.
2) Literature study doesn’t always have to mean book reports.
Find literature curriculum that provides varied assignments, not just the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. This can help keep your kid more interested over a longer period of time. Variety is the spice of life, after all!
3) Along those lines, also switch out what they are reading often.
Don’t belabor any book for too long. They don’t have to wring out every nuance or wrinkle. This is high school, and they are not editors or paid critics. Let them get the basic ideas, perhaps explore one or two of them a little more deeply, and then move on before frustration sets in.
4) Furthermore, it might be helpful to change the type of literature every semester,
rather than hammering away for an entire year on one genre or period. In other words, there is no law that says American Literature has to be a year-long course. Make it a semester course and then do Brit Lit in the spring! Or whatever combination will be most interesting to your teen.
5) Let your teen choose what sounds intriguing to them.
Or more intriguing than the rest, anyway. Every time they get some say in the decision, you’ve got a better chance of their following through.
If they keep saying, “I dunno,” try giving them a choice between two or three options that you have selected. Usually they can at least pick the one that sounds less boring than the others, LOL.
6) Discussion is a completely valid type of assignment.
If your teen doesn’t like reading, they might also not like writing. So discuss with them instead, and evaluate based on the content of their words rather than the presentation.
Can they explain their thoughts, even if they’re not grammatically perfect? Do they have insights that are unique? This is the type of thing to keep an ear out for, rather than just names and places and events.
7) Don’t crowd them with more English (or Language Arts) than this.
If reading or literature study is difficult for them, then let it be enough for that semester. An English credit doesn’t have to include the grammar and the writing and the vocab AND the literature; you can narrow down to one of those at a time. More about that here: What Should a High School English Curriculum Include?
When it’s time to find curriculum so your teen who hates reading can actually study literature, take a look at these recommendations:
High School Homeschool Literature Curriculum Options for the Reluctant Reader
NOTE: The following may contain referral links. All images used with permission.
This homeschool literature curriculum is a great introduction to literary analysis. It is a one-semester course for .5 credit which focuses on short stories rather than novels. (Already you can see why I’m recommending this!)
The stories are compelling, suspenseful (but not scary), perfect for teens who are blasé about everything. The course covers all the major aspects of literary analysis, with varied assignments and a pace that keeps the teen moving (but not too fast).
I would recommend Windows to the World
as the first high school homeschool literature curriculum your teen is exposed to. They can delve deep into novels AFTER they have a good grasp of the essentials, which is what this curriculum provides.
If this is still a bit much, then try #2 ⇓.
This would be the only other curriculum I would say to start with, if your teen is not quite ready for Windows to the World (above). Yes, movies provide another way to learn many aspects of literature study without having to do much reading. Plot, setting, character — they’re all there!
Movies as Literature is designed as a year-long course, but this is one of those cases where it can easily be shortened; I had my teen pick half of the movies, and she did the class for one semester for .5 credit.
Don’t forget to grab the Student Workbook!
While doing this curriculum, my daughter discovered that she loves musical theater, and it’s been a passion of hers ever since. We had never seen The Music Man with Robert Preston, but now it’s fodder for many family quotes to bring out at hilariously appropriate moments.
Moral: Never assume anything about what your teen will or will not like. You will be surprised every time!
Lightning Literature has SO MANY courses to choose from. We have used several of them; they are all one semester long.
What I love about Lightning Lit is that their assignments are FUN.
Yes, they do have comprehension questions so your teen can prove they actually read the selection, but there are also varied assignments like describing a scene or a character or developing a word list or creating their own paragraph story with similar elements.
These assignments are given in a list of options for each lesson, so you can dialogue with the teen about which assignments to do and how many. That little bit of autonomy will help motivate them. Be reasonable with them, and chances are they will be reasonable with you.
The same daughter who loves musical theater was also the one I found laughing out loud at Shakespeare one day as I passed her room. Thanks to Lightning Literature!
4) 7 Sisters Homeschool has a gajillion single-novel literature guides.
This means you and your teen could hand-pick each book one-by-one rather than submitting to a curriculum of pre-chosen reading. Again, that element of choice can help with motivation and follow-through!
And when I say “a gajillion,” I mean ELEVEN PAGES of both literature and cinema guides, either one being a valid way to study literature (as we learned above). See all of their choices here: 7Sisters Literature & Cinema Guides.
7Sisters Homeschool promises NO BUSYWORK. Instead they utilize a conversational style of instruction, perfect for the reluctant reader AND writer! Their guides are PDF downloads, so they are instant access and very reasonably priced.
There are LOTS of homeschool literature curriculum choices out there, but not all of them will suit that teen who just hates to pick up a book. These might be what you’re looking for!
Remember that there is no one right way to homeschool high school. Work WITH your teen, allowing them a say in the decision-making process and adapting to suit their needs. Homeschooling high school may not always be easy, but it doesn’t have to be THAT hard!