Why Literary Analysis Should be a Part of your High School English Studies

The study of English includes both the study of literature and writing.  In the elementary grades, English includes reading, vocabulary, spelling, grammar, and writing.  By the time a child is high school age, they should have a pretty firm grasp on grammar and spelling, but they continue to acquire new vocabulary, read more challenging texts, and to develop their writing skills.

At the high school level, it is important that students learn to write a variety of essays and to learn to write a research paper.  One of those types of essays is the literary analysis essay.  This is the type of writing that every college student encounters in their English 101 classes.  It doesn’t matter whether they are majoring in engineering, biology, computers, theater, or basket-weaving!  Everyone takes English 101.

Literary analysis requires a student to closely read and examine a story and to develop his own insights.  Next, students learn strategies for writing about a story or a poem and to express those insights.  So, although “literary analysis” per se, is not required on a high school transcript, it should be a part of a student’s high school English studies.

The Inspired Scholar offers a one-semester course in literary analysis (Windows to the World).  We recommend students take it after they have taken the one-semester course in essay writing (Writing Elegant Essays).  These two books are published by IEW and the course is taught by an IEW Certified teacher.  Both of these courses will be offered again, January 10th, 2019.

Books for Boys

Frequently, I am asked for my recommendations for quality books for children and teens to read.  Today, I offer a dozen titles that would be of particular interest to older boys around 12-18 years old.  I have read all of the books listed below and our family has enjoyed them, but parents should familiarize themselves with the contents to determine its suitability for their family.  What one person finds objectionable, another person doesn’t. 

  1.  Books by G.A. Henty (historical fiction)  We enjoyed In Freedom’s Cause.  Many others have enjoyed The Cat of Bubastes.
  2. James Herriot’s series (His experiences as a veterinarian – hilarious) See All Creatures Great and Small.  Also at this link you can read a brief bio of Herriot and gather some other information on his stories.
  3. The Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff (adventure)
  4. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (Christian fantasy) 
  5. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (Civil War story)
  6. The Call of the Wild by Jack London (dog story set in Yukon Gold Rush)
  7. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (adventure)
  8. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (fantasy)
  9. By the Great Horn Spoon by Sid Fleischman (Gold Rush)
  10. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne (science fiction)
  11. Captain’s Courageous by Rudyard Kipling (boy learns responsibility)

Castles in America!

When I think of castles, I immediately think of Europe, especially Ireland and Scotland.  But who knew that America has castles all over the landscape, too!  Will at Storm the Castle has made a road-trip of America and visited all 48 states.  He loves everything having to do with castles and medieval times, thus, the name of his website – Storm the Castle.  Here is his picture of a castle in Kentucky.  For my IEW Medieval History-Based writing students, especially, wouldn’t this be fun to explore!


Will also has many free projects having to do with medieval times.  Here you will find free instructions for making a castle out of cardboard tubes and paper.  He also has links to many fine kits for making some famous and well-known castles. I like to encourage my writing students to do some art-based activities to supplement their papers.  It’s a fun activity and can also be part of a speech or presentation.

One more American castle, with some super interesting history! – Singer Castle, named after the 5th president of the Singer sewing machine company.  He was inspired to build this castle after being influenced by literature…yes, that’s right…literature.  He wanted to build the castle just like he read about in Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Woodstock; or Cavelier:  A Tale of the Year Sixteen Hundred and Fifty-One.

Have you visited any castles in America?




The Mystery of the Missing Boat

I have experienced many changes this year, from having to change my website address, the web host, and re-create my video lessons to a new format.  That is to be expected from time to time in this line of work, but life never seems to happen when it is convenient, does it?  In any case, it’s great to be writing and sharing with you.

I thought it would be most fitting to launch my new blog by sharing a book that one of my writing students has written.  I am so proud of her!  She truly has a gift for telling a story.  Here is her synopsis of it:

“Anika, a thirteen-year-old girl, was not pleased about her family moving to Maine. Making new friends, attending a new school, and leaving the only home she knew in New York, were all making her nervous. On a stormy afternoon, her dad disappeared while riding on his new boat. Little did Anika know that with the help of her new friend Mia, both girls would come up with a rescue plan and adventure on the ocean to try to solve this mystery. Would Anika and Mia crack the case?”

It can be found on Amazon.

Remembering our Blessings

Do you feel that Thanksgiving is brushed aside in our hurry to get to Christmas?  I do.  I like Christmas as much as the next person, but my family celebrates Thanksgiving for the whole week.  We decorate in fall colors and fake leaves (you have to use fake in Phoenix). We burn spiced pumpkin candles, and eagerly wear our tan and orange sweaters and scarves the moment the temperature drops below 100 degrees!  

In the frenzy to watch football and eat turkey, do we remember to be truly thankful for our blessings?  Every day should be filled with Thanksgiving. It’s a sure anti-depressant. The Bible commands us to be thankful.  “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the people.” Psalm 105:1. Before you can thank the Lord for his blessings, you have to remember what they are and in our busy world, we can easily forget.  To help you remember, I recommend making a blessing jar or bucket or some kind of container to store them in. For crafty types, this can be decorated and placed in a visible spot in your household. I would use small 3×5 index cards to write one blessing per card.  A blessing could be an answered prayer as well. What size container should you use? How much do you expect the Lord to bless you? You might need a 33 gallon garbage can!

For young ones, check out the book, The Blessing Jar and this cute blessing jar.

Thanksgiving is a great time to take out these cards and read them aloud.  On other days when you feel particularly discouraged or forgotten about (and we all have days like that), take them out and read them again.  We all need reminders. While you’re at it, ask the Lord to show you more ways he has blessed you to add to your jar.

“What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me?” Psalm 116:12