The Well-Trained Mind vs Tapestry of Grace: Literature

Cyclamen mums marigolds
Part of my task for the month of November is to start thinking about next year’s high school courses. Literature was on my mind yesterday and that is how I got myself into the predicament with Tapestry of Grace and their website.

Looking back and then looking forward, I sat down to decide where we stand with our 11th grader and his progress in literature studies.

I needed a little confidence builder.
TOG binders year 4
Because we have followed more or less the Tapestry of Grace plans for literature, I was curious to see how we fared if I compared its plans with the literature guidelines in The Well-Trained Mind (TWTM). In our case, I have supplemented TOG plans with a few extra books from the Ambleside lists as well as some that I chose from our own home library. (More on my plans HERE.)

On page 487 (2004 edition), SWB suggests a minimum of 8 books for each high school year, chosen from her lists in TWTM. I thought I would record for anyone who was interested, just how the comparison went for our book selections for the first three years of high school. The starred items are on TWTM list.

Ninth Grade (We focused mostly on the Bible.)
Bible: Genesis – Job *
Epic of Gilgamesh *
Homer, Iliad and Odyssey *
Bible: Book of Daniel *
Last Days of Socrates
Life of Alexander the Great
Beyond the Desert Gate
God King
Tales of Egypt
Hittite Warrior
Twice Freed
Virgil, Aeneid *
Bible: Corinthians 1 and 2 *
Bible: Galatians
Bible: Ephesians
Bible: 1 and 2 Thessalonians
Huckleberry Finn -free reading *(TWTM 12th grade list)
Great Expectations -free reading *(TWTM 12th grade list)
Origin of the Species -biology/science reading *(TWTM 12th grade list)
Julius Caesar -Shakespeare selection to go along with study of Rome *(TWTM 1oth grade)

Tenth Grade (This year was jam-packed with literature!)
Dream of the Rood
Arabian Nights
Koran (portions as part of TOG) *
Beowulf *
Dante’s Inferno *
Canterbury Tales (selections) *
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight *
Shakespeare’s Sonnets
Everyman *
The York Play of the Crucifixion
Faustus (tried but didn’t finish) *
Much Ado About Nothing *
Henry V *
King Lear *
The Tempest *
Don Quixote *(TWTM 11th grade list)
Pilgrim’s Progress *(TWTM 11th grade list)
Enlightenment poets: Dryden, Bradstreet, Wheatley
Gulliver’s Travels *(TWTM 11th grade list)
The Rape of the Lock
Poets: Cowper, Gray and Smart *(TWTM 11th grade list)
Benjamin Franklin Autobiography (part of history reading) *(TWTM 11th grade list)
Declaration of Independence (part of history) *(TWTM 11th grade list)
US Constitution (part of history) *(TWTM 11th grade list)
Common Sense (part of history reading) *(TWTM 11th grade list)
Oliver Twist – free reading *(TWTM 11th grade list)
Animal Farm – free reading *(TWTM 12th grade list)

Eleventh Grade (Lightened up on literature to allow more time for world geography.)
Romantic Poets: Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats *
Pride and Prejudice *
Twelfth Night
Self Reliance-Emerson *
Walden-Thoreau *(TWTM 12th grade list)
Les Miserable
Poetry: Whitman *(TWTM 12th grade list)
Uncle Tom’s Cabin *(TWTM 12th grade list)
Poetry: Dickinson *(TWTM 12th grade list)
Frankenstein -free reading *

Wow, that was an interesting exercise if nothing else. 🙂

The lists above, unless noted otherwise, are from our formal literature plans. I did not include on our lists all of the free reading books we read but rather just the ones that were included on the TWTM lists. I also found that we had read some of TWTM selections as part of our history and science plans and noted those above.
TOG binder year 2
For those of you who read my blog and lean more towards a classical style of education, this information may help you to see that using TOG follows fairly closely to the plan that is suggested in SWB’s book. It also should give you confidence that the lists of books in TWTM are not all that daunting if you break them down into formal literature reading, free reading, and include them in your science and history study as well.

Since I have no great background in literature, I often worry about my ability to offer a quality high school literature program for my children. Observing their progress and their enjoyment of great literature, I realize now that my boys are more than able to read and do a decent job of touching on major pieces of literature with a little help from me, the TOG plans, and Spark Notes, . We don’t have to like every selection or go too deeply if we are not interested in learning more. More often than not, my boys enjoy a book far more than I ever imagined they would.

This was a great way for me to build my confidence in our literature plans and has helped me to look toward to next year, my middle son’s twelfth grade, with optimism. My best advice is just to take your literature plans one book at a time and just keep moving forward.
Pansies snap dragons alyssum
After yesterday’s foray into the TOG website and trying to decide on next year’s direction for history and literature, I decided we will have to stick to TOG Year 4 Classic. It will be fine for what we need to cover. Thanks to everyone who helped me with email and comments to answer my TOG questions. I truly appreciate your help and indulgence of my little vent. 🙂

As much as I was frustrated with their website yesterday, I am still convinced that Tapestry of Grace is worth the effort, especially in the area of literature. Our high school years have been greatly supported by the plans and notes offered in TOG.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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