Hewitt Homeschooling is the creator of Lightning Lit, something I had often heard about, but never actually gotten around to using, until now!! There are Lightening Lit books for junior high and up, on a variety of topics. At Hewitt, they believe that “strong academics are only one aspect of your child’s education”. “Strong moral character, self-discipline, and good manners will produce a person others enjoy being with”. Personally, I have always said that WHO my children become is so much more important to me than WHAT they become, so this is a part of the Hewitt philosphy I agree with!!
The purpose of Lightning Lit is to introduce your child to classic literature, using full-length novels, poems, essays, short stories etc. with a systematic focus on getting to know the book in depth. For this review, I got to sample the High School level of Shakespeare’s Comedies & Sonnets with my oldest son.
Lightning Lit & Comp is written by Elizabeth Kamath, and in the introduction to the book, reading is referred to as a “partnership with the book”. I love this definition. I believe reading is an ACTIVE, rather than a passive activity. Lightning Lit & Comp encourages your child to interact with the books they are reading by giving them information about the characters, authors and time periods the books were written.
This particular book is written to the student, and the introduction includes information on reading literature, paper writing and poetry. The book begins with information about William Shakespeare, his life, they type of writing he did, and common literary devices one might encounter while reading his work (i.e. irony, soliloquys etc.).
As a former English teacher, I love reading! However, I have to admit that I always found reading and teaching Shakespeare a bit daunting. First of all, there’s the problem of the the style of language he uses, and then, so much of Shakespeare’s work is so subtle! To be able to help my son deeply grasp the nuances of Shakespeare is something I wasn’t sure I could do. Lightning Lit & Comp did make this much easier!
The first play we read was Twelfth Night. The lesson began with an introduction and a basic summary of the plot (which was helpful to refresh my memory 🙂 ). The curriculum suggests reading the play (or sonnets) straight through, aloud. This is a good way to read this type of work, but what would usually happen is my son and I would take turns reading. You could also easily get an audio version of the play if you wanted to. After you complete the reading, there is a lesson (to be read by the student) discussing the themes of the play (i.e. love), the individual characters and some of the literary devices included in the work you are reading. I found this information to be very thorough.
Each lesson also includes comprehension questions, and a few different writing assignments (I had my son choose one topic to write about). The topics were well-thought out, and the introduction gives information about how to write a paper, although for the high school level, a student would likely already be familiar with this. If not, I’m not sure you would use Lightning Lit & Comp to teach writing, as it doesn’t exactly have step by step instructions, but you could certainly use it alongside another writing program. The lessons continue in the same manner for the other plays/sonnets in the book. In total, with this particular book, your child will read four Shakepearean plays, and various sonnets.
In researching which of these books I wanted to use, I found that with the vast majority of them, all of the literature you need will likely be readily available at your house or at the local library! This was a huge plus to this program, as you won’t need to spend additional money on books! There is also a teachers edition available, which gives you the answers to all the comprehension questions, as well as information on grading the assignments, and a suggested schedule!
There are various ways to purchase this program. There is a Lightning Lit & Comp pack for Shakespeare’s Comedies and Sonnets, which includes the Students Guide, Teacher’s Guide, and all four of the plays you will need to complete the program (the sonnets are printed in the book) which costs $52.12. I think this is a very reasonable price, especially if you need to purchase the books. If you already have the books, then you can purchase just the Student Guide for $29.95 and the Teacher’s Guide for $2.95. Again, I think these are very reasonable. There are several different guides available, especially at the high school level, so even if you don’t want to do Shakespeare, you may find another guide that you want. Check out the Lightning Lit & Comp guides (and the rest of what Hewitt has to offer) here:
To see what other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew had to say about this, and other Lightning Lit & Comp Guides, click here:
**Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.