Progeny Press creates literature study guides for children in grades K-12. They have hundreds of guides available and for this review, we got to sample two of them! We used The Hobbit Study Guide, and the Treasure Island Study Guide. We received both guides as a download to the computer.
The Hobbit study guide is intended for high school and, having read the book more than once, my oldest son wanted to dive right in! However, I made him slow down a little, so we could discuss the introduction and how the guide worked. Each guide begins with a synopsis of the book and a section that gives background on the author. There are also pre-reading activities included. These were interesting, and, even though we had read the book before (both as a read aloud and my son on his own) we still completed these activities. They were simple, but did give us some new information to relate to the book.
I decided to have my son re-skim the chapters as a refresher while he completed the study guide. It is divided into sections by chapter, with vocabulary and other questions and activities for each section. The most awesome thing about these guides for the computer is that they are interactive! My son could just read the questions and click or type his answer directly onto the computer!! This made doing the work much easier. There were also additional activities included, for example, a section of the guide talked about “characters” and how they are used and developed in stories, and one of the activities was to write a character sketch on someone from the book. I also appreciated the “dig deeper” section, where there were questions that related the book to passages from the Bible. Typically, my son and I would read the passages together and use these questions for discussion.
I was impressed with the amount of discussion on literary devices and story elements in this guide. In addition to characterization, there were lessons on metaphors, epithet, and setting, among other topics. I think it is important that children come to know these terms, especially while in high school, as they will likely hear them frequently in college literature classes. The guide ended with several topics that could be used for essays, as well as a few creative projects. I had my son choose one of each, and he actually enjoyed doing them. Since there were so many options available, he did not have trouble finding something to write about! The download includes an answer key, as well as an introduction letter that explains how to correctly enter answers on the guide. We found both of these to be very useful. The cost of the instant download for The Hobbit study guide is $18.99, and I think it is well worth it!
The second study guide we got to review was the guide for Treasure Island. This one is intended for middle school, so I used it with my 6th grade son. This guide is also interactive, and is set up in the same was as The Hobbit guide, with a synopsis, author information, and pre-reading activities. My son had not read this book before, so we went through this one a little more slowly. We actually spent the first week focusing on one pre-reading activity a day, to give my son some background on the book. He found these very useful, as they gave him some information to relate the story to as he was reading. Because of the old style of language used in Treasure Island, he has needed help getting through some of the book, so we have been reading some sections together. My son has found the vocabulary sections of the guide to be particularly helpful.
Again, the amount of literary instruction in this guide is impressive. There were lessons on mood, foreshadowing, stereotypes, and other topics. The “dig deeper” section gave us many appropriate biblical passages to read and apply to the book, leading to much discussion. We are almost finished with this guide now (as I said, my son is working through this one at a slower pace) but I have looked ahead to the end of the guide, and I already see three or four projects my son is going to want to do (some of them related to pirates 🙂 ). My second child is not a big reader anyway, and the language of Treasure Island has been somewhat off-putting for him, but he loves the story, and because he can easily do this guide on the computer, it hasn’t been much of a struggle to get the work done. The Treasure Island instant download costs $16.99 and also includes an answer key. In my opinion, it is definitely worth it!
Both guides are also available in CD and print format, although the prices vary according to the format you choose. Personally, I was so happy with both of these, that I plan to go through the selection of other guides available and choose a few for us to use next year. If you have more than one child using the same guide, you are permitted to save another copy so each child can have their own. These are some of the best, and easiest to implement, study guides we have ever used! To learn more about Progeny Press, and see the hundreds of products they have to choose from, visit their website here:
To see what other Crew members thought of these guides, and all of the other ones we got to sample, click here: