Master Books History & Literature Review

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Review By Sarah Shelton

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review. I was not financially compensated for this post.  All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way. 

Master Books
has recently released a new History and Literature Curriculum for the high school level that can be used together or separately. The books are written by James Stobaugh author of the ACT and SAT College Prep Course for the Christian Student.

The history and literature courses complement one another and the time periods match up. No more scrambling for book lists or searching for books to go along with what you are studying. In each chapter of the literature books there is a “history connection” at the bottom of the chapter introduction page in order to help the student study the texts consecutively. 

If you use the History and the Literature Curriculum together, your student can earn THREE high school credits per year. They will earn credits in history, literature, and composition, with about an hour and a half of work each day.

History Curriculum:

The Master Books History Curriculum comes with a student book and a teacher book. The student book is paperback and pretty thick, but nicely bound. This includes the reading text and the critical thinking questions. It has a lot of black and white photographs, which help to break up the text. The reading portions are not overly long and keep the attention of the reader without being boring. I enjoyed reading the material myself and found it to be very engaging.

There is a narrative background for each time period, critical thinking questions, concepts/generalizations, historical debates, world view formation, and history and world view overviews. Some of the assignments can be done inside the book while others will need to be done on a notepad or on a computer. At the end of each week the student will take an exam over the material learned that week. 

This curriculum is very student directed, which I like. The student is to complete the coursework independently with the parent checking and grading the work that is turned in. The book suggests that they can turn their work in daily or wait until the end of the week for the parent to grade all at one time. Using this independent study method, that requires the student to be responsible for keeping up with his/her assignments, will help to achieve higher ACT and SAT scores. The teacher books have the answers and tests and break down the assignments and give an overview of what the essay answers should be.

The History Volumes that are available are:

American History: Observations and Assessments from Early Settlement to Today
This volume covers Natives of the New World with the last chapter being the War on Terrorism. The last two chapters also cover many contemporary issues such as abortion, homeschool vs. private school education, euthanasia, global warming and health care. Some parents may want to discuss and read these with their children, though they are written in a Biblical, gentle, yet honest look at Modern America today.

British History: Observations and Assessments from Early Cultures to Today
This volume covers Early England, Ancient Scots, Celts, Druids, the Elizabethan Age, Golden Age, Industrial Revolution, Victorian Era, Modernism, WWI, WWII, the Cold War, through the 1970’s and present time.

World History: Observations and Assessments from Creation to Today
This volume covers Mesopotamia, the Jewish Exile, Egyptian, Greece and Roman Life, Early Church History, Japanese, Indian, Persian, Chinese, the Middle Ages, the crusades, the Renaissance, the Reformation, German History, the World Wars and South Africa.

Literature Curriculum:

The Master Books Literature Curriculum comes with a Student Book and a Teacher Book. The student books are much thicker than the History books. They are paperback and bound very nice and sturdy. They are divided into 34 chapters (34 weeks of lessons). The author suggests that each lesson should take about one hour a day, which includes the reading assignments and writing/essay work.

The chapters start off with “First Thoughts”, which is a short paragraph on the time period the literature is based on. You will also find Chapter Learning Objectives and a list of what the student should accomplish by the end of the week. The lessons include Daily Warm Ups which are in the student text. There are also Daily Concept Builders. These are 10-15 minute exercises on an important concept to be learned and are located in the teacher guide.

Assigned Readings are given and students should plan to read ahead on the required literary material for this course. It is suggested to read some of the required literature the summer before the course is taken. An essay is to be assigned each week by the teacher and turned in at the end of the week when the weekly test is given.

The Teacher book is three-hole punched with loose leaf papers that will fit into a binder. The Teacher Book includes Answer Keys, Student Objectives, Daily Concept Builders and the Weekly Essay and Test. The Tests are available in the teacher guide and also online. The Teacher Guide explains how to grade the assignments and includes tips on teaching your student how to critique books (elementary literary criticism). This teaches the student how to be a critic. There are also tips on how to create vocabulary cards to aid in using new words in the essays. 

This is a very meaty curriculum. Like the History Curriculum, the Literature is completely student directed. Some of the volumes do require up to 20 books to be read ahead of time. Many of these books may have already been read by your student in previous years. This is reminiscent of an AP style Literature course I took in high school. This is a solid Literature Curriculum that will prepare them for college coursework. Each chapter has portions of the literary text included to help them remember the book that should have been read ahead of time. Some parents may choose to eliminate some of the books to lighten the load a bit. The readings that are not included within the text are available at local libraries or online as a free download.

The Literature Volumes that are available are:

American Literature
The literary content covered includes works by: William Bradford, Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Stephen Crane, John Steinbeck, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson and many more selections of the finest in American Literature.

British Literature
The literary content covered includes works by: Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Daniel Defoe, Mary Shelley, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, John Donne, William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and many more selections of the finest in British Literature.

World Literature
The literary content covered includes: Epic of Gilgamesh, The Illiad by Homer, The Republic by Plato, The Sermon on the Mount by Matthew, Confessions by Augustine of Hippo, A Doll’s house by Jenrik Ibsen, The Stranger by Albert Camus as well as readings from Japan, India, China, Russia, Spain and many more selections of the finest in world literature.

I am excited to use both the History and Literature Curriculum when we get to our high school years very soon. I have not found another curriculum so thorough, while still being student directed. I really appreciate the high quality of materials used and the attention to detail in each book. Even the covers are attractive to high school aged students – inviting them to open it up and dig in. Master Books has really hit the mark on these sets!

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