About Excellence in Literature

To introduce children to literature is to
install them in a very rich and glorious kingdom,
to bring a continual holiday to their doors,
to lay before them a feast exquisitely spread.

Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education

About Excellence in Literature

Excellence in Literature, a high school English curriculum.The Excellence in Literature is a literature-based high school English program for grades 8-12. It includes literature and composition, including essays, approach papers, author profiles, and several creative writing options.  Each year, there is an optional honors track with additional readings, writing assignments, and a research paper. A single study guide for each year contains everything — instructions for the student and parent, models for each type of paper assigned, and a rubric and instructions for evaluating essays.

What makes Excellence in Literature different?

This self-directed curriculum focuses on full-length classic literature studied in its historic, artistic, and literary context. That means your student will study great literature, see famous art, and hear beautiful music, all in appropriate historical context.

My goal is to help parents teach classic literature to teens, even if they don’t know Virginia Woolf from Beowulf

Benefits of the Excellence in Literature format

  • Self-directed lessons help students learn college-style study habits
  • Mix and match modules allow you to coordinate literature with other subjects
  • Instructions and models help your student complete each type of writing assignment
  • Included rubric makes writing evaluation simple and constructive
  • Optional honors track helps to prepare students for advanced placement in college or for standardized tests such as the CLEP
  • This Excellence in Literature website hosts many of the context resources needed for the study of literature and writing. They are free, and we are continually adding to what is available.
  • The Study Guide Link pages offer a complete page of links for every module so that students can start there and easily access context resources. We work hard to keep these updated so that links and resources remain current (please let us know if you find a broken link!).

Visit our home site, Everyday Education, for detailed information about the curriculum, what’s in it, how to use it, and a free sample lesson. From there, you can purchase it in print, ebook, bundle, or binder form.

Click each title below for a detailed description of the study guide.

Introduction to Literature (English 1) 
Literature and Composition (English 2)
American Literature (English 3)
British Literature (English 4)
World Literature (English 5)
The Complete Curriculum: Literature and Writing for Grades 8-12
Handbook for Writers
Recommended editions of classics for Excellence in Literature

EIL Course Format

The literature-based module format of Excellence in Literature offers students the opportunity to grow thoroughly familiar with some of the greatest writers and literary works of all time. There are nine four-week modules in each level.

Study and writing for each unit is centered around a full-length focus text — a novel, play, or poem — chosen for its significance to the period of literature being studied. A reasonable number of context works, including poetry, short biographies, art, music, videos, and online resources, are selected to enhance the student’s understanding of the focus text, its author, and the literary period in which it was created.

There is an emphasis on the analytical essay, which offers the opportunity to perfect the standard writing process of planning, drafting, and revising. Shorter assignments in various forms will round out each unit.

Reviewer Cathy Duffy says:

“Students completing either of these courses should be miles ahead of most of their high school contemporaries in their ability to read and analyze literature at a sophisticated level. The challenging writing assignments also promise to develop student skills in composition to a high level.” (Read the entire review at Cathy Duffy Reviews.)

Cultural Literacy

Nothing captures the spirit of an age like great literature. Books that have stood the test of time allow readers to briefly share in another’s life, and to learn from his or her successes or failures. Students who study literature in context develop a firm foundation in language arts and humanities, and are well equipped for wrestling with the important ideas and worldviews they will meet throughout life.

Free Sample Module

I offer a free sample unit so you can see how the assignments are structured. Each unit has the same basic structure, so that the student knows what to expect and how to do everything. The explanations at the beginning of the book are long enough to be clear, but not so long as to be overwhelming, and the Formats and Models chapter, along with the Glossary, insures that students will be able to find out what they need to know. Click to download a PDF of the sample module.

The Excellence in Literature study guides on Everyday Education are always the latest edition, so you may purchase with confidence through Everyday Education.

Please note the subscription form in the right column. I send a monthly e-newsletter with a roundup of the latest articles and resources added. I think you might find it useful. If you’ve already signed up at the Everyday Education site, you don’t need to sign up again —you’re already receiving it. I hope you enjoy it!

About the Author

Janice Campbell and her husband Donald homeschooled their sons from preschool into early college, using a lifestyle of learning approach influenced by Charlotte Mason, classical learning, and the Thomas Jefferson method. She graduated with honors from Mary Baldwin College with a B.A. in English, and has worked as a writer and editor since the late 1980s.

Janice’s books and resources reflect her focus on twaddle-free, active learning (she did have boys, after all!). She says, “I was raised in a home without television, so I’ve had a lifetime of marinating in the written word. During the development of Excellence in Literature, I taught classic literature online for several years in order to test the format with real students and make it simple and usable, even for students whose parents didn’t know Virginia Woolf from Beowulf. It was  a learning experience for both students and teacher! My greatest goal is to help students develop wisdom and virtue through the study of great literature, and to prepare them for the challenges of college-level thinking and writing.”

Janice speaks at conferences nationwide on subjects including literature, writing, homeschool planning and transcripts, as well as micro-business entrepreneurship for homeschool families. In addition to the Excellence in Literature curriculum for grades 8-12, she has written Transcripts Made Easy and Get a Jump Start on College, among other things. She is also the founding Director of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE).

You may read more about Excellence in Literature at the Everyday Education website. 

You may learn more about how I chose the literature for Excellence in Literature in this post from my blog. Also, you might want to understand why you won’t need a teacher’s manual or an answer key for this curriculum.

You may contact Janice with questions at support @ everydayeducation.com (no spaces).

Here is a very casual video tour of Excellence in Literature. Making the video was a learning experience for me, so it’s not professional, but I hope it will be helpful.

Note: In the interests of full disclosure, all books referenced on this site are purchasable from Everyday Education, LLC, the original publisher, or Amazon.com unless otherwise noted. For resources not sold through Everyday Education, LLC, the links are affiliate links unless otherwise noted. That just means EvEd receives a referral commission if the book is purchased, much as a consignment shop would receive a percentage of the price of goods it sold. We thank you for supporting this site with your purchases!