It's been a while since I did an orderly post about Julia's academic work this year. Today I'll focus on her literature study; that's my specialty, so I freely admit that I keep her well-supplied with good reading matter. Plus, she likes it. My goal is for her 8th grade reading to be about half at her grade level, and about half high school level, say 10th grade. My goal in high school is for her to be reading college material, so she'll be well prepared (and even ahead) when she goes off to college.
Here's her reading thus far this school year:
Treasure Island by Stevenson
Little Women by Alcott
"The Hound of the Baskervilles" by Doyle
The Jungle Book by Kipling
"Ozymandias" by Shelley (She memorized and recited this.)
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Orczy
The Call of the Wild by London
4 short stories from Chesterton's Father Brown Omnibus
Excerpts from Whitman's Specimen Days
The Red Badge of Courage by Crane
"Gift of the Magi" by O Henry
"The Adventures of a Shilling" by Addison (Okay, this is totally not late modern, but it was so cute.)
"A Pair of Silk Stockings" by Chopin
"A Wagner Matinee" by Cather
Whose Body? by Sayers
Death on the Nile by Christie
"The Outcasts of Poker Flat" by Harte
Here's what I hope she will read the rest of this school year:
"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Bierce
Daisy Miller by James
"The Secret Sharer" by Conrad
Animal Farm by Orwell
Lord of the Flies by Golding
In the Land of White Death by I-forget-his-name
The Hiding Place by ten Boom
The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway
"A Rose for Emily" by Faulkner
excerpt from My Antonia by Cather (or the whole thing, if she wants to)
Our Town by Wilder
I'll be adding plenty of poetry by writers like Frost, Cummings, Wilbur, and others.
The core of my list comes from Susan Wise Bauer's book The Well-Trained Mind. I made many changes. Many of the books she recommends for 8th grade Julia did not want to read (Gone with the Wind, Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, the Anne of Green Gables series, The Yearling), and many I felt were simply below her reading level (Number the Stars, Rifles for Watie, Across Five Aprils), and she was ready to read the better book that is a level up, like Red Badge of Courage or The Hiding Place. Several selections are merely to prepare her for longer or tougher reading by the same authors, later -- Conrad, Hemingway, Chopin, Faulkner, and Whitman fall into this category.
This is a hefty reading list for an 8th grader, but Julia, who loves reading and has a quick mind and excellent vocabulary, does it with ease. Other subjects are challenging for her. Homeschooling allows me to maximize literature, her specialty right now, and stretch her in this area. If she were still in a classroom, she'd be bored silly with reading in an 8th grade classroom, complaining to me and acting out in class. I know this because I've taught 8th grade literature. I also know this because it happened in elementary school. She was bored with the reading then.
If you're considering homeschooling seriously, know this: it can provide you the opportunity to nourish and stretch the strong areas of your child's academics, the things they love. You can dig into them, expand them, strengthen them. You can put your child light years ahead -- not to be competitive, but to keep them interested and engaged in the the things they love. There's nothing sadder, academically, than a child who's grown to hate the subject he used to love, simply because he's been bored to death, waiting for everyone else who doesn't love it. In homeschooling, there's no joy-killing waiting. It's one of the best perks of this method, if the parent is willing to do the work to help his child explore his favorite field.