We have really loved using the Second Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press to explore great books like The Courage of Sarah Noble and Little House in the Big Woods. Unlike my older children, my current second grader hasn’t naturally loved reading or easily identified parts of stories the way her brothers did as second nature. She needs a little more guidance and a lot more structure when she reads, and so I was very excited to receive this set to try.
I really like to use great books, as opposed to some of the “pop culture” books that are now popular in schools. I want main characters with great character and values, not ones that tell other people to “shut up” on the playground. When I saw the list of books available in the Second Grade Literature Set, I was really excited. These are books that I remember loving as a child, and I was excited to share them with my daughter, especially Laura Ingalls Wilder. It wasn’t the easiest book in the set, but I decided that we’d start there anyway, because I was really excited to go back to the Little House in the Big Woods, myself!
I really like that the study guides include teaching guidelines right in the book. I also liked that included in the teaching guide it encourages you to alternate between teacher-read and student-read passages if necessary. My daughter gets tired of reading and then gets frustrated, even though she’s capable of reading harder material. This makes chapter books frustrating for her, so having “permission” from the curriculum to let her have a break for a paragraph was nice for me. My mom reminded me that in public school you read a paragraph and then someone else reads a paragraph and so on, but it’s a class of 25-30 kids, so you get a good long break.
I like that there is more than just reading comprehension in each section of the student study guide. There’s a “pronounce and spell”, vocabulary, an activity (like a compare and contrast or a “play pretend” or even an extension lesson like cooking a candy your family has a recipe for), and then comprehension questions. There’s also an “Honors Activity” section. In Little House in the Big Woods, this included learning more about Wisconsin, craft ideas, fact and opinion exercises about statements from the book, and even a “Use Your Manners” poster. None of the extra activities is very difficult or really required special supplies- we did have to run to the grocery story to get nuts to make candy, but it was grocery day anyway, and we could have picked something else!
The teaching guidelines encourage you to have your student do at least one composition activity a week, which fit in with what we typically do, which is a daily journal entry about a topic of my choice in addition to our writing curriculum.
When we moved on to “Tales from Beatrix Potter”, which we did next because we already owned the book and our set did not come with the readers, I enjoyed that there was a difference in format. If I was starting this program earlier in the year, I’d definitely start with the shorter stories, like Tales from Beatrix Potter, and end the year on The Courage of Sarah Noble and Little House in the Big Woods as my child increased in fluency and confidence. In the student book for Beatrix Potter, there is the pronounce and spell section, vocabulary, comprehension questions, and then each tale has a language lesson, such as identifying subjects and verbs, followed by a life lesson and an activity. Each student book is a little bit different to really get the most out of the type of story you are reading. Animal Folk Tales of America, for example, includes how to introduce the genre of folk tales in the teacher section, and the student section alternates between discussion points and art projects for additional enrichment
Finally, your set comes with an answer key- which is really very nice to have. While I typically read with my second grader, some days she’ll request to do her chapter with a sibling who is done with their work while someone else is having a lesson with me, and while I’ve read most of these books, sometimes you forget things like what Pa’s bullet pouch is made of!
Even if you’re not a homeschooler, I would really recommend ordering this set to use over summer vacation to keep your child reading. Teachers tell me all the time that the best thing parents can do for their children is to not let them lose skills over break. I’d go with grade your child just finished if they’re struggling, and grade they’re entering if they are more advanced, but check out the book titles to help you decide- you know your child best!