English Lessons Through Literature D Review

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A review of English Lessons Through Literature Level D.

I received English lessons Through Literature D free in exchange for a review. These are my honest opinions and I was not required to post a positive review.

I’ve been on the lookout for an excellent English curriculum that would give my children an excellent education without requiring us to be chained to the kitchen table all day.

And that’s what I found in English Lessons Through Literature D!

English Lessons Through Literature is an excellent English curriculum based upon a combination of the classical approach and Charlotte Mason approach. It uses beautiful classical children’s literature, the progymnasmata, and thorough grammar study to teach language arts.

And it’s a complete language arts curriculum!

You don’t have to purchase more unless you want to. This allows you to supplement the areas that are most important to your family without overloading your children. Or you can simply do the curriculum as written.

In my case, I’ve chosen to use the curriculum as written!

Beautiful Classic Children’s Literature

English Lessons Through Literature uses beautiful classic children’s literature for the lessons. In level D, the books are:

  • The Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell
  • Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  • “The Reluctant Dragon” by Kenneth Grahame
  • Heidi by Johanna Spyri
  • Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The children are not required to read the books by themselves. You can use audiobooks, read the books aloud, or read the books together. I’m reading the books aloud to my daughter before the lessons making our time together special.

I will say, when we first started reading through The Book of Dragons, she hated the stories. But she started loving the stories after the first one or two. It just took a couple of days.

The stories are well-paced. We’re only reading 3 or 4 chapters a week in order to stay on track. This makes it easy to keep up. And we’re enjoying the slow approach.

We’re able to savor each book instead of racing through to see how many books we can read in a year.

Writing instruction using the progymnasmata

The progymnasmata are a series of rhetorical exercises used since antiquity to teach writing. The exercises are Fable, Narrative, Anecdote, Maxim, Refutation, Confirmation, Commonplace, Encomium, Invective, Comparison, Personification, Description, Argument, Introduction to Law.

And the progymnastmata is one of the many things that attracted me to English Lessons Through Literature.

English Lessons Through Literature D concentrates on teaching children narrative or narrations. In level B, the narrations were oral retellings of Aesop’s Fables. Level D assigns written narrations of various types.

The types are:

  • Condensed Narrations
  • Amplified Narrations
  • Point of View Narrations
  • Slant Narratives
  • Scientific Narrations
  • Historical Narrations

In addition, there are different types of writing exercises throughout the 6 lessons you’re working with a model.

  1. Read the model and the student gives an oral narration
  2. Copia exercise to practice playing with words. Outlining will be taught later in the year.
  3. Either descriptive writing or literary analysis exercise
  4. Copia exercise where the kids practice changing sentences to make them different
  5. Copywork from the model story
  6. Complete the writing project with a written narration.

Much to my surprise, my daughter adores the Copia exercises. She enjoys looking up words in the thesaurus to find words with similar meanings.

And she loves, loves, loves changing the sentences!

Thorough Grammar

The grammar taught in English Lessons Through Literature is thorough. Among the many topics covered, kids are taught about the parts of speech, phrases and clauses, complex sentences, subordinate conjunctions, and diagramming.

Each exercise includes three sentences for the kids to label each part of speech and diagram. I love the labeling exercise! It’s cementing the parts of speech into my children’s heads.

And diagramming three sentences almost every single day has been amazing. My daughter can quickly diagram the sentences, so it doesn’t take a huge amount of time. But because we’re doing it almost every single day, she’s quickly becoming quite skilled at diagramming.

The constant review is allowing her to master the material without being overwhelmed.

Spelling Through Prepared Dictation

I must admit that I wasn’t certain about learning to spell through prepared dictation. And I picked up an alternative spelling program. But when push came to shove, my daughter and I decided to give prepared dictation a try before adding spelling into our day.

In prepared dictation, the child studies the passage for five or ten minutes. And then you read it aloud for dictation. Much to my surprise, we’re enjoying prepared dictation. I read the dictation aloud, watching my daughter closely so I can stop her the minute there’s an error.

The idea is that a child never sees a misspelled word.

And there’s a spelling journal for word analysis if you choose. It allows you to organize the words according to the phonological or spelling rule it follows. I printed it out but haven’t used it yet.

Instead, we simply analyze the unfamiliar words right there on the page.

English Lessons Through Literature D Includes Picture Study

Starting with the 3rd lesson, there is a picture study included in the lessons. The picture studies are a fun change of pace for us and cover 3 artists over the course of the year.

Level D’s artists are:

  • Edgar Degas
  • Pieter Wenning
  • Claude Monet

The picture studies are simple. We study the piece for a few minutes before I take the picture away. Then my daughter describes what she remembers of the picture. I return the piece, we study it for a few more minutes, and then we discuss it together.

It’s a lovely change of pace. And because only 3 artists are studied over the course of the year, it’s easy to supplement with an artist study if you choose.

How the Lessons are Arranged

Most of the lessons in English Lessons Through Literature D follow a similar format.

First, you’re assigned a chapter of the current literature book to read.

My daughter and I are currently reading through Black Beauty after finishing A Book of Dragons by E. Nesbit. The books do not need to be read independently by your child. You can read the books aloud or find an audiobook.

The literature books are in the public domain, so they’re easy to find at the library, on Amazon, at Project Gutenberg, or the Baldwin Project. I have chosen to purchase the books through Amazon.

They’re wonderfully delightful books and ones I see my children and I read over and over again.

Next, there is a short lesson.

The lessons vary throughout the year and week. Sometimes it’s a writing lesson. Often it’s a grammar lesson. The lessons are usually quite short.

Writing techniques are not assigned before they’re taught. For instance in lesson 5, my daughter was taught how to write a condensed narration or summary. The day’s fable was included with the lesson instead of after the poetry.

This meant that we read the fable as part of the lesson and then were walked through the process of how to write a condensed narration. And we were given an example of a condensed narration.

What a help! I love having a concrete example of what’s expected before we begin the writing assignment.

My daughter wrote a condensed narration the next day when we completed lesson 6.

Third, there is a poem.

A poem usually follows the lesson. These poems gave me all sorts of grief when I was trying to figure English Lessons in Literature out. Why would a poem be included without any questions or assignments?

To enjoy.

That’s right, the poetry is there to enjoy. You can discuss the poems. Sit down once a week for a poetry tea and read through the week’s poetry. Choose a favorite poem to memorize.

The daily poem has quickly become a beautiful part of our daily homeschool routine.

Fourth, there is a fable.

The first poem of every 6th lesson is a model poem for the upcoming written assignment. So in lesson 1, we read the model fable. In lesson 6, my daughter wrote a condensed narration of the model fable. Words and sentences are also pulled from the model fable for the Copia assignments.

But fables are included in the other lessons too.

Like the poems, the fables are there for you to use or skip as fits the needs of your family.

You can have your child read the fable to themselves and give you an oral narration. You can read the fable out loud and discuss it. Or you can read the fable and move on.

My daughter and I read the fable, chat for a few minutes, and move on. Like poetry, it’s turned into a beautiful part of our daily lessons.

Sometimes a short writing exercise is included

These writing exercises can include Copia, outlines, or oral narrations.

Oral narrations are assigned immediately after the model fable. We haven’t run into outlines yet. They’ll be taught and included later in the year.

The Copia exercises include two types of assignments so far. The first is to use a thesaurus to find synonyms for various words. We ended up using an online thesaurus.

The second type of Copia exercise is changing a sentence. A sentence is assigned and we’re told it needs to be made different in three different ways so far. Later in the curriculum, it will need to be changed in five different ways.

So far the changes are:

  1. The grammar needs to be changed
  2. The sentence needs to be condensed
  3. Use synonyms and antonyms

Much to my surprise, the Copia exercises have been some of my daughter’s favorite assignments. She loves discovering new ways to say things. Or making a sentence completely different by changing a few words.

The Copia exercises are like a word playing game to her!

Next, you have the grammar exercise of the day.

The grammar exercise follows a similar format throughout the year.

So far we review memory work. And then we’re given three sentences from the literature book we’re reading. My daughter double underlines the predicate, underlines the subject, and labels the parts of speech of each word. And only label the parts of speech she’s been taught.

Once that has been done, she’s to diagram each sentence.

The workbook has been invaluable for the exercises. Instead of copying the sentences into her notebook, the sentences are already written down with room for diagramming underneath.

Having the workbook has saved me all sorts of angst!

Last, you have the commonplace book and dictation

The commonplace and dictation passages come from the literature assignment.

The commonplace passage is to be copied into your commonplace book or into the workbook. I’m using the workbook, so the passage is written out in script with lines underneath for my daughter to copy on.

The dictation passage is to be studied before it’s dictated. Since we’re using it for spelling as well, my daughter and I go through the passage looking at the words. We discuss the rules behind the spelling of any word she’s not familiar with. And we talk about the rules of grammar.

When she’s ready, I dictate the passage to her and make any corrections the instant I see an error. The idea is that she should never see a misspelled word. The system is working better than I expected!

Of course, you’re not required to use the passages given. If you prefer, you can always choose your own passages.


Every 6th lesson is devoted to rewriting the model passage and these lessons are brief.

You’re given the assigned reading in the classic children’s literature book. Then you have a brief explanation of today’s assignment for the lesson.

There is a poem to enjoy but no fable or exercises are included. The commonplace assignment and dictation are also skipped giving kids plenty of time and energy to devote to the writing assignment.

And of course, a brief editing assignment is included in the day’s lesson.


The workbook which goes along with English Lessons Through Literature D is optional. But it makes life so much easier! The exercises, commonplace work, and dictation assignments are written out in the workbook.

So neither my daughter nor myself have to copy the exercise sentences in order to complete the work. Nor does she have to worry about the commonplace assignment.

It’s given to her right in the workbook. In a few years, I would like to switch over to an actual commonplace book. But for now, the workbook has made life so much easier for me!

English Lessons Through Literature is a wonderful language arts curriculum for my daughter and I. It’s challenging without overwhelming her. It includes excellent instruction in grammar and writing. And the reading assignments are beautiful classic children’s literature.

English Lessons Through Literature is an amazing curriculum!

More Information

And don’t miss my review of English Lessons Through Literature B!

english lessons through literature D

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