About Excellence in Literature

What makes Excellence in Literature different?

Excellence in Literature: Reading and Writing through the Classics- An English curriculum for grades 8-12This five-year curriculum focuses on full-length classic literature studied in its historic, artistic, and literary context. That means you study great literature, see famous art, and hear beautiful music, all in appropriate historic context.

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

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. These 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 Unit

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, assures that students will be able to find out what they need to know. Click to download a PDF of the sample unit.

As of spring 2014, all levels of Excellence in Literature have been updated and the new editions are ready to ship; you may purchase them through the Catalog.

About the Author

Janice Campbell, author of Excellence in Literature, an English curriculum for grades 8-12Janice 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, high school records and transcripts, as well as microbusiness and multiple streams of income 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 Director of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE).

You may read more about the curriculum 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.

Here is a very casual video tour of Excellence in Literature. It was a learning experience, 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!

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18 Responses to About Excellence in Literature

  1. Jana Carpenter says:

    Hello.
    I have homeschooled for over 20 years and am discovering the wealth of resources now available for my last two students (boys!). We have enjoyed IEW and are signed up for another year with Mrs. White. Your materials resemble the same written ones at IEW. Are you affiliated?

    My boys have done some literature with me in the past. They are now going into the junior year of high school. What level would you recommend? All of it looks beneficial for them.

    Thanks so much!
    Jana

    • Janice Campbell says:

      Hi, Jana,

      Thank you for visiting! Yes, IEW publishes some of my books. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying IEW, as it’s a good foundation for the writing they’ll be doing in the coming years.

      Have your boys done survey courses in American and British Literature? If not, those might be the place to start if they are college-bound. If they are not college bound, they may want to begin with the level that has the most appealing literature. They can jump in anywhere, but the levels graduate slightly in difficulty, with World lit being the most challenging.

      I hope that helps!

      Janice Campbell

  2. Hi Janice, I found this site very interesting – especially the material on the Daffodils poem – and thought you might be interested in looking at my debut novel, Dances with the Daffodils, which I’ve just published on eBook and am about to publish in paperback. I’d be very keen to know what you think of it, bearing in mind your interest in literature.
    Do let me know if you’d like some more information.
    Regards
    Matthew Connolly

  3. Tricia Puritz says:

    Hi,
    We have 2 questions please.
    We are considering using this program in a co op setting. Is this is good idea?
    Also, if we choose to use it, can you choose between the honors texts and original texts based on each unit and student choice (student preference for the titles) or must you follow one text line only (regular track only or honors track only)?
    Thank you!

    • Janice Campbell says:

      Dear Tricia,

      EIL works well in a co-op setting, and in the latest edition, I have included suggestions for using it a co-op or classroom. There are several different ways to approach it, and I think the co-ops that have used it have enjoyed it.

      You are welcome to make choices about which text to use for each unit, but the context resources are geared primarily for the focus text. Since the honors text relates in some way, some of it will apply, but not all of it. You can always visit this website to check for additional context resources if you decide to use an honors text instead of the focus text.

      I hope that’s helpful!
      JPC

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  5. Brittany says:

    Is this curriculum just a literature/writing curriculum or a full English curriculum? I was wanting a literature/writing based curriculum that is worth a full credit each year.

  6. Suzanne Alioto says:

    What is the difference with the honors books? My son is going into 8th grade. Do you advise doing all the books, including the honors?

    • Janice Campbell says:

      Hi, Suzanne,

      The honors track is completely optional. If you decided to do it, your student would read the honors books in addition to the focus texts. Some students space them throughout the year, while others have used them for summer reading.

      I would suggest making a decision based on the student’s aptitude and experience with literature. If he loves to read and enjoys thinking through great books, or if he is planning to attend a very selective college, the honors option might be a good idea. If he’s a math/science person who would rather be be dissecting something than reading, the regular track is fine for him.

      My goal is for students to enjoy the literature and work through it at a pace that allows them to think and absorb these great works without incurring literary indigestion, so please feel free to do what works for your family.

      Warmly,

      Janice

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  8. Rebecca says:

    Can you tell me the editions of your books? I know that IEW and Rainbow have the 3rd edition for the American Lit. and the British Lit., but was wondering if the other three books have been updated, and if they are available through your website. Thank you!!

  9. Rebecca B says:

    Hello,

    This year was our first year of homeschooling and we chose your program for my 10th grade daughter. She loves the program and has been doing very well with it – choosing the honors track. We began with your program at the beginning with Intro to Literature because I felt her 9th grade year in public school was lacking in so many ways. Now I am wondering how to fit it all in before she is ready to go to college – or rather how to choose what to do from each level. I wonder if I shouldn’t have been doing American Lit with her American History this year (she is not quite done with your program or her history studies). I was wondering what you would recommend as far as maybe purchasing the remaining levels of your program and then choosing from various levels based on her history studies. I would probably begin with choosing some of the American Lit Units to correspond with the remainder of this years’ history and then move from there. My only concern is that somehow the units build on one another or that if we had to reduce the number of units done from each level to get all 5 levels in before college, she would miss something important.

    Thank you so much for any thoughts you might have on this.

    • Janice Campbell says:

      Dear Rebecca,

      I’m so glad your daughter has been doing well with EIL. You may definitely get the remaining levels and pick and choose those that will work best for her. The program is designed to make this possible, and there’s even a binder version with all five levels that is printed with each module laid out so that it can be pulled out for mixing and matching. All the types of writing cycle through the levels, so she should eventually work with everything if she goes through a significant number of modules. Any number will be better than none!

      It is always beneficial to do compatible literature and history (American literature with American history, etc.), but she’ll do fine, even if you can’t do them together. The American and British levels are chronological surveys, so it’s very easy to blend them with almost any history program. The order of the selections in World Lit can be switched around to fit whatever world history or western civilization curriculum you use. I hope that is helpful!

      Warmly,
      Janice

  10. Kelly says:

    Hello!

    I am trying to piece together my son’s 10th grade curriculum! He will be doing the IEW online class, level C, for his composition piece of English.
    My dilema is trying to find a World History curriculum that we like and then a literature program to complement that. I read that you recommend your World History literature for grade 12.
    Any advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated!!

    • Janice Campbell says:

      Dear Kelly,

      EIL is designed to be flexible, so you can use World Literature at a lower grade level. The biggest challenge is that the books they read in this level are pretty challenging. You may want to do a bit of extra discussion with him to be sure he is understanding the big issues and underlying themes. It is always helpful to match your literature and history, so from that perspective, I think World Lit would be the right choice for him. I hope that helps!

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