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As homeschoolers, we have a lot of freedom in how we teach our children. And reading is one of those topics where we often excel. Some of us enjoy filling our days with reading books while sipping hot cocoa. Others prefer having our children use textbook anthologies and worksheets so that we can easily see whether or not they are comprehending what they are reading.

Homeschooling High School: American Literature

Once our kids hit the high school years, however, we want to be sure we’re preparing our kids for college, trade school, internships, or the working world and sometimes we begin to second guess whether or not what we’re doing enough. If you want to take away some of that doubt when it comes to teaching high school literature, you should consider using Apologia’s American Literature course.

I received this product for free and was compensated for my time but all of my opinions are honest and I was not required to post a positive review.

Homeschooling High School: American Literature


  • 844-page textbook
  • Written from a Biblical Christian Worldview
  • Covers the Colonial Age, the Age of Reason and Revolution, The Romantic Age, The Age of Realism, and the Modern Age
  • 650-page student notebook with Study Questions for each reading
  • Also includes access to a FREE downloadable Answer Key and Daily Lesson Plan Outline
  • Written by Dr. Whit Jones who was the 2017 Recipient of the Educator of the Year Award from Bryan College, where he is a professor. Dr. Jones is a homeschooling father and has also taught his American Literature courses to homeschooled students.

Apologia American Literature is one of the most thorough courses I’ve ever seen!

The student textbook itself is filled with reading selections which cover works written by classic authors such as William Bradford, Phillis Wheatley, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, Mark Twain, and many more. The textbook also includes colorful and interesting introductions about each time period and author that provide context for the students before they dive into the readings.

My Initial Thoughts About the Program

My older son is a junior in high school this year and when we had the chance for him to try out Apologia American Literature, I was excited. We’ve used and loved many of their science courses over the years so I was pretty confident that we would also love this newer course as well.

When the box first arrived, I was impressed with how beefy the books appeared. The books were thick and filled with beautiful, color photographs and illustrations. I was happy to see that Apologia included a wide range of materials to study from Native American myths and poems to books and speeches.

Homeschooling High School: American Literature

Using the Program

When we actually started to use the program, however, I was honestly intimidated. The earliest readings, which were written during the Colonial Age, were difficult to understand and they contained a lot of complex vocabulary words and sentence structure. I found the study guide questions extremely helpful for these excerpts because my son and I were able to go back through the passages together and search for the answers. Without doing this, my son probably would have just skimmed through the reading without actually understanding much of it.

As the year went on, the excerpts become newer and the readings become less difficult and more enjoyable. With this course, the first half of the year is spent reading through the textbook and the second half is mainly spent reading through several classic works in their entirety including the following:

  • Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

My older son is an avid reader so he has been able to keep up with the reading. But you should be ready to pick and choose which works you want your child to read because it’s certainly not necessary to read them all. In the introduction to the book, Dr. Jones gives this advice, “Your parent/teacher will determine whether you will be assigned to read all of these works or only a majority of them. It is better to understand fewer works well than to have only a superficial comprehension of a larger number of works.” I wholeheartedly agree!

Benefits for Students

If your student is looking for a course which will help prepare him for college-level literature studies then Apologia American Literature is an excellent choice. It includes lots of vocabulary notes throughout each passage which will save your student the time of looking up unfamiliar words in the dictionary. And the student notebook has plenty of space for them write his or her answers which also saves the time of having to rewrite each question from the textbook.

This class is also a nice mix of textbook reading and reading real books, which I appreciated.

Benefits for Parents

I love having my boys read books as often as possible. However, it can sometimes be a lot of work to try to track down questions to ensure that they are comprehending what they are reading. This is especially true as they get older and they’re reading so much that it’s impossible for you to read everything as well.

Apologia American Literature makes teaching classic literature easier on parents. It includes access to a downloadable answer key as well as a daily lesson plan outline. This guide breaks all of the lessons down into 36 weekly segments and takes the work out of lesson planning.

Homeschooling High School: American Literature

Ways to Adapt the Course for Your Student

Apologia American Literature is a challenging course and it’s quite different from the way we’d previously been studying literature in our homeschool. That being said, it has been an excellent way to build my son’s confidence in his academic ability and to hone his skills so that he’ll be more ready to take on college-level coursework in the very near future.

If you want to provide an in-depth American Literature course for your student but you aren’t sure he or she is up to the challenge, there are ways to adapt the material to make it more accessible to the average student:

  • Pick and choose from the readings rather than having your student attempt to read everything
  • Answer questions orally, choosing the ones you want him/her to answer
  • Listen to audiobooks during the second half of the year
  • Spread the coursework over two years versus one

As always, Apologia has created a top-notch course which does an excellent job of giving students an extensive overview of American Literature from the Colonial Period to the Modern Era. It will fully prepare your student to take college-level literature courses.

Homeschooling High School: American Literature

Two Free Ebooks

For many years, Apologia has had a heart for the homeschool community. They are currently offering two FREE e-books called The Joy of Homeschooling and A Day With Two Dawns to anyone who joins their Homeschool 101 Community.

If you’d like to find out more about Apologia American Literature, you can download a FREE sample and FAQ on their blog or you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

Have you used Apologia American Literature? I’d love to know your thoughts about the program. Please leave a comment below!

Homeschooling High School: American Literature