How and Why to Use Literature Study Guides

This week on HSHSP Ep 164: How and Why to Use Literature Study Guides. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.

HSHSP Ep 164: How and Why to Use Literature Study Guides. Enrich but don't bore: Literature can be fun and meaningful for the whole family with wise use of Literature Study Guides from #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #HomeschoolLiterature #HomeschoolLanguageArts #LiteratureStudyGuides

HSHSP Ep 164: How and Why to Use Literature Study Guides

Sabrina and Vicki LOVE Literature! In this episode we are recording in Vicki’s office, not very fancy for recording: just a chair draped with a blanket for best sound production! We homeschool moms are often making do with what we have! That’s why we know this wise saying from Vicki: Motherhood is the necessity of invention.

Motherhood is the necessity of invention. Vicki Tillman reminds us that we can be flexible and adaptable in our homeschooling. Then we will love what we are doing! #HomeschoolHighschoolPodcast #Motherhood #Homeschool

Why use Literature Study Guides?

Teens often need a little bit of coaching or guidance to get the most out of a book. And we need some wisdom on how to give them that coaching without killing the book! That’s how 7Sisters Homeschool got started creating Literature Study Guides for our teens and for co-op and group classes. Our guides have been vetted by homeschooling teens and moms who love books and those who don’t love books because: You can be successful as a homeschool mom, even if you don’t love books!

Rather than bore teens with basic rehearsing the information in a book, good literature study guides can help teens build good thinking skills. Good high school Literature Study Guides give a few comprehension (just the facts) question but concentrate on inferential questions and teaching a limited number of literature themes. You can download the complete list of 7Sisters Literature Study Guides at this link.

However, younger homeschooler are not developmentally ready for inferential thinking. So, we 7Sisters found a way to create Literature Activity Guides for Elementary Readers!

  • These guides are quick, fun, hands-on reading activities that build skills using classic, age-appropriate books. It is a great way to develop their reading skills and nurture a love of reading. Try out You Are Special Literature Activity Guide to get started.

Activity Guide You Are Special

We also have a few Literature Study Guides Guides for late Elementary Readers.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH Study Guide

We have introduced a few Middle School Literature Study Guides.

Misty literature study guide


Some high school level books have so much happening in story and character that lots of comprehension and concrete learning must happen.

Born Again

    • The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. Mostly comprehension so that teens can keep track of character, events and timeline. There is also a *sum-it-up-process activity* toward the end of the guide.

The Hiding Place

Most high school level books should develop inferential (deeper thinking, implied information) skills.

  • The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis is a great example. While most people have read The Chronicles of Narnia in late elementary or middle school, teens need to revisit Narnia. Lewis reminds us that, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”

The Chronicles of Narnia Literature Guides

  • Adolescents are developmentally ready to deal with the symbolism, theology, and philosophy that Lewis embedded in each scene of each book.
    • For instance, The Silver Chair draws heavily on Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. This book is a book about the nature of reality, the development of character, and the necessary choice of believing.
    • Or in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, teens learn the concept of *sehnsucht* (the longing for heaven, for things they don’t know yet) that is deeply embedded throughout the book. Our teens have LOVED the revisit to Narnia!

Don't kill the book. Teaching too many literature concepts at once trashes a teen's love of reading. Try's Literature Study Guides for concise, interesting, meaningful Literature Learning. #HomeschoolHighSchool #HighSchoolLiterature #LiteratureStudyGuides #HomeschoolHighschoolPodcast

Most of the other high school level Literature Study Guides concentrate on one or two literary concepts (character arc, foreshadowing, theme, plot line, etc) so that teens don’t loose the love of the book by overdoing the teaching. We want teens to love to think deeply and love reading. You can’t do that by killing the book with too many questions or concepts so we keep the guides short and adaptable to interest and ability levels and personal goals.

How to Use Literature Study Guides for Homeschool High School

Now onto some ideas for using 7Sisters Literature Study Guides. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • We recommend using Literature Study Guides every single year but not for every single book. We recommend a rule of thumb of one study guide per month for an average teen. Two or more guides per month are good for college-bound teens.
  • Each 7Sisters high school Literature Study Guide includes suggestions for ways to complete the guide at an Average, College Prep, Advanced or Honors level of rigor. Choose the level of rigor a teen wants or needs. Get your teen involved in the decision!
  • You might find that some books are so interesting that your homeschool high schooler might enjoy working on an Honors level for that Study Guide. Some books may be more intense and even an Honors-level teen might complete some study guides at Average or College-Prep levels.
  • Also choose the number of Literature Study Guides based on the length of the book itself. Some books (such as Les Miserables– even the abridged version) are quite long. Do fewer long books and mix in shorter books like God’s Smuggler.

God's Smugglers Literature Study Guide

  • Don’t wait until senior year and cram all your guides in! Do some each year!
  • Remember to be flexible! There’s not ONE right way to homeschool. Some years, monthly study guides might be too much. Some years you need many study guides.

Join Sabrina and Vicki for this informative chat!

Want some more help with how and why to use Literature Study Guides?

Want some homeschool high school mom community?

HSHSP Ep 164: How and Why to Use Literature Study Guides

Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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