Do you have a child who loves to write? Do you have a child who hates to write? Either way, you need to read our story.
Since my childhood, I’ve loved writing. Hearing a teacher assign an essay or report was the highlight of my day. My daughter, on the other hand, loves to read but I recently learned that writing is her nemesis. She’s scared of it. Simply telling her that she needs to write anything other than a friendly letter makes her want to hide in her room, under her bed, with the door locked.
When I first reviewed the Analytical Grammar site, I watched every video, falling more and more in love with everything they offered. I didn’t know which item would be assigned to me for review, but I knew whatever arrived in my mailbox would make me happy.
Beyond the Book Report is a writing program geared towards students in 6th-8th grades and expandable into high school. Since my daughter is entering 7th grade, this was the perfect time for us to work through a structured writing curriculum.
The Beyond the Book Report package arrived, and I immediately opened it and organized the teacher pages into page protectors. BBR may be used with more than one child, so I put all of the seasons into a regular 3 ring binder with a pouch for the DVDs.
We popped the DVD into the laptop and eagerly awaited the first lesson! Watching them was just as expected. The teachers and authors, Robin Finley and Erin Karl, were a delight to listen to. Straightforward and lacking fluff, I wanted to take this course! It was everything I hoped it would be and more!
Then I looked at my daughter.
She stared at the screen with tears welling in her eyes.
I tried to be positive, “What do you think? I think it’s great!”
“I don’t get it,” she replied.
After explaining that we could review the lessons together and replay the lectures, she only became more frustrated. She didn’t want to review the lectures; she wanted to find the escape hatch.
Even though there was a rocky beginning, she continued to be a good sport, read her book, took notes, and tried to understand the different terminologies. Some days were more difficult than others.
But then things clicked, and she liked it! Activities designed to help students delve deeper into the literature, such as writing out questions for a crossword puzzle or a word search, were no longer scary; they were fun! I gave her the option of only doing one of the activities for now, but she wanted to do it all!
She now understands literary terms, knows how to use a rubric, has an appreciation for different genres, and is no longer afraid of writing. Because of our experience seeing the complete turnaround in our daughter, we plan to use the products from Analytical Grammar as a comprehensive Language Arts curriculum.
What’s the point of this story? One person loved writing, and the other didn’t; but in the end, both came out smiling!
Now, let’s get to the nuts and bolts!
How it Works and What it Covers
The “seasons” build upon one another, so if your child is in 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th grade, the suggested schedule begins with Season 1. If a student is beginning in 10th grade or above, it suggests their going straight into Season 3.
Within each season, the student begins by watching the lecture. Everything is nicely laid out and easily navigated. Pages for note taking are printed and correspond with the lecture slides.
Season 1 covers different report types:
- Basic Book Report
- Pamphlet Report
- Journalism Report
It also covers several literary terms such as:
- Paraphrase vs Summary
- Point of View
- Protagonist and Antagonist
- Mood, Setting, Tone, and more
Even though my daughter felt intimidated in the beginning, it was exciting to hear her explain the protagonists, antagonists, conflict, and point-of-view of other stories we read and movies we watched.
She also enjoyed creating her own puzzle and writing comprehensive reading questions.
Season 2 is more difficult and covers poetry and drama. Both writing and in-depth literary analysis are included.
As part of this season, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream are used for study. When we began Season 2, my daughter initially reacted the same as she did when we started Season 1. Fortunately, it didn’t take as long for her to warm up to it, and she went on to enjoy the poetry study, explaining the different types of poetry we encounter on a daily basis.
- Narrative Poem
- Drama and Stage Scene
- Figurative speech and more
- research papers
- thesis statements
- formulating an argument
- public speaking
- preparing for the SAT essay and more
While my daughter isn’t ready for the rigors of Season 3, I enjoyed a sneak peek and know that when it comes time for her or any of our other children to work through it, they’ll be equipped, having a well-rounded education in writing.
Where will we go from here?
While I plan to use Beyond the Book Report during our upcoming school year, we’ll shelve it until after we’ve completed Analytical Grammar Season 1 and follow the 3-year-plan. Using their grammar curriculum isn’t required to begin Beyond the Book Report; there are notes available for those who haven’t used Analytical Grammar, but I feel she’ll have a stronger understanding afterwards.
Even though my daughter struggled in the beginning, her current understanding of literary terms has increased. The improvements I see are real, and I look forward to seeing her have a strong grasp of grammar as well.
Each season of Beyond the Book Report is $24.95, or purchase all three in a bundle for $69.95. Since Beyond the Book Report can be used with more than one child, it’s an economical option for families with many students.
For more information on Analytical Grammar’s Beyond the Book Report: