Thursday, October 6, 2016

Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers #REVIEW

 One of my favorite courses to teach is English. However it is also one of the most intimidating. There are so many grammar rules, sentences structure rules and even essay writing rules. When the kids are little we cram all this information in and when they reach high school level courses we expect these kids to be competent when it comes to literary analysis, writing papers and constructing logical arguments on paper. It is a lot to come together and master. As an adult looking back on my personal experience in school I realize that I did not learn a whole lot in my high school. That meant learning and studying to be able to teach my students. Everyday Education, LLC sent me their Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers for review. 

What is it?

 I received the PDF version of this book. So what is it? Essentially it is a complete handbook which can be used by students or teachers for reference or teaching. Janice Campbell created this book by blending two reference books by Ian Johnston that focused on Essays and arguments as well as usage and style. She combined and edited this to make it a reference work. This book covers a ton of topics, I am going to name the main topics but keep in mind that under each of these topics is many sections of information. This book is big - 420 pages big! 


  • Introduction To Handbook
  • Introduction to Essays and Arguments
  • Arguments: Some Simple First Principles
  • Setting Up The Argument Definition
  • Definition with Defining Terms
  • Deduction and Induction
  • Organizing the Main Body of an Argument
  • Paragraph Structure
  • Paragraph Functions
  • Writing Arguments About Literary Works
  • Sample Outlines For Essays and Research Papers
  • Critical Approaches to Shakespeare: Some Initial Observations
  • Some Criteria For Making Literary Evaluations

Part 2: Introductions to Usage and Style


  • Phrases, Clauses, Sentences
  • Words
  • Basic Punctuation 
  • Pronouns
  • Parallelism or Parallel Structure
  • Modifiers, Gerunds, Infinitives
  • Clarity, Logic, Structure
  • References and Bibliographies
  • Basic Format for Essays and Research Papers
  • Keyhole Essay Graphic
  • The Six Sections of an Approach Paper
  • 11 Things a Paragraph Can Do
  • Rubric For Writing Evaulation

How We Used It

This book is a lot to take in. At first I was going to set off to reading it from cover to cover but quickly saw that was not going to be the right approach.I read through a good bit of the writing sections for my personal growth then realized that this is more of  a reference book and  it is easier to look up topics and either read/teach from those sections.

I landed on the grammar section. There are so many areas there that worked for teaching my students. We are not doing formal grammar at this point so this was a great way to give a quick five minute refresher. I really liked the section where it went over which word to use in a given situation. for example: quiet/quite/quit) The book also went over things like when and how to use a hyphen and apostrophe. These were easy, quick reminder lessons I shared with the boys. 

I plan on continuing to use the grammar sections but I also want my oldest son to read through the book over the next year. The writing portion is so complete that I know it will help him improve his papers by defining what he is writing and choosing a clear side for his argument. 

My Thoughts:

I feel like this book is a tremendous resource. We received a digital version but it is actually sold as  as a bound book for $39.00. (I recommend the bound version) I will be purchasing this book in the near future because the digital version is not easy to navigate at 420 pages. I also like the idea of being able to keep this on the shelf to pull out when needed. Next year I will have my first senior. One of the big projects we have planned for graduation is a Thesis and I know this book will be a great asset for my son to come up with the paper needed for graduation. I can see this book going onto college with him and me having to purchase a second copy at that time. The amount of information covered in this one volume is really a treasure. 

 Be sure to click on the graphic below to see what the other reviewers thought - additional products reviewed were Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting and Working it Out: Poetry Analysis with George Herbert.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

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