Although Mr. Stephens, the author and teacher, is a Christian, the curriculum is not Christian based. His goal is to provide a literature curriculum that focuses primarily on exploring and analyzing literary elements through short stories, shorts works of nonfiction, novels, and poetry. From this approach, parents have the option to teach their values and beliefs relating to events in stories or characters’ actions or reactions.
Each short literary work contains one small writing assignment (one paragraph in size) in addition to answering comprehension and connection questions. Independent Practice activities contain two small writing assignments (one paragraph in size). Students may complete one or both writing assignment.
Essentials in Literature uses a variety short works to teach elements of literature and uses recent works as well as the classics. Novels are a mixture of both as well.
The Essentials in Literature textbooks are not anthologies.  Each level includes a mixture of American, British, and World Literature.  Categories of each work are indicated in the Teacher Handbooks (7-9) or Resource Books (10-11) of each level.  They are also included in the “Literary Works” pdf for each level on our website.  Students who work through Essentials in Literature levels 9, 10, 11, and 12 (yet to be released) will be exposed to the equivalent of American, British, and World Literature courses.
Essentials in Literature comes with a complete textbook, parent/teacher handbook (containing a syllabus and an answer key), and one complete novel. Short works such as short stories, nonfiction pieces, and poems may be found by searching online. Search the internet using the title of the work and author’s name. In order to ensure that you are reading the correct literary work, include both the title of the literary piece and the author’s first and last name of your internet search.

See example below:

Short story: Stop the Sun by Gray Paulsen

Search terms entered at stop the sun gary paulsen

If you need assistance locating a literary work, contact customer service.

Please contact your charter school and have your vendor contact customer service at 417-256-4191.
  • Levels 7-11.
  • Release of Essentials in Literature Level 12 is pending
A list of all literary works that are explored for each level is listed in the appropriate level Literary Works PDF on the individual level pages.
Alternating is one of many effective approaches. Complete a writing activity (one week or more) then switch to a literature study (one week or more). The key is to allow the “flip-flop” to occur naturally without trying to hold to a rigid schedule. Additionally, there are many parents who choose to complete literature in the fall and writing in the spring. Both approaches are acceptable.

If you are using Essentials in Writing and Essentials in Literature, you can download the 34 Week Plan located on each level’s webpage. For a detailed explanation of all options, please contact Customer Service.

Yes. There is a video sample above and accompanying pages from the textbook.
Students learn to analyze the literature through multiple lectures, graphic organizers, and written answers. Students develop critical thinking skills by constantly reading about, exploring, and participating in activities such as seeing the relationships between events, analyzing characters actions and reactions, drawing conclusions, etc.
As with any curriculum, modifications may be necessary for students who struggle. However, because the approach is a day by day, step by step, small bite size chunk approach to literature, students typically fare well with this type of approach.

Level 10

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Level 11

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