Introduction to Literature and Composition

Grades 8-9

Following our Language Arts 1-4 series, this course continues to strengthen students’ skills in the art of reading and writing, preparing students for high-school-level English courses. Students learn how to form a thesis, apply correct grammar, and discuss literature with their fellow students.

Learn to craft cogent arguments; practice the art of rereading and rewriting; master the grammar rules about commas, semicolons, and clauses; and analyze and imitate master authors. Book selections encourage discussion about the difficulties of growing up amid the joys and struggles of becoming an adult.

Students in this course will read four novels, one play, and several essays, poems, and short stories. They will write a descriptive essay, two persuasive essays, and a business letter using MLA formatting. They will memorize two poems, and they will learn the names and usage of many important literary devices, such as simile, metaphor, and irony. They will also learn about plot structure and character development, all while practicing the art of conversation with fellow students. Each semester will end with a short exam.

This course is ideal for 8th graders ready to develop and refine their reading and writing skills, but it will also serve as an excellent introduction for high school students.

For students who are prepared for the reading and writing in this course but could benefit from strengthening their grammar skills, we highly recommend registering for Advanced Grammar to supplement Introduction to Literature and Composition.

NOTE: This is a course in both reading (literature) and writing (composition). This means that an appropriate amount of time should be set aside for weekly work, since reading and writing are both tasks that should not be rushed. Since each student will read and write at different speeds, we recommend planning on five hours of work outside of the two hours of live class time each week.

Please note that this class requires a significant amount of handwriting, in order to develop foundational habits of thought.

Prerequisites: Language Arts III or equivalent preparation

  • "Tessa Carmen’s Introduction to Literature and Composition class was outstanding and rigorous. It exceeded my expectations in every way. I am astounded at the level my daughter was able to achieve under her tutelage."
    - Paige C., California

  • "Mrs. Carman's class was a great fit for my son.  It was well done, super organized, great constructive guidance, and just what he needed to build skills — especially for a reluctant writer.  I feel he learned a lot and was able to better open his mind for writing.  We have struggled in that area greatly over the years.  So this was perfect for him! "
    - Melissa G., Tennessee

  • "My son had such a fantastic experience at CLRC! Tessa Carmen is the best teacher he's ever had. My son was having a blast memorizing and reciting Shakespeare. Never thought I would see that!"
    - Jim C., Oregon

  • "I wanted to send a quick email to impress how very happy I have been with my son’s English classes. Dr. Baumert and Mrs. Carman have provided an excellent supportive program and class environment for him. I have seen his writing grow in breadth and maturity, and I have seen his confidence grow in mastering more aspects of grammar. The courses have been equal parts challenging and nurturing and I really sense they have inspired my son to put in continued effort. It's lovely to see!"
    - Karen J, North Carolina

Is this a Literature Class or a Writing Class?

Both! Reading and writing well are taught as complementary skills in this course. Accordingly, students should plan to set aside enough time to both complete reading assignments and writing exercises each week. The time required for such work will depend on the student, but for initial planning, students should set aside around five hours for work outside of class time to complete their work.

Reading and writing well are exercises in paying attention to the world. Whatever stage in life we are in, these complementary skills—reading (literature) and writing (composition)—are those in which we can always improve. Thus, the aim of this course is for them to grow in the art of attention, so as to better live a full and human life—whether or not a student attends college.

A Note on Writing Instruction

The writing process is taught step by step, beginning with brainstorming, research, and outlining; continuing with drafting and redrafting; and concluding with editing, receiving feedback, and revising. In addition, through the literature students read and summarize each week, they practice reading carefully and summarizing accurately and precisely—both skills used in the essays. As the grammar rules and literary terms are introduced, they are also integrated into reading and writing work.

About Prerequisites

To fully take advantage of this course, students should be familiar with the following:

  • Eight parts of speech
  • Subjects and predicates
  • Writing book reports/summaries

Please note that no persuasive essay writing experience is necessary. This is a skill that is introduced during this course.

“I learned a long time ago, Reuven, that a blink of an eye in itself is nothing.  But the eye that blinks, that is something. A span of life is nothing. But the man  who lives that span, he is something. He can fill that tiny span with meaning, so its  quality is immeasurable though its quantity may be insignificant. Do you  understand what I am saying? A man must fill his life with meaning, meaning is not  automatically given to life.”

Chaim Potok, The Chosen