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Schoolhouse Review: Writing with Sharon Watson

Do you want your children to be knowledgeable and discerning readers? Do you want them to become powerful fiction writers? If so you might be interested in our latest Schoolhouse Review Crew item we were blessed with. Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide by Sharon Watson or you may know her by: Writing with Sharon Watson.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

Here is what we received:


You can find samples for each book by clicking on any of the Illuminating Literature links above.

This is a two semester course. Upon completion your child will have earned 1 credit for either Language Arts or English. The course requires 8 novels (sold separately). It’s highly advised to use the versions that the author used so page numbers and so forth will match, making it easier and more enjoyable for the students.

Illuminating Literature has 9 chapters. The first chapter being 0. Chapter 0 is a welcome chapter- helping the child understand what a literature course entails.

Chapters 1-8 introduces one of the novels: Pudd’nhead Wilson, The War of the Worlds, The Friendly Persuasion, Peter Pan, Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High, A Tale of Tow Cities, Fahrenheit 451: A Novel, and The Screwtape Letters.

Each Chapter has between 5-10 lessons for a total of 70 lessons. One Chapter can take about a month to complete if you follow the suggested schedule.

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The Illuminating Literature course will teach your child:


  • Text and Context

  • Pseudonym

  • Foreshadowing

  • Conflict types

  • Protagonist and Antagonist

  • Satire, Irony, Theme

  • Genre, Mood & Tone

  • Narrative Shift, Ironic Ending, Plot Stages

  • Hero’s Journey, Voice, Style

And so much more. Your child will get an in depth study of the seven novels and one memoir. He will extensively dig into the view of the stories, the conflicts, problems, and how they solve them. I love that as the student works through the course he will compare and contrast some of the books.

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The Teacher Guide contains grading grids, answers for all the discussions (very thorough answers at that!), discussion starters, scheduling, and even a book-of-the month club for teens schedule.

The Student Workbook is consumable and you will need to purchase one per student. The workbook really makes it easy for the child to work through this course. There is a “Suggested Reading & Homework Plan” check off list. We like to check things off here at Homeschooling6. We like that checked-off accomplish feel (smile).

Each lesson as a “Before You Read the Book” lesson. This gives information about the author, gets the child thinking about the time period the book was written in. As you move through the chapter lessons (before you read the book) your child will learn literary terms, there are some question & discussions that really get your child thinking about the context surrounding the novel.

Once the child has read the book they get to rate it. We haven’t finished reading the first book Pudd’nhead Wilson yet so my kiddos haven’t rated a book yet but I know they are going to love doing so.

Your child will be instructed to complete the online quizzes and survey. What really neat thing about having your child use the online version of the quizzes & survey is it grades the work! I love that.

But if you are a more pencil and paper kind of homeschooling mama you can purchase the Quiz & Answer Manual.

Once your child completes the quizzes they will return to their workbook to complete a Vocabulary Quizzola then meet with mom (or dad) to discuss the book. There are thought provoking discussion prompts and questions.

The chapter concludes with “Your Choice of Activities”. For example with the completion of Pudd’nhead Wilson your child can pick to research their genealogy, interview someone of a different ethnic or background, paint or draw some of the characters, write a short story about twins, research and write a short essay on fingerprinting, and so forth.

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You don’t have to print the Novel Notebook notebook paper will suffice. But I will say the Novel Notebook is more fun and colorful than notebook paper or composition book.

When Worlds Collide Novel Notebook

How We Used Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide in our Homeschool:

I originally had planned to use this with Caleb and Brent. I purchased a second Student Workbook for Brent. He ended up taking a to California (a last minute thing). So it ended up being just Caleb and I.

Both Caleb and I have been working through When Worlds Collide together. We alternate with reading because Caleb struggles with reading still. This is one of the reasons why I wanted to do the course with him.

I also thought he’d get more out of the literature course if we met each day and completed the assignments together. If you have an average or strong reader Illuminating Literature can be done independently for the most part. Of course you’ll need to be there to discuss the book.

I also had intended to use the course 5 days a week with the boys but that didn’t happen either. I didn’t realize that Grandma E was staying for three weeks instead of one. Not a bad thing because we love having her but during her stay we were only able to meet three days each week instead of five.

Unfortunately we didn’t finish the first chapter because of the 3 day a week schedule but we both are almost done with reading the book Pudd’nhead Wilson.

The first week we completed Chapter 0 “Start Here”. The second and third week we worked our way through lessons 1-4. These first lessons were interesting because we learned a lot about Mark Twain like how he was fascinated with twins, he visited the Holy Land, and Mr. Twain (his pen name) was temperamental.

Caleb learned about conflicts against, self, another character, society, nature, God/the gods/fate, and technology. He learned that pseudonym is a false name but when talking about writers in means an assumed name a writer uses.

The literary terms Caleb was introduced to in the first chapter: Foreshadowing and Irony. He was instructed to use his Novel Notebook to record:


  • Record witty saying by Mr. Wilson. Especially ones that Caleb liked.

  • Write two examples of prejudice.

  • At least one place where Mark Twain uses foreshadowing.

  • Record something ironic.

  • Any ideas about why the Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson is, well a tragedy for Pudd’nhead Wilson

As you can see even though we didn’t finish the first chapter we did get to delve into the program.

Final thoughts:

I love how Caleb is really learning to interact with the book of Pudd’nhead Wilson with using the Novel Notebook. I am having Caleb underline, mark, and highlight what he’s suppose to look for. Once he finishes with the chapter he can then copy and record his answers in the notebook.

The ease of use is something I’m so grateful for. Sharon Watson truly made it so the course is not overwhelming. The way the lessons are divided, the suggested reading schedule, and even having the quizzes graded online at no extra cost.
Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Crew Disclaimer

4 comments

  1. Hi, Linda. I love your review of Illuminating Literature! Thank you!

    Does Caleb know how lucky he is to have you read these books with him? What a great idea to alternate the reading with him! I also like your idea to have him mark items in his book that he's supposed to look for. Have a great school year!

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  2. Thank you Sharon, we are really enjoying our Illuminating Lit. time together:)

    Sometimes our days can get pretty hectic so knowing we'll meet-up for literature is nice.

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  3. This looks great. My daughter will be in 8ty grade next year, so I may check into it for then!!

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  4. Spending time together--that's really the heart of homeschooling, isn't it! Keep up the great work!

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I love hearing from you all!