I am so excited to share how our family met the English literature and composition requirements for each year of highschool education. We used Movies as Literature!

In the words of the author, Kathryn Stout:
          “Movies As Literature was my way of helping kids who either have learning disabilities or are struggling readers–maybe reading too slowly to remember everything or unable to scan well to look back to answer questions. Also, those using audio books might find it difficult to pick up subtleties that would be helped by seeing facial expressions. Plus, it seemed like most questions I came across just went for the basics instead of some subtleties and because you can “rewind” and watch portions again, I could show them those subtleties and even help them become aware of facial expressions as an aid to understanding.
          Experiencing the story by seeing and hearing, I think, makes stories more appealing for kids that find reading tedious or simply miss everything but the obvious. Having said that, I also realized that the teacher’s guide had to include detailed answers for the teacher to use in discussing and explaining whatever the student didn’t understand. I always found it frustrating to have only brief answers or “answers may vary.” As you know, my goal has always been to help with ‘how to teach’ as well as ‘what to teach ‘so that homeschoolers can choose if and when to cover an objective based on their student’s needs, interests/talents, and God’s leading.”
          I heard Kathryn Stout speak at a small homeschool event in 1990. She was the first person I ever heard talk about non-traditional approaches to education and how to work with children who were not traditional learners.
          As a homeschool mom, I resonated with Kathryn’s words and, through my teaching, I was able to validate her method. It worked for all of my students because they tend to read what they are most interested in. Discovering a new method of teaching literature (for students with no interest in it) created some enthusiasm. This was an incredible asset as it gave my students a strong foundation in English literature.
          Since I had a traditional education, Movies as Literature opened the world of literature to me in a new and beautiful way. I learned along with my students and enjoyed the process. We were able to watch and evaluate many additional pieces of literature with the tools we learned. So, this is what it looked like at my house:
We would pop popcorn or get a pizza for Friday movie night with our family, friends, neighbors, etc. We loved this because my husband was usually home to contribute his insight and wisdom to the discussion. When the movie was over, instead of writing in the workbook, we discussed each question provided. If needed, we could rewind the movie to review different scenes and find answers. Many of these discussions provided opportunities to discuss not only the selected literature, but character decisions and moral choices. When one of our daughters attended college, she told us that she felt like those discussions really prepared her for being able to contribute in class with clear thought and respectfully debate differing ideas.
          Movies As Literature covers 17 pieces of literature. This allowed us exposure to more variety of literature.  During the second year we looked up British Literature with correlating movies and completed 23 more pieces of literature; not because we had to, but because it was fun. At the end of 2 years, we had studied 40 pieces of literature. I am not sure I could have discussed even 4 pieces of literature when I graduated from high school. Most literature textbooks only give a snippet of the story. I appreciated that my students got the full picture.
          To cover the composition component, I required my students to discuss their favorite character, scene, or other literary component, with the main goal of articulating their thoughts. They could write, type, voice text, or dictate. I realized composition wasn’t about grammar and spelling, but rather organizing thoughts in a way to share them with someone else. Then I had our students read what they wrote back to me. Ironically, many times they would catch spelling and punctuation mistakes or would realize they hadn’t explained something correctly.
          Movies as Literature opened up a whole new world of literature for our whole family. If I had it to do over, I would definitely still incorporate Movies as Literature.

Margie Abbitt is an Academic Counselor for Homelife Academy. Margie has been a part of the Homeschool World for over 35 years and loves to help families be set free to homeschool their children and the special way each child was created by God.