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Introduction to Literature- Excellence in Literature- English I Literature and Composition- English II- Excellence in Literature American Literature- English III- Excellence in Literature British Literature- English IV- Excellence in Literature World Literature- English V- Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers- Excellence in LIterature - by Ian Johnston and Janice Campbell

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2011-12 Blue Ribbon Award for Excellence in Literature: Reading and Writing Through the Classics

  • Self-Directed, Week-by-Week Lesson Plans

  • Classic Literature-Based

  • College Preparatory, with Optional Honors Track

  • High-School English for Home Schools, Private Schools, and Charter Schools

  • Awarded Favorite High School Product and Favorite College or College-Prep Product 2011-12 from The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew

Introduction to Literature - Literature & Composition

American Literature - British Literature - World Literature

The Complete Curriculum: Literature and Writing for Grades 8-12

Handbook for Writers

Free printable information sheet with 5-year booklist

The newest edition of Excellence in Literature is here (see covers above)!


Excellence in Literature: Reading and Writing Through the ClassicsHave you always wanted to read the Great Books? Now is your chance! With Excellence in Literature, you and your student can enjoy reading, understanding, and analyzing the greatest literature of all time. Excellence in Literature presents a feast of great literature along with the context information you need in order to fully understand it.

These challenging, self-directed courses introduce students to full-length great literature in its historical context, while developing skills in writing and literary analysis. English I and II provide foundational skills; English III and IV offer a chronological survey of American and British literature, and English V focuses on European literature.

"We love your program!!"

We love your program!!  My kids attend homeschool with a private tutor who has
used your series extensively with three out of four of her children, plus my two. She
has two in college and they have remarked that they could have never been ready
for all the college writing requirements if it hadn't been for this program

Thank you...

Jo from Lexington, Kentucky, via e-mail

You may learn more about how I chose the literature for Excellence in Literature in this blog post.

An Honors Track, with additional readings and writing, for each course encourages preparation for AP or CLEP exams. Some students who have taken this track have been permitted advanced placement in college based upon the material covered. Students who complete five years of Excellence in Literature have the potential of earning 24-30 hours of college credit through testing.

Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing co-published the American and British Literature levels, and has created a brief video to tell you more about about the curriculum. He discusses only those two levels but all five levels are the same format. They do not have to be used in order, but can be mixed or matched to other curriculum you are using (American Literature with American History, for example). Here's Andrew:

Course Format

The literature-based module format of Excellence in Literature offers students the opportunity to grow thoroughly familiar with some of the greatest writers and literary works of all time. There are nine four-week modules in each level.

Study and writing for each module is centered around a full-length focus text— a novel, play, or poem— chosen for its significance to the period of literature being studied. A reasonable number of context works, including poetry, short biographies, art, music, videos, and online resources, are selected to enhance the student’s understanding of the focus text, its author, and the literary period in which it was created.

There is an emphasis on the analytical essay, which offers the opportunity to perfect the standard writing process of planning, drafting, and revising. Shorter assignments in various forms will round out each unit.

"I have used EiL Introduction to Literature with my youngest son and we both loved it!

You have done an excellent job at providing quality literature analysis and composition for the college bound high school student. The most appealing thing about Excellence in Literature, which I did not indicate in my earlier email, is that so many of the works of literature you have chosen are interesting to boys.

I have been homeschooling my 4 sons over 20 years and each year it was a struggle to locate a strong literature program that contained classic works that would be interesting to boys/young men. EiL meets that very important requirement at our home and I jump at the chance to let other moms know that you have produced an excellent source of literary study. I am thrilled to recommend your products every chance I get. Thank you so much!"

Whitney from Mandeville, Louisiana, via e-mail

What's Special About Excellence in Literature?

  • Carefully-chosen great books increase cultural literacy.
  • Self-directed courses encourage independent learning.
  • College-style syllabus helps to prepare students for university academic experiences.
  • Week-by-week lesson plans make it easy to know what to do when.
  • Honors Option provides motivated students the opportunity to earn advanced placement or college credit.
  • Evaluation rubric makes grading simple.
  • Carefully designed end-of-semester evaluation reports provide a detailed snapshot of progress.
  • Context readings provide in-depth understanding of literature in its historical and artistic context.
  • Students will be introduced to books they will never forget.

Reviewer Cathy Duffy says:

"Students completing either of these courses should be miles ahead of most of their high school contemporaries in their ability to read and analyze literature at a sophisticated level. The challenging writing assignments also promise to develop student skills in composition to a high level." (Read the entire review at Cathy Duffy Reviews.)

Nothing captures the spirit of an age like great literature. These books that have stood the test of time allow readers to briefly share in another's life, and to learn from his or her successes or failures. Students who study literature in context develop a firm foundation in language arts and humanities, and are well equipped for wrestling with the important ideas and worldviews they will meet throughout life.

"Discovered some of her favorite books of all time . . ."

"Just as a note of testimony... I overheard a phone conversation [my daughter] was having with a friend this morning, and she was talking about literature with the friend. She said that she hadn't really looked forward to literature this year because she thought it would be dry and boring but had discovered some of her favorite books of all time this year, including The Great Gatsby (because of all the symbolism), 'Evangeline' (even though it's a poem, and she didn't think she liked poetry), and The Scarlet Letter. What a wonderful thing for me to be able to overhear!"

Heather M., AR

It takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature. Henry James, 1843-191

What is in each volume of EIL?

Here is a list of the content. You may view the focus-text titles in each level by visiting the links in the sidebar to your left.

The book is designed to be used directly by the student, with very little help from the parent or writing mentor, so the first part of the book explains how to use it, and each module is laid out with complete resource links and week-by-week assignment instructions. The Formats and Models chapter contains complete instructions and samples for the approach papers and essays the student will write, and the evaluation rubric will help the student and the evaluator determine the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of writing.

Part 1: How to read and understand classic literature with the Excellence in Literature curriculum

  • Introduction
  • Overview
  • Getting Started
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • How to Read a Book
  • Discerning Worldview through Literary Periods
  • Using EIL in a Classroom

Part 2: Nine four-week modules per year (see pages for each individual level to see what books are assigned)

Part 3: Guidance for writing and evaluating assignments

  • Honors
  • Excellence in Literature: Assignment Checklist
  • Excellence in Literature: Student Evaluation Summary
  • Formats and Models
  • Approach Paper Format
  • Historical Approach Paper Format
  • Author Profile Format
  • Literature Summary Format
  • Literary Analysis Model
  • Sample Poetry Analysis
  • What an MLA Formatted Essay Looks Like
  • Tips for Evaluating Writing
  • Excellence in Literature Evaluation Rubric
  • Excellence in Literature: Student Evaluation Summary
  • Glossary
  • Resources

Look in the left sidebar for links to other levels. You may order Introduction to Literature, Literature & Composition, American Literature, British Literature and World Literature or the Complete Curriculum as print books or e-books.

You'll find many of the context resources at the Excellence in Literature website, so even if a link changes, you can find what you need.

I offer a free sample module so you can see how the assignments are structured. Each unit has the same basic structure, so that the student knows what to expect and how to do everything. The explanations at the beginning of the book are long enough to be clear, but not so long as to be overwhelming, and the Formats and Models chapter, along with the Glossary, assures that students will be able to find out what they need to know. To get the sample, just click the link below, and the PDF will download immediately to your computer.

Free Sample Module


A special rubric using an evaluation model similar to the 6-Traits model makes evaluation simple for writing mentors-- including parents, tutors, or co-op leaders. You can find a link to a site with details of the Excellence in Literature evaluation on the FAQ page.

For parents who would like extra help with evaluations, I suggest finding a retired teacher or co-op leader who understands the curriculum. You may also visit the website of the National Association of Independent Writers and Editors (NAIWE). This organization offers a searchable database of writing evaluators who may be able to help with evaluating Excellence in Literature assignments. When you visit the NAIWE website, search for evaluators that work with academic writing.

If you choose to try EIL, you can be sure that your students are getting the in-depth, college-prep reading and writing assignments that you want them to have, as well as guidance for objective, accurate assessments. Excellence in Literature works!

Excellence in LIterature Complete Curriculum Third Edition by Janice Campbell

Is Excellence in Literature the most flexible literature curriculum ever?

It just might be!

Now you can get all the books in one big binder!

Excellence in Literature- The Complete Curriculum:

Literature and Writing for Grades 8-12

If you'd like to customize your curriculum by mixing and matching units, you can get the entire 5-volume curriculum in a binder so that you can custom select units for each year.

If you've already read a focus text for a unit, don't worry, just substitute an honors text!

Get it in a big, beautiful, professionally printed binder with tabs:

$139 + shipping (You even save $6!)

Get it as an eBook:

$135 (Since you don't have to pay shipping, you save $16-- or even more if you're outside the USA!)

My Background
I graduated with honors from Mary Baldwin College with a B.A. in English, and I have worked as a writer and editor since the late 1980's. My educational philosophy is most closely aligned with classical education, the Charlotte Mason method, and A Thomas Jefferson Education by Oliver Van DeMille. I come to the world of literature as a lifelong reader. I was raised in a home without television, so I have been saturated in the written word.

My husband, Donald, and I homeschooled our four sons from preschool into college, and I have coached other students in writing. During the development of Excellence in Literature, I taught the courses online for several years in order to test them on real students and refine them. That was a learning experience for all of us! My goal is to help students develop wisdom and virtue through the study of great literature, and to prepare them for the challenges of college-level thinking and writing.

Do you have more questions? Visit the individual pages for each book (linked from the left sidebar) and the Frequently Asked Questions pages. There are even a few questions answered on my blog.

In addition to Excellence in Literature, my books include Transcripts Made Easy: The Homeschooler's Guide to High School Paperwork, Evaluate Writing the Easy Way!, and Get a Jump Start on College! A Practical Guide for Teens.

Visit the Excellence in Literature website for context resources and so much more!

Remember to sign up for the newsletter, so you won't miss all the articles and news that can help you homeschool!

Free Rubric & Newsletter

Would you like a free copy of our reproducible writing evaluation rubric? Just type your name and e-mail below, and you'll be taken to a download link. You'll also receive my free monthly newsletter, with helpful articles and tips. Enjoy!

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