Progeny Press is a wonderful publishing company which celebrates the beauty of the written word, and provides study guides that allow your student to think beyond the pages they read. We were chosen to review Progeny Press' The Door in the Wall Study Guide and Uncle Jed's Barbershop Study Guide.
One of the best ways to get books to come alive is to encourage your child to explore them in new ways. We began by reading The Door in the Wall, a 1950 Newbery Medal winner by American author Margeurite de Angeli (1889 - 1987). This lovely story centers around a young British boy Robin de Bureford who struggles with crippled legs, the result of a childhood illness. As the Black Death of the 1300s in England sets in, Robin's parents prepare for him to be cared for by compassionate monks at a monastery until the threat has passed. Devastated by the events he doesn't understand, little Robin soon finds his own identity and learns more about strength through weakness than most able-bodied people ever do.
As soon as we received this book (to be obtained separately either at your local library or online) I realized the Old English style of writing and language would be a bit challenging for my Deep Southern gal, so we decided to listen to the story being read via an audiobook site. It was a great decision, and it really brought the story to life for us, listening to the narrator read it with a British accent.
Progeny Press' 39-page Interactive Study Guide for The Door in The Wall was brilliantly written by Andrew Clausen, is recommended for grades 4th - 6th, and retails for $16.99. I easily downloaded the guide from the website, and printed the worksheets as we needed them. The questions and activities within this particular guide are broken down into a couple of chapters at a time. Because of this, we would listen to/read along with two chapters of The Door in the Wall at a time, and then my daughter would work on the applicable worksheets from the Progeny Press study guide for a couple of days afterwards. I loved that the worksheets included vocabulary, grammar, language, critical thinking skills, character building concepts, and scripture references.
Moving slowly through the book and really digesting the meat of this beautiful story here was a wonderful way to progress for us. If your child is a faster reader and writer than mine, then you have the flexibility of using these guides in a way that works best for you.
Thought-provoking and scripture based, these study guides allow your student to see the spiritual side of the characters and force your student to see beyond the surface; beyond the obvious. To see some different pages of the guide and how my 5th grader worked through them, I am including some examples of her work below.
~~**~~We also reviewed a second interactive study guide from Progeny Press for the book Uncle Jed's Barbershop. The book is written by Margaree King Mitchell (1953 -), and illustrated by James Ransome. It is a Coretta Scott King Award winner, and I can easily see why. The Progeny Press Interactive Study Guide for this title is written by Rebecca Gilleland.
Uncle Jed's Barbershop tells the sweet story of Sarah Jean and her close-knit family of sharecroppers in the South around the mid-1900s. Uncle Jed teaches Sarah Jean about the importance of compassion, family, and never giving up on a dream no matter what adversity comes to distract. As I mentioned earlier, we live in the South, and the story of Jed and his special relationship with his niece Sarah Jean is both poignant and inspirational, and so relevant to the history of black people in the Southern states. The illustrations brought the story to life, and we felt closer and closer to each character with the turn of each page.
The Interactive Study Guide for Uncle Jed's Barbershop is 33 pages long, is geared for students ages Kindergarten through 3rd grade, and retails for $11.99. The book is easily read in one sitting for older children, so my daughter read it out loud to me, and then she worked on the study guide independently. This guide was also full of wonderful activities and think-beyond-the-obvious type questions. Using a guide to help your child glean more from a story is a wonderful way for them to learn!
Because my daughter was a bit older than the recommended age, I had her choose one of the After-You-Read options at the end of the guide. She chose to write about the featured dogs in the story, the English Pointer. She knows a lot about dogs, but did not know a lot about this breed, so she enjoyed researching for and writing this paper (well, as much as she can enjoy writing).
Progeny Press offers a great variety of interactive study guides on various genres of literature, ranging from Kindergarten to Senior High School. Their mission is "To teach our children to think clearly, to understand literature, and to rely on the scripture for truth and values, and enjoy themselves while they do it!" Now there's a mission statement with which I wholeheartedly agree!
Several of the members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have been using different study guides with their children over the last couple of months, so please click the banner below to link to all those reviews and learn more!
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