Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide, A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Illuminating Literature When Worlds Collide from Writing With Sharon Watson was offered to us at a time that fit in perfectly with our high school literature credit needs. My girls are both in high school now, (one is a senior!) and we have been working on transcripts. They both love to read. We have used various programs before and joined friends in group book studies, but this program has been refreshingly easy to follow. My senior is focusing on selections from American history this semester, too, so many of these books blended well with her plan. Sharon Watson summed it up perfectly during her kick off Facebook party for this curriculum: "unstuffy." Illuminating Literature is exactly that--an easy to work through engaging way to discuss American literature.

For this review, we received the Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Student Workbook, Teacher's Guide, Quiz and Answer Manual, downloadable Novel Notebook, and the first two books used in the curriculum. All eight books used ( seven novels and one memoir) are linked on her website for purchase of the recommended editions. 

This review also included an unexpected surprise. In addition to notes to the teacher/parent of the student, leader direction is provided for a group as well as the individual lessons. Schoolhouse Review Crew friends joined together to form a Facebook group, a virtual literature discussion group when we started this review. The surprise was that the author joined us there, too, and has been responding to our students and encouraging even more discussion. 

Several weeks ago, a friend in our homeschool group suggested our high school students meet together for a literature group. (The younger kids will be doing art and PE.) She selected the books, and several of the ones planned are also in this curriculum. I'll be prepared to help lead those discussions. 

This literature curriculum is comprehensive for one high school credit. In addition to the workbook, the additional resources online helped round out the study. It is recommended to cover two semesters and count as a literature, English, or language arts credit. 

When we started to use Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide, we first printed a copy of the novel notebook (downloaded free from Sharon Watson's website) for each of my daughters. They took turns reading the books which uncharacteristically we read in the order recommended.  My oldest daughter used the student workbook and I discussed things from the teacher's guide and quizzes with them. Quizzes are also available online. They were able to participate in the online group, write their thoughts in their novel notebooks, and discuss the books with me. 

Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain was the first book covered. None of us had ever read it before, and it was a stretch from our typical choices. Even though the story itself wasn't our favorite, the topics presented were clearly represented in the choice, such as irony. My oldest daughter did find the unexpected aspects interesting. The questions and vocabulary quizzes in the student workbook provided another chance to review the story.

Some of the other concepts covered in this curriculum are figurative language, point of view, and narrative shift. There is so much more! 
Rich vocabulary studies are seamlessly built in using words from the books. 

My 11 year old became interested in this study when he saw the cover of the second book: The War of the Worlds depicted an alien. Although he isn't using the student workbook and other resources or completing the quizzes, I am adapting some of the discussions to include him, too. 

If you want to help your students become more discerning readers, I recommend this homeschool literature curriculum.  

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
**Those of you reading this before August 31, Sharon Watson's Facebook kick-off party included giveaways and special offers that don't end until the end of the month. You can also follow her on Pinterest


  1. Hi, Jennifer. Woo-hoo! You have a senior! Congratulations on having made it this far and for pressing on. What a gift your schooling is to your children!

    Thank you for your review of Illuminating Literature, and I hope you have a fun time teaching certain books from it for your homeschool group.

    Have a super year!

    1. A Tale of Two Cities and Fahrenheit 451 are in both this study and the group's plan; that worked out great. Thank you so much for this opportunity and for sharing your own love of literature with us.


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