Choosing a Literature Rich Homeschool Curriculum

Are you interested in finding a literature rich homeschool curriculum? Sarita Holzmann is the founder and president of Sonlight Curriculum.

In part 1 of our interview, she discusses the advantages of teaching with great literature. Read the following for tips on choosing a literature-based curriculum.

  1. What type of books are included in a good literature-rich homeschool curriculum?

    There are hundreds of thousands of children's books in print today. But very few of those are worthy of being included in a good literature-based curriculum. I read 20 or more books every week, and 98% will never make it into any curriculum Sonlight produces.

    One of the main criteria I use in choosing books is their ability to make a lasting emotional impact on me: I choose books that are poignant, heartwarming, powerful, deep, or thought-provoking. Of these books, I look for those that encourage children to thoughtfully interact with the world God created.

    For example, if children are studying India in a core program, and I find a book that does a beautiful job of putting a child in the shoes of a young girl growing up in a village in Northern India, I might include that book in the program to give children a sense of what life is like for people who live very differently than they do.

    Sonlight's core curriculum features historical novels (a.k.a. historical fiction), biographies, poetry, missionary stories, interactive (narrative-based) overviews of history, and many books that are simply just great literature!

  2. What should parents look for when choosing a literature-rich homeschool curriculum?

    Find a company that embraces an educational philosophy that resonates with you. For example, Sonlight is committed to providing excellent education that empowers children to thoughtfully engage with the world around them. Families will read books and interact with ideas from outside their particular religious and cultural background. If you want your family to only read books written by Evangelical Christians and focus almost exclusively on American literature, history and culture, for example, you should find another company that uses only such books.

    Also, find a company that helps you put everything together into a complete curriculum. With teaching guides, you'll give your children a complete education without the stress and exhaustion of preparing all your own lessons.

  3. Why did you start Sonlight curriculum company?

    In 1989, when my husband John and I decided to give homeschooling a try, we realized that there simply weren't the materials available to allow parents to use real literature to homeschool without doing everything from scratch! My back-fence neighbor Becky and I began dreaming about helping parents (especially missionaries living overseas) easily get everything they needed to give their kids a great education (without becoming slaves to lesson-planning) and form close family bonds in the process. So John and I started Sonlight in 1990 out of a rented garage.

  4. What type of products does Sonlight offer?

    Sonlight offers everything you need to give your children a full, rich education. Eighteen award-winning Core Programs are at the heart of the curriculum: full packages that include a year's worth of History, Geography, Literature and Bible. These programs use the subject of History as the "spine" to which other subjects connect. You can use one Core and one Science program with children of multiple ages. Then, match each child with the Sonlight Language Arts program that coordinates with his or her readers and the recommended Math and elective programs that best fit ability levels and interests.

    The easiest way to ensure your child has everything he or she needs is to choose a Sonlight Newcomer Package. One simple order sends a full year's worth of supplies to your house.

    All Core, Newcomer, Language Arts and Science programs include Instructor's Guides, which strategically interweave your collection of materials into a complete curriculum. The Guides give you a daily schedule, lesson plans and discussion questions, so you can homeschool with confidence without spending hours preparing your lessons.

  5. What is unique about Sonlight homeschool curriculum?

    Sonlight connects you with the best of the best books. Then we turn those books into a full, rich curriculum through our Instructor's Guides. I literally get hundreds of emails and comments from customers each year saying how thankful they are for these Instructor's Guides. With each day planned for you, you have the freedom to relax, enjoy spending time with your kids, and just wake up and teach every day. When you're not stressed out from planning, you can invest more in yourself and your family. Of course, the Instructor's Guides are as flexible as you want them to be. Use them as a jumping off point for whatever adventures you'd like to explore!

    Sonlight also has the best money-back guarantee in the business. I remember how challenging it was to figure out what curriculum to use. I never wanted to risk spending money on something that wouldn't work for us! Hence, the creation of Sonlight's unrivaled guarantee that enables you to find what works for your family without worry: you have a whole year to fully experience the first 18 weeks (half a school year's worth!) of any complete curriculum package you buy. Dog-ear the book pages, write all over the activity sheets, and use the program like it was meant to be used. If you and your kids don't love it-for any reason-simply return it for a refund of your full purchase price.

    Another thing that sets Sonlight apart is our willingness to engage in difficult issues. I know that once children are out of the home (e.g. in college or the workforce), they will encounter ideas and philosophies that are completely contrary to yours. If this is the first time they engage these ideas, the process can be terrifying, and often leads to rebellion. Through introducing difficult concepts while children learn alongside their parents, Sonlight allows parents to have a huge influence in their children's development. Students learn to think critically and evaluate the value of concepts in light of their worldview.

    This recent comment from a Sonlight parent reflects what I've heard time and time again: "if a parent has used Sonlight's upper cores to mentor their high school student they can send their child off to any college or occupation with confidence that they will be able to clearly think through the issues presented to them and defend their spiritual, moral and political beliefs." May God multiply the number of students like this!

    Finally, the most common thing I hear from Sonlighters is that Sonlight has helped their family love learning together. They love exploring global history and cultures (instead of focusing almost exclusively on the United States), and they thank Sonlight for creating a curriculum that cultivates such precious family bonds while equipping their children to joyfully and intelligently engage with the world around them.

  6. What advice do you have for new homeschoolers?

    You really can teach your children well! You know your children and their specific needs better than anyone and you care about them more than anyone else, so who else could be better suited to teach them? You don't have to have all the answers up front. Choose a curriculum that fits your family, start reading to your children and enjoy learning alongside them. May God grant you and your family grace, wisdom and many blessings in this exciting journey!

For more information about Sonlight homeschool curriculum, visit

Follow this link to read Sonlight curriculum reviews that were written by other homeschoolers.

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