The Harp and Laurel Wreath

The Harp and Laurel Wreath

Laura Berquist has already written one of the most helpful books on the Classical approach to learning, Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum (Ignatius Press). In that book, she recommends the use of poetry and prose for the different stages of learning (grammatical, dialectical, and rhetorical stages). Students use well-written models to memorize, copy, take through dictation, analyze, present orally, and as subjects for compositions.

Berquist makes numerous poetry and literature recommendations in Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum, but she has done a great service by compiling a superb collection of prose and poetry in a single volume, The Harp and Laurel Wreath. The large majority of the book consists of poetry and verse with less space given to speeches, documents, and literary excerpts.

In addition to being well-written, selections are often inspiring and character-building. I was very impressed with the selections—the poems really do represent some of the greatest works with which you would like your children to be familiar. Favorite, traditional children's poems and rhymes are also represented. A few titles from the works included are "The Children's Hour," "Psalm 100," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," "O Captain! My Captain!", "scenes from Hamlet, and "The Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln." Among the included authors are Longfellow, Stevenson, Stephen Vincent Benét, Carroll, Millay, Shelley, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Yeats.

Berquist also explains how to use the readings, dividing them up according to the different stages of learning. Study questions are included after each piece in the "rhetorical" section, with suggested answers provided at the back of the book.

Even if you are not implementing a classical curriculum, this volume is probably the best source for poetry and readings for use in any homeschool.

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Instant Key

  • Need For Parent or Teacher Instruction: moderate
  • Learning Environment: parent or teacher resource
  • Grade Level: grades 1-12
  • Educational Approaches: classical
  • Religious Perspective: Christian

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