Further Up And Further In: A Literature Based Unit Study Utilizing C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles Of Narnia, by Diane Pendergraft, edited by Margie Gray
If you are parent for homeschooled children in middle school or early high school, this is definitely a good book to check out. While the author’s fondness for lard and eels is not something I can endorse as someone who follows the biblical food laws, there is a great deal in this book that demonstrates a thoughtful use of C.S. Lewis’ writing to provide not only a solid literature learning experience but also to connect Lewis’ literature with other fields of study. This particular textbook operates a lot differently from the ones I grew up with in English, but it looks like something that could be an effective unit for children, especially those who want to get the most out of learning based on Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. The book is well-organized and contains a lot of content, and gives plenty of resources for those who want to find the (sometimes out of print) works that are discussed herein, all of which makes this book the sort that would be appreciated by a parent who wanted to use Lewis’ writings as part of an overall education effort that would probably count for a year’s worth of credit or so in English.
If one includes the appendix material, there are more than 350 large pages to this unit study. After an introduction the book is organized around the novels of the Chronicles of Narnia in the version of their chronology within the overall story, starting with the Magician’s Nephew, then moving on to The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, then A Horse And His Boy, then Prince Caspian, then The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, then The Silver Chair, and finally The Last Battle. Included in these units, which together take up more than 250 pages of material, there are fill-in-the blanks, crossword puzzles, rhetorical and cooking exercises, worksheets with animals found in the books, paragraph writing assignments and discussion materials, and Bible memory verses, among other assignments. After this comes the appendices, which include the many subjects covered in this book, along with an activity appendix and a list of activities to do (including a list of recipes from the book), along with recommend readings, various other resources that can be used by the parent/teacher, answers to all of the questions found in the book, and an order form by the publisher.
Admittedly, I am reviewing this book at a bit of a disadvantage, not having been either a homeschooled student or a parent who homeschools children. That said, this book was one that I enjoyed reading and could easily see the value of and I would think that this book would be greatly appreciated by a great many parents who would want to integrate Lewis’ Christian fantasies into a course that combined literature with science, cooking, rhetoric, history, biblical studies, geography, arts, music, and other skills (including archery and horseback riding). Even within literature this book does a good job at placing Lewis’ writing in a framework that includes other poetry, some of Shakespeare’s plays, and various mythic writing like Homer. To be sure, this is not the only area of study that someone would want to have in a given year, but it certainly presents Lewis’ writing and its connections with other areas of study that many young people will find of great interest and which may even include films like Shadowlands and the adaptations of three of the Narnia books. All things considered, this book is one that a great many parents will appreciate as a learning resource for their older preteens or teenagers.