Wednesday, March 10, 2021

What a Helpful 2-in-1 Resource for Essay Writing, Style and Usage! {An Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers Review}

DisclosureI received this product free through the Homeschool Review Crew.

Do you have a middle school or high school student who could benefit from a writing reference resource which is comprehensive yet offers clear, concise explanations and examples?

The Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education could be just what you are looking for.

We have recently had the opportunity to review this 400+-page reference guide, which addresses essay writing, including style, grammar, usage, and punctuation, and is effectively two books in one.

The first "book" introduces and details essays and arguments. It devotes over 200 pages to illuminating for students how to structure an effective essay, emphasizing that a thesis must be "arguable" - not simply a point of fact or an opinion most already agree with.

Part One then takes students through the "anatomy" of an essay step by step, explaining how to write paragraphs that define terms, give background information, provide details examples, etc.
 discussion of essays arguments and more.

Through clear examples and exercise, Part One can truly help students craft effective and passionate arguments in clear and engaging writing. 

The second "book" of the Handbook is a style and usage guide. It includes more than 200 pages that offer tips and guidelines for grammar and word usage, covering spelling, punctuation, parallel structure, formatting, APA and MLA guidelines, and so much more - all listed in an extensive table of contents explained clearly with effective example, and numbered by paragraph for easy reference.

Together, the two-books-in-one work as a thorough teaching and reference tool which is designed to be used with high school through college students, yet is written and organized in such a way that it can he helpful for eager middle school students, parents, tutors, and teachers, too, I believe.

Middle school and high school students can take a break from other ELA studies to use the Handbook to fill in gaps in knowledge and to learn how to write strong essays. They can also use the reference in tandem with other resources, checking style, grammar, and usage points in the Handbook as they move through other curricula. 

College students can access the reference to tighten and improve their writing. They can also take comfort in knowing that by looking up key points in this vetted Handbook rather than, say, some random article they find on Google, they are getting sound examples and explanations.

Parents, teachers, and tutors can use the rubric in the Handbook to grade and give feedback to students. They can also direct students to specific numbered sections of the Handbook to review specific points. Plus, they can use the material in the Handbook to improve their own writing.

Most definitely,  I see the Handbook as a guide that can help students (and grown-ups) now, and also for years to come.

How Have We Been Using the Handbook?

I have been browsing the Handbook to become familiar with al of its parts so I can use portions of it to direct all three of my children to as I edit and evaluate their writing.

I have also been using the book as my high school age son's current ELA studies. Having had him fail to fully utilize other writing resources he has begun, I have opted to use this one together with him during 1:1's.

Basically, we read portions of it together, do the exercises in them aloud, and discuss examples. I also use the Handbook as a reference when I see mistakes and areas of improvement in my son's creative writing.

My Son's Thoughts

When I asked my son for a few words for this review he said:

When you first told me we would begin work with this Handbook, I thought, "Whatever." I have begun a multitude of writing programs - especially about essays - but never finished one, because they tend to bore me. I prefer creative writing, particularly writing fantasy tales. 

Since then, we have taken time to sit together, read this, and do the exercises out loud, and I think the Handbook is well written, besides its overuse of the words "very", "really", and other such weak words.


I would recommend this Handbook to others.

My son also made me smile at the end of our 1:1 the other day, when, after balking at having to come do the 1:1, he said, "Mom, this Handbook is good. It makes sense." 

I am glad it is working for him!

My Thoughts

My son, who loves to write fantasy fiction and does so well, still has much room to grow in writing nonfiction pieces. He also has always had trouble formulating clear, interesting theses and following them with on-point and effective arguments.

As we've been moving through 
Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers, I am seeing his understanding of how to craft persuasive writing grow.

I appreciate that the Handbook is part teaching tool and part ready reference. It does well encompassing many aspects of style, grammar, and usage and I like that it:
  • teaches how to construct logical, engaging arguments for essays, debates, and research papers
  • dives into different ways to organize essays and literary critiques, from research papers to narratives, outlining essential components for each.
  • offers images, outlines, examples, and more to drive home ideas.

  • offers a thorough treatment of paragraph structure, teaching about transitional words interpreting evidence, paragraph coherence, and more.
  • discusses how to read and write thoughtfully about literature including Shakespeare, classics, short stories, poetry, etc.
  • presents how to use inductive and deductive reasoning.
  • gives topic sentence outline examples for papers across curricula.
  • is organized with numbered paragraphs in the grammar and usage portion
  • provides multiple examples and exercises
  • goes over basics such as phrases, clauses, and dependent clauses, confusing words, etc.
There truly is much "meat" in this 2-for-1 Handbook.

The only things I have not liked so far are the overuse of unnecessary words such as "really", the lack of an index, and the fact that I don't have a physical copy of the book.

To this last point, we  received a PDF edition of 
Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers and, although it is handy to have it available on my computer so that no one can misplace it around the house, I find myself missing the ability to pick up a print copy to flip through. Thus, I would recommend that if you - like me - prefer to have your reference resources in a physical format, it might be worthwhile to get the print version of this resource.

 Handbook for Writers Excellence in Literature is available in both print and ebook.

You'll find a complete list of contents and more information on the Handbook page at the 
Everyday Education website and, I believe, will find this Handbook an excellent resource for writing!

Learn More

More than 25 Homeschool Review Crew families have been using the Handbook for Writers Excellence in Literature. Click on through to find links to video, social media and blog reviews.

You can also connect with via social media:

Facebook  | Facebook 2  | Twitter  |  Instagram  |   Pinterest


Related Posts with Thumbnails