Study Guides - American Childhood Study Guides

Study guides are books written to help children in school improve their abilities in a certain school subject. You can buy study guides in math, English, science, etc. Some of the most popular study guides are for English literature courses in middle and high school. Many students at this stage use a study guide to help them prepare for tests or exams. Study guides can be useful resources for parents who want to support their children's learning at home, or for parents who are homeschooling their children. They can be used to help a child writing or develop better reading skills. Let's look at some of the books found on the English literature syllabus in schools throughout the United States, and the study guides available for them.

An American Childhood Study Guide

An American Childhood is the autobiographical memoir of Annie Dillard, describing her experiences growing up in Pittsburg. It is usually taught to students in grades 7 to 12. Study guides available for this book range from online summaries (sometimes written by students, for students) to professionally produced "Spark Notes" books.

The Spark Notes concept consists of an extended (sometimes chapter by chapter) summary of the book concerned, with questions in each section and essay titles that are useful to students practicing for exams. The problem with Spark Notes is that students who haven't fully prepared for their exams may rely on them as a substitute for reading the book. This defeats the purpose of study, and is likely to give a student only a very shallow understanding of a text. Parents who buy Spark Notes books for their children should keep an eye on how the books are being used. Spark Notes also has a website where students can find study resources for An American Childhood and other English literature texts. Students can follow developments at Spark Notes via their social networking sites like facebook and twitter.

Study guides for teachers are also available online for this text, but usually only in return for payment. They generally contain ideas for lesson plans, essay questions, classroom exercises and a week-by-week breakdown of the teaching stages for this text.

A Child Called It Study Guide

A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive is an autobiographical account of the childhood of Dave Pelzer, who survived horrific abuse at the hands of his mother, who was an alcoholic. It may seem a little grim as a book to use in a middle school or high school class (it's usually taught at grades 7 to 12), but many English teachers use the text not only to improve their students' literacy skills, but also to encourage them to think about social problems like addiction and domestic violence. The book ends positively with Dave the child being rescued from his predicament by a concerned school teacher, growing into adulthood and surviving to tell the tale.

Summaries, chapter-by-chapter breakdowns of the book, practice questions, lesson plans and teaching guides are all available online. There are even sites dedicated solely to helping students studying this particular book.

Children Of The River Study Guide

Children of the River is a work of contemporary fiction by Linda Crew. The main character is a Cambodian girl who has fled violence and war in her own country, and is now struggling to adapt to life the United States. The conflict between socially acceptable behavior in the US, and the values and norms within her family, is a particular source of confusion for her. Many teachers use the text to encourage students to think about the problems that immigrants and refugees of war face as they try to rebuild their lives in United States. Study guides and summaries for Children of the River can easily be found on the internet. The author's own website explains a lot about her motivation and inspiration for writing the book.

Midnight's Children Study Guide

Midnight's Children is a novel set in India, written by Salman Rushdie. It is a surreal story, in which the narrator, called Saleem, (now an adult) tells not only the story of his own life growing up, but also the story his parents and grandparents. Saleem's is no ordinary life - in the midst of historical upheaval and religious conflicts between India and Pakistan, Saleem realizes that he has supernatural powers. The Spark Notes website provides a comprehensive guide for this novel. Lesson plans for teachers are also available.

Guides For Parents

Study guides and reference books are not aimed solely at children. Parents too can benefit from guides on child psychology and education. Online and in bookstores you'll find numerous guides support parents in extraordinary situations, for example, parents who need to help child cancer patients, or help a bereaved child grieve.

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