Progeny Press eGuide ~ Review

Over the years AJ and I have tried out quite a few different book studies. Some I have found free online, others I have paid for, and a majority of them I have just made myself. The problem with making them myself is that it is time consuming. I have to read through the books, find literary elements, and figure out activities. My own book studies are always fun, but now that she is in high school I find it hard to keep up. Often the free book studies I find just have questions about the plot, and I want more. I had heard about Progeny Press before, and read that their studies were very well done. So when we were given the chance to review their Perelandra – eGuide, I was interested give them a try.

Perelandra
Perelandra is the second book in a trilogy written by C. S. Lewis. The book can be read as a stand alone book, but like most series the reader will have a better understanding if the books are read in order. AJ and I both enjoyed the Narnia series, so I figured we would enjoy this series from C. S. Lewis as well. We went into the study not reading the first book. The study guide did provide a synopsis of what happened in the first book. But I would recommend reading the books in order. Progeny Press has a study for the first book, and I wish we would have done that study first.

Study Guide Basics

We received both the study guide and the answer key. The study guide is 58 pages long. It begins with a note to the instructor that explains how to use the guide. Then it has a synopsis of the book and the previous book along with background information about the author.

The study guide is interactive. You can click on the table of contents and you are taken to that section. You are also able to type your answers directly into the study guide. This is perfect for those who don’t enjoy writing. It also works wonders to save on ink. You don’t need to print the guide off. Simply let your student type their answers in and save it to your computer. Of course if you prefer to have a written copy you can print it once your student finishes it.

The Answer Key is six pages long. The writing is very small, but it has all of the questions answered. I found the answer key helpful especially with some of the dig deeper questions. Looking at it let me help AJ when she got stuck. It also was a great discussion starter when her answers varied from the key.

More Details About the Study Guide

The study guide is designed to be used over an eight to ten week period and can count as a quarter credit for high school. During the first week the student reads the book and completes some pre- reading activities. There are a lot of different options. Some include:

  • Researching the different accounts of creation from different religions and comparing them with the Biblical account.
  • Imagining they are in the Garden of Eden and writing a description of it.
  • Researching the origins of Mars and Venus and comparing the god’s character traits in Greek, Roman, and Norse Mythology.

Once the book is read, the student comes back and does the book work. The chapters are broken up, usually two at a time. Each section follows the same format.

Vocabulary

This is one of my favorite parts of the study guide. Each section has an activity to do with vocabulary. It isn’t just a simple write the definition of a word activity though. The activities make the student look at how the word was used and what it means. Sometimes the student will need to fill the word into the blank of a sentence, and then write a definition. Other times they may need to read a passage and write their own definition before looking up the dictionary definition.  They even have to look at the context of a passage to decide which definition of the word the author meant.

There are about two pages of vocabulary for each section. One of AJ’s biggest struggles is seeing how words can mean different things in different contexts. These activities have been difficult for her, but they have helped. One thing that we liked was that there were different activities, she didn’t have to do the same activity every time.

Questions

For each section there are about four questions about the reading. These are questions that can be answered about the plot of the story. As long as the student read the book they should be able to answer the questions. But they can go back and read through the chapters again if they need to.

Analysis

Each section has about three to six analysis questions. These questions require the student to think beyond the plot of the book. Sometimes they are asked to think about what a character is thinking, sometimes they are asked to look at a character’s actions and then told to read a Bible passage. They are also asked about different uses of literary devises in the story. These are the types of questions I often find missing from other book studies. They require the student to look beyond the basic story.

Dig Deeper

Each section has a few dig deeper questions. The amount varies due to what was going on in each section. These questions go further than the analysis questions. They require the student to look at symbolism in the book, and to look at statements made by the characters. One question asks the student to go into a dark room and wait for a while. Then they are asked if they felt the way a character felt.

There is a lot of Biblical symbolism and that is explored in this section. The student is instructed to read passages from Genesis, Revelations, Hebrews, and other books of the Bible to see the parallels between the accounts in the Bible and the story.

After the questions are answered for each section then there are additional activities for the student to complete. There are options that explore point of view, the author’s use of color, the similarities between the tempting of Eve and the tempting of a character in the novel, and other activities that explore the parallels between the Bible and the novel.

How We Used It

We tried to use the study guide as written. But it just didn’t work. AJ is a slow reader and finishing the book in a week wasn’t going to happen with this book. The language in the book was difficult and at times she was getting lost in the story. I think reading the book and then doing the work would have been perfect for her while we were reading the Narnia series. At that time she hated to stop after a few chapter and answer questions. But this book was harder for her. So after two weeks of her not wanting to read and her having a hard time with the book, we decided to make a change.

I had her do the vocabulary work for the chapters and then read them again. When she was done reading the section she answered the questions. She answered some of the analysis and dig deeper questions, but most of them we are saving until she is finished with the book. Normally we rush through a book. The idea of spending ten weeks on one book seemed like a lot. But I see now that she is really understanding beyond the book. It may take her longer to get through the reading, but when she is done she will have a great understanding of symbolism among other literary elements.

What We Thought

Progeny Press
This was the first guide that we have used from Progeny Press. And I am very impressed. The study guides are very well made. The questions make the student think, the vocabulary activities make the student understand word usage, and the work isn’t rushed. The guides are affordable, and I see us using a few more in our future.

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