Senior High School Lightning Literature and Composition

At the high school level, students now can spend a semester or a year focused on a time and place, topic, or author. These guides provide lessons in literature that will help not just your student’s reading comprehension and love of books, but their own writing as well. Rather than a bland text compiled by a committee, these guides are written by parents, homeschoolers, and teachers with a passion for literature and writing. (The first eight guides listed below are non-religious. The last four have religious content.)

American Literature: Early - Mid 19th Century

Students will learn how to write an autobiography with that great statesman, Benjamin Franklin, then improve their brainstorming skills after reading Washington Irving. Several poems from William Cullen Bryant teach about rhyme. Frederick Douglass’s powerful narrative of his life illustrates persuasive writing. Edgar Allan Poe has much to teach us about tone and mood, and Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter provides many examples of conflict. Then students set sail after Moby-Dick with a shipful of eccentrics and learn about character development. Finally, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow instructs us on meter in poetry.

American Literature: Early to Mid 19th Century Pack
American Literature: Early to Mid 19th Century Student Guide
American Literature: Early to Mid 19th Century Teacher's Guide

American Literature: Mid - Late 19th Century

Learn how authors develop a theme in that great anti-slavery novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Explore Walt Whitman’s innovative poetry to see how he uses sound and imagery. We enjoy an early Western with Bret Harte to learn about the use of local color, and who better to teach us about humor than Mark Twain in his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Students will learn about register through Paul Laurence Dunbar’s delightful and moving poetry. Stephen Crane’s classic The Red Badge of Courage uses powerful description to place us on the battlefield and in a boy’s heart. Emily Dickinson teaches us about figurative language with her insightful poems, and finally travel to the frozen north with The Call of the Wild to learn about point of view.

American Literature: Mid to Late 19th Century Pack
American Literature: Mid to Late 19th Century Student Guide
American Literature: Mid to Late 19th Century Teacher's Guide


Students read a large selection of famous speeches to learn how to write their own. Explore great openings with Jonathan Edwards and General Colin Powell, then develop your content wisely with help from that great orator Daniel Webster, President George Washington, and Gandhi. Susan B. Anthony and Carl Sagan demonstrate the importance of factual argument, while Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther, and Elie Wiesel provide help in organization. A speech means an audience, and that is emphasized through speeches by Benjamin Franklin and William Faulkner, among others. Take your speech from good to great by powerful word choice and well constructed sentences just as Queen Elizabeth I, Sojourner Truth, and Chief Joseph did. Improve your rhetorical style with such masters as William Shakespeare, Theodore Roosevelt, and Chief Seattle. And always leave them wanting more by ending your speech with the same punch as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, or Abraham Lincoln.

Speech Pack
Speech Student Guide
Speech Teacher's Guide

British Literature: Early - Mid 19th Century

The brilliant artist and poet William Blake begins our journey with instruction in tone. Then sensible Jane Austen has many things to teach us about character in Pride and Prejudice. Students then leave the 19th century English drawing room for the medieval English court in Ivanhoe and see how Sir Walter Scott brings history to life with his descriptions. After reading Sir Walter Scott, students will read about him in an essay by Thomas Carlyle, and learn much about persuasive writing along the way. Then it’s back to those beautiful British poets, with that Dream Team of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Lord Byron to learn about imagery and poetic language. Pick a cozy setting to read Frankenstein and learn how an author uses setting in so many ways. Charlotte Bronte’s tear-jerker, Jane Eyre, shows us point of view, then dry those eyes with a good laugh as Thackeray delights us with a short story and end the year on a high note by learning about humor.

British Literature: Early to Mid 19th Century Pack
British Literature: Early to Mid 19th Century Student Guide
British Literature: Early to Mid 19th Century Teacher's Guide

British Literature: Mid - Late 19th Century

Students start by learning about two core literary concepts. First Alfred, Lord Tennyson teaches about rhythm in poetry, then George Eliot’s miniature gem, Silas Marner, illustrates plot. That master story-teller, Charles Dickens, gives a lesson in conflict, and the brilliant mathematician and wordsmith, Lewis Carroll, will delight students, while teaching a few lessons in rhyme along the way. Next students leave England and join Robert Louis Stevenson on his journeys out west to learn about local color. After their travels they return to the English drawing room to learn about theme from Oscar Wilde in The Importance of Being Earnest. But no one should stay cooped up too long, so next adventure forth with Sherlock Holmes to solve a mystery (and learn about genre). Finally, students enjoy a rollicking good tale with that English adventurer Rudyard Kipling based on his school days, and learn how to mine their own life and experiences for ideas.

British Literature: Mid to Late 19th Century Pack
British Literature: Mid to Late 19th Century Student Guide
British Literature: Mid to Late 19th Century Teacher's Guide

Shakespeare: Tragedies and Sonnets

“He was not of an age but for all time.” –Ben Jonson

An author truly worthy of a year’s study in high school (or at any time), William Shakespeare was dramatic, poetic, surprising, enlightening, hilarious, heart-breaking, and so much more. Your student will watch Julius Caesar fall on the Senate floor, then learn about the power of words to influence. Next, they will listen to Hamlet wrestle with himself about how to avenge his father’s murder, and learn about antithesis, oxymora, and puns. While Macbeth plots and schemes, Shakespeare teaches us about betrayal using symbolism and imagery. And when King Lear’s world falls apart, students learn about power and identity. Students will also learn more about language through eight of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and of course learn more about the life and times of the man himself.

Shakespeare: Tragedies and Sonnets Pack
Shakespeare: Tragedies and Sonnets Student Guide
Shakespeare: Tragedies and Sonnets Teacher's Guide

Shakespeare: Comedies and Sonnets

“I have good reason to be content, for thank God I can read and perhaps understand Shakespeare to his depths.” –John Keats

Start your student on the path to greater contentment, at least in their understanding of Shakespeare. Four delightful comedies reveal something of this genius’s wry, insightful view of life. First they will delight in the confusions of Twelfth Night and learn about antithesis, irony, and appearance versus reality. Then it’s out to the idyllic Forest of Arden in As You Like It for important lessons in imagery, figurative language, and reconciliation. The impish A Midsummer Night’s Dream lets students peek in on fairies while learning about perspective, symbolism, and societies. Finally, in the powerful The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare teaches us much about law versus mercy. Students will also learn more about language through eight of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and of course learn more about the life and times of the man himself.

Shakespeare: Comedies and Sonnets Pack
Shakespeare: Comedies and Sonnets Student Guide
Shakespeare: Comedies and Sonnets Teacher's Guide

British Medieval Literature

Journey back to a time of castles and kings, knights and dragons. Students will adventure with Beowulf and learn about foreshadowing. Anglo-Saxon riddles (much like those of Bilbo and Gollum) are filled with wonderful metaphors. Piers the Ploughman teaches allegory, then students learn about theater with a mystery play. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight teaches tone. And what would medieval England be without the ballad The Gest of Robyn Hode (where everybody’s favorite outlaw, Robin Hood, began)? Students turn from the legendary to the historical to learn about St. Thomas Becket and biography. And we round things up with one of the brightest jewels in the medieval literary crown - selections from The Canterbury Tales - where we find that Geoffrey Chaucer has much to teach about humor.

British: Medieval Pack
British: Medieval Student Guide
British: Medieval Teacher's Guide

British Christian Literature

Students begin with that fine Oxford don, C. S. Lewis, for a class in writing a five-paragraph essay. Next, George MacDonald teaches about identifying and writing with symbolism. Some lovely poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins teach about word-choice, imagery, and syntax in poetry. Students then return to nonfiction with Why Does God Allow War? to learn about writing clearly. Next, Amy Carmichael shows students the importance of writing for a reason and the always delightful G. K. Chesterton teaches writing to persuade. Students will learn about writing a literary analysis from the brilliant T. S. Elliot, then finally settle down with a good mystery by Dorothy Sayers and learn about writing what they know.

British Christian: 19th-20th Centuries Pack
British Christian: 19th-20th Centuries Student Guide
British Christian: 19th-20th Centuries Teacher's Guide

American Christian Literature

Beginning in the 17th century, students use Anne Bradstreet’s poems to learn how to give a close reading. They then journey to the 20th century, and Henri Nouwen to learn about writing a basic essay. Another essay by Walker Percy helps students learn reading to respond. The ever-beloved Madeleine L’Engle’s autobiographical essay, A Circle of Quiet, teaches students about writing a literary essay. Wendell Berry’s poems demonstrate the importance of telling the truth, while Godric, by Frederick Buechner, helps students develop a biblical response to sin in literature. Students will study a short story by Flannery O’Connor to better learn how to evaluate literature critically. Finally, with Elisabeth Elliot’s No Graven Image, students learn about finding a touchstone.

American Christian Authors Pack
American Christian Authors Student Guide
American Christian Authors Teacher's Guide

World Literature I: Africa and Asia

Students will begin their travels in Africa and learn about historical fiction and cultural characters from Chinua Achebe. Then poetry from Africa has much to teach about sound in poetry. Hop on a plane for the Land of the Rising Sun to learn about point of view and cultural values from Kazuo Ishiguro. In addition to this Japanese novel, students will study poetry from Japan to learn about themes. Students next travel to the Middle East to read Naguib Mahfouz and learn about symbolism and worldviews. Middle Eastern poetry teaches about imagery. Finally, students get to select an autobiography to learn more about writing their own autobiography. They wrap up their tour with more poetry that teaches about tone.

World Literature I: Africa and Asia Pack
World Literature I: Africa and Asia Student Guide
World Literature I: Africa and Asia Teacher's Guide

World Literature II: Latin America, Africa, Asia

If World Literature I made your child want to explore international literature and perspectives even more, World Literature II will help satisfy that desire. This time, they begin their journey in India with short stories by R. K. Narayan to learn about developing characters. Further short stories from India teach about style and irony. Next, students tackle a new country and new continent, reading Isabel Allende from Chile to learn about descriptive writing. Short stories of Latin America and Japan teach about setting. Fly back East to China, where the memoir A Thousand Pieces of Gold teaches writing about history. While they’re in China, students will read some short stories to learn about political fiction and satire. Next, students read an essay from Amin Maalouf (Lebanon) to learn about persuasive writing. And finally we end our journey where it began in World Literature I, with short stories from Africa to learn about conflict and plot.

World Literature II: Latin America, Africa, Asia Pack
World Literature II: Latin America, Africa, Asia Student Guide
World Literature II: Latin America, Africa, Asia Teacher's Guide

What our customers are saying

I used the Lightning Lit American Literature this year and absolutely love it. I have used all types of literature programs and this one is by far the best.

—Renita Herbst

[My daughter] in 11th grade has always been homeschooled and we have run the gamut of approaches to literature. . . Lightning Literature has been her (and my) absolute favorite. We hired the head of the English department of our local high school to look over her papers, and he loves the assignments she is doing in Lightning Literature so much that he is actually planning to use some in his own classes. [My daughter] likes it because the questions don't slow down the reading too much, the format is geared toward independent study, the instructions are clear, and the writing assignments are varied. She also likes studying complete works as opposed to using an anthology of excerpts. I also like that it covers literary terms.

—Luann Geyman

I looked long and hard at many different literature programs and Lightning Literature came out on top every time. I like that I had the option to choose to do the semester course over a year for our son's freshman English. He simply is not ready to tackle both semesters. No other program offered this option. There were many watered down courses that were "Basic English", however, we didn't want that for our son. We want to challenge him to think and to explore literature.

—Lisa Young

Initially Maria was wondering if she could "hack" a college course. . . . We said go for it. The foremost feedback has been how much she appreciates your courses (Lightning Literature) because she feels the assignments are much more concise, well directed and interesting. She also feels that your critiques have been very helpful and more than adequately prepared her for English 101. The school was very surprised she placement tested so well.

—Barbara Gomez


Office Hours
Monday through Thursday
8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. PST / PDT

Contact Us
FAX: 360-835-8697
Phone: 800-348-1750  /  360-835-8708

Office Location
3140 Evergreen Way
Washougal, WA 98671

Copyright 2012-2018 Hewitt Research Foundation, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Hewitt Research Foundation is a 501(c)(3) Not-for-profit Corporation
"PASS" is a registered trademark of Hewitt Research Foundation