Movies as Literature Curriculum Review

Movies as Literature Curriculum ReviewMovies as Literature is a different approach to literature reading and analysis.  The curriculum is designed to be used as a one year high school English course or it can be used to supplement studies from middle school through high school.  We chose the latter.  We have been using parts of this book for the past two school years and it has been a hit with my boys.

I only used the main book because I didn’t want to schoolify things by adding in the workbook.  I also didn’t use the composition assignments at the end of each section because we were using something else for composition.  Using the main book as a discussion guide worked out beautifully.

Each of these movies are covered in the book: (click on the link to watch the movie trailers on Amazon video) Shane, Friendly Persuasion, The Quiet Man, Arsenic and Old Lace, The Music Man, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, The Maltese Falcon, Rear Window, Emma, The Philadelphia Story, The Journey of August King, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Raisin in the Sun, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Henry V, A Man for All Seasons, and Chariots of Fire.

In the past two years we have done over half of the movies.  Some of the movies were available to watch online and others we found at our local library.  The book has been an excellent discussion tool to explore literary elements, the plot, and cinematography.  I wouldn’t say that this curriculum is Christian or secular.  It is written by someone who is a Christian and elements of Christianity can be found in some questions.  If you want a secular resource, I would think that this book wouldn’t be hard to “edit” to fit that viewpoint.

This is how we used the book:

  1. I introduced a new movie by going over the basics of the movie like the genre, the date it was produced, and any interesting details like the prizes the movie won.  All of this information is readily available in the Movies as Literature book.  Here is a sample of the introductory page of a movie.Movies as Literature Introductory Page
  2. We watched the movie through in one setting without discussing or stopping it.
  3. On another day we watched the first half of the movie.  During this time I had my finger on the remote to start and stop at different points in the movie to discuss.  I had the Movies as Literature discussion guide open to guide our discussion.  All of the answers to the discussion questions are found in the back part of the book too.  Sometimes I would just have that part open.Movies as Literature Discussion Questions
  4. On another day we did the final half of the movie stopping to discuss things as the movie progressed.  Half of a movie with discussion built-in typically took about 2 hours.

What did I love about this curriculum?

  1.  It was fun and easy to use.
  2. My kids loved it.  Who doesn’t love kicking back to watch a movie sometimes anyway?
  3. It wasn’t schooly.  If you add in the workbook and assignments it could become that way, but discussion worked quite well for us.
  4. Seeing the connections my kids made as they learned to watch movies differently.
  5. Seeing how my kids changed from not liking a movie (on first watching) to enjoying a movie as the complexities of the movie were discussed.
  6. Literary terms were learned in a more natural discussion format.

What did I not like about this curriculum?

Hmm….still thinking….I guess I wish there were more movies covered and I wish there was another book for earlier grades.  I started using this with my two boys when they were in 5th and 7th grade.  It worked well for them at that age.  My 2nd grader would sometimes join us to watch and discuss different movies too, but most of them were on the boring side for her.

No one is paying me to say this either.  I purchased this book nearly 2 years ago and it has been one of our all-time favorite curriculum choices.  I highly recommend it!

Now, if you are looking at using it for high school or if you are more comfortable with it being schooly, that option is available too.  Essays to go along with each movie can be completed and a final exam is included in the book.  Plus there is a workbook available.  I haven’t seen what that is like though.  Here are samples of pages that show the composition questions and extended activities.

Movies as Literature Composition QuestionsMovies as Literature Activities for Further Study


I think Movies as Literature is an excellent resource for relaxed learning.  It has been well-loved here!



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