It is intended for grades 7-10 and I found this to be a fair assessment. Certainly, older and younger students could also enjoy it. It is written toward the student, but parents could use the guide to facilitate narrations and discussions instead. Done this way, and with an audio book or reading aloud, the entire family could benefit.
The guide covers around 3 chapters at a time, rather than chapter-by-chapter. This allowed my 8th grader to get into the book a bit more without approaching it with a clinical eye. However, Joel loved the story so much, that he kept forgetting to stop at the end of his assigned chapter. He didn't want to put the book down. The guide suggests reading the entire book before beginning the study and then working through it again with the guide. Now I understand why.
The guide is divided into 6 sections to cover the 34 chapters of the book. It takes around 8-12 weeks to complete the entire guide. Each section includes:
- Comprehension Questions
- Thinking Questions
- Digging Deeper
The Vocabulary portion covers vocabulary words from each chapter. There around a dozen vocabulary words for each section. The activities vary from lesson to lesson, but include fill-in-the-blank, matching, multiple choice, etc.
The Comprehension and Thinking section contains questions to help students and parents realize how much the students gathered from the book. It also prompts them to think a bit more about what they read, examining motives of characters and possible outcomes. There are about a half-dozen Comprehension questions. These are standard questions, such as, "Why does Tom refuse to join Silver?" and "Why does Jim sneak away?" The Thinking questions take it a bit deeper. There are about a half dozen of these per section. These require students to consider what they've read and draw conclusions. These questions include, "What is ironic about Hands' outlook on "good," considering his past and present circumstances? Explain how this is also dramatic irony." Another question is "In your opinion, was Israel Hands' death a form of poetic justice? Why or why not?" A beautiful aspect that I truly appreciate is that irony and poetic justice are explained to students before these questions are asked. It is not just a book of questions and quizzes.
The Digging Deeper section views selections from the book through the lens of scripture and helps students glean some practical application lessons. For example: "Jim's first view of the island is one of dread and discouragement, and the fear becomes stronger when he sees Silver murder a man. Read Deuteronomy 31:6; Lamentations 3:21-24; and Romans 8:35-39. In what way do these verses teach us to handle fear and discouragement?" There are 1-3 Digging Deep questions per section.
The guide begins with 8 pre-reading activities, which contain interesting things to research before reading the book. Some are quite helpful, such as researching the value of coins used during the time of the story. Some were less helpful, such as choosing a design of ship to draw. This did require investigating the ships on the list, which was helpful to the story, but drawing isn't something everyone wants to make time for outside of art class. We opted to look up the ships online and skip the drawing.
The guide ends with an Overview section. It teaches students about themes and dramatic structure and asks 8 excellent questions. This section also provides several options for essay assignments. There are also suggestions for other resources students might find interesting.
Overall, I love the guide. I can't think of anything I would change. I plan to continue using one guide per year to help strengthen my student's ability to really appreciate what he is reading. If desired, students can complete 4 of the guides to earn a full high school credit.
There are 107 guides available for all ages and readers. The downloadable ebooks also comes with an answer guide for parents. The prices vary, but our Treasure Island Guide sells for $16.99 for an instant download or CD, which can be used again and again for multiple students. It costs $18.99 for a printed copy.