English Curriculum

Education reformers always talk about math and science. And while these subjects are important, I would argue that English is even more important. Most Americans will not use advanced math and science outside of school, but they will use English for the rest of their lives. Strong reading and writing skills will benefit them in a variety of ways (including jobs), and a knowledge of classic literature gives them a better grounding in history, religion, and politics. 

English is a broad category of study. For young students, it usually encompasses reading and English grammar. As students get older, English courses usually focus on literature.

English for Homeschool

Homeschool parents will want to take advantage of the growing resources for video education available today. Ron Paul Homeschool offers a full K–12 curriculum, including substantial English courses. For young children, they offer three reading courses (kindergarten through 3rd grade). You can sample their first 40 reading lessons for free

For 4th through 8th grade, the Ron Paul curriculum offers English courses that teach grammar, writing, and literature. The 9th grade English course focuses on writing. (There is also a public speaking course offered for 9th grade.) The 10th through 12th grade courses teach English literature and correspond to the Western civilization courses. This means 10th grade English covers Western literature to 1492, while 11th grade English covers Western literature since 1493. The 12th grade English course covers American literature.

Each course consists of five videos per week (for a total of 36 weeks), with weekly assignments and available discussion forums. A subscription is $250 for the entire family per year, plus $50 for each course taken. Here is a list of all the courses offered by Ron Paul Homeschool.

Omnibus for Homeschool & Private School

The Ron Paul curriculum uses shorter reading pieces for its high school literature courses. This makes sense, as no student has enough time to read all the book-length classics. However, students should at least survey the classics and then attempt to read some of them. A great resource here is the six-part Omnibus series by Douglas Wilson and Tyler Fischer.

The Omnibus books cycle through all of history twice (ancient, medieval, modern), with books I to III intended for 7th–9th grade and books IV to VI for 10th–12th grade. In other words, book I and book IV both cover ancient history, but book IV is at a higher level.

This is an excellent series that covers literature, history, and theology. Hence the title omnibus, which means “all encompassing” in Latin. Each Omnibus book has essays by different authors on important primary texts from history (such as Herodotus’ Histories). There are also essays on "secondary" books, most of which are great modern books (such as Lord of the Rings). 

This series makes for excellent literature textbooks, but it is also a great aid to the study of history. I recommend using it as a companion to history lessons so that students get exposed to actual texts written hundreds and thousands of years ago. For example, if a 9th grader is studying ancient history from Spielvogel’s Western Civilization, that student can use the corresponding Omnibus book (in this case, either I or IV) as a literature book.

The great thing about Omnibus is that it can be used as a resource book—meaning students do not have to read straight through the book. The chapters are separate essays by a variety of authors, so a teacher can select which chapters and books to study. This allows the teacher to focus on certain books for literature class. To get the most in-depth study, the teacher can have students read the survey chapter from Omnibus and then read the selected primary source after.

The Omnibus books are pricey ($75 to $100 each), but they are well worth it. The books themselves contain colorful pages printed on high-quality paper. But more importantly, the content is rich with insight and guidance into the ancient world. Ideally, these books should be purchased and passed down to future classes (or younger children in the case of homeschooling). 

Here is a list of some of the great books covered in the Omnibus series. You may just wish to purchase some of these books to study individually. While all those listed here are worth studying, I will provide links to those I most strongly recommend.

Omnibus I (Ancient Literature)

  • The Bible (Genesis, Exodus, 1–2 Samuel, 1–2 Kings, etc.)
  • The Epic of Gilgamesh
  • The Code of Hammurabi
  • The Odyssey (Homer)
  • The Histories (Herodotus)
  • The Oresteia (Aeschylus)
  • Plutarch’s Lives
  • Theban Trilogy (Sophocles)
  • The Last Days of Socrates (Plato)
  • The Early History of Rome (Livy)
  • The Aeneid (Virgil)
  • The Twelve Caesars (Suetonius)

Omnibus II (Medieval Literature)

Omnibus III (Modern Literature)

  • The Westminster Confession
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan)
  • Of Plymouth Plantation (Bradford)
  • The Social Contract (Rousseau)
  • Foundational American documents
  • Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers
  • A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
  • Reflections on the Revolution in France (Burke)
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Beecher Stowe)
  • The Communist Manifesto (Marx & Engels)
  • The Treaty of Versailles
  • The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)
  • 1984 (Orwell)

Omnibus IV (Ancient Literature)

  • The Iliad (Homer)
  • The Peloponnesian War (Thucydides)
  • The Republic (Plato)
  • Metamorphoses (Ovid)
  • The Jewish War (Josephus)
  • Meditations (Aurelius)

Omnibus V (Medieval Literature)

Omnibus VI (Modern Literature)

  • Paradise Lost (Milton)
  • Robinson Crusoe (Defoe)
  • Leviathan (Hobbes)
  • Pensees (Pascal)
  • The Wealth of Nations (Smith)
  • Moby Dick (Melville)
  • Democracy in America (De Tocqueville)
  • Huckleberry Finn (Twain)
  • Brave New World (Huxley)