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The Harp and Laurel Wreath

by Laura Berquist

Reviewed by Martha Robinson

Purchase details: The Harp and Laurel Wreath, Poetry and Dictation for the Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist, 1999, 493 pages, $21.95. Published by Ignatius Press. Please support by buying this program from our Christian Book Distributors link or Amazon affiliate link.

In The Harp and Laurel Wreath, Laura Berquist has compiled an anthology of poems, speeches, and prose to use for dictation and memorization in all three stages of the Trivium. All of the poems recommended in Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum are included as well as many more. Classic poets such as Robert Louis Stevenson and Elizabeth Barrett Browning bring this collection to life.

The book begins with a discussion of the importance of poetry in the education of children. The charm and richness of poetry expands the imagination and allows children to develop a taste for the beautiful. Poetry also helps the child to see the world through the poet's eyes, thus opening the child to new experiences.

An explanation of how to use the book is offered in the next section. Mrs. Berquist gives step-by-step instructions on how to help the child memorize poetry and offers suggestions for activities or discussion in each of the stages of the Trivium including how to create a poetry notebook for each child. She also explains precisely how to do studied and unstudied dictation.

The remainder of the book is divided into sections according to Mrs. Berquist's view of the Trivium: early years (pre-grammar stage), grammatical stage, dialectical stage, and rhetorical stage. The poems increase in difficulty and length with the stages. Dictation exercises are included in the early years, grammatical, and dialectical stage sections. In the rhetorical section, the poems are divided into three sections with an explanation of poetry terms useful in analysis of these poems before each section. There are study questions for each poem to increase understanding and there are answers in the back to help out the parent.

Recommendation: The poems and prose selected for The Harp and Laurel Wreath are beautiful and inspiring. While the poems are easily found in books in the public library, it could be challenging for the homeschooling parent to compile everything needed on a timely basis for use with multiple children. If you do not have the luxury of spending hours at the library or the knowledge of what to choose, The Harp and Laurel Wreath will truly make your life easier. resources related to this review:'s Language Arts Resources Section for poetry, reading, and more!'s Classical Homeschooling Section with resources, links, and ideas for implementing the Christian Trivium
Interview with Laura Berquist
Question and Answer Session with Laura Berquist
Review of Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum by Laura Berquist
Review of Mother of Divine Grace Syllabi by Laura Berquist
Review of Laura Berquist's Syllabus for Henle Latin

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