My daughter homeschools and is always looking for Christ-centered material to help her as she teaches. She recently let me know about an invaluable free resource through Hillsdale College. The opening of this particular college’s mission statement reads like this: “Hillsdale College is an independent institution of higher learning founded in 1844 by men and women ‘grateful to God for the inestimable blessings’ resulting from civil and religious liberty and ‘believing that the diffusion of learning is essential to the perpetuity of these blessings.'”
The resource provided is a Course in Classic Children’s Literature. You can sign up for free online at:
I was unable to provide a direct link, so copy and paste the link into your browser and you will see a heading for their free courses. There may be other courses on the site that you are interested in, so check out all of them.
After an Introduction video, followed by a short course on the teachings of “Moral Excellency”, you jump right in with a study of, Beauty and the Beast. The intent of all the teaching is to show a thread of Christ in the fairy tales and the introduction of good versus evil, with good always winning over evil, and concluding with a happy ending.
From my notes on the course I had written:
- A compelling version of goodness is attractive and stirs… it addresses the head and the heart.
- Imagination is a key to virtue. Imagination calls the shots more than reason.
- Children should be brought up to fall in love with virtue and hate vice, to want to imitate the heroes.
- William Kilpatrick says, “The danger facing children’s literature does not come from the ogres and villains that haunt the pages of fairy tales and adventure stories; the danger lies, rather, in the continued proliferation of normless books that cater to anxiety and self-absorption.”
So far I have gone through Beauty and the Beast, and The Snow Queen in the course. I was very impressed to see the thread of Christ and a Savior running through both stories, the praying of The Lord’s Prayer when danger strikes, and I always love a happy ending.
The course allows you to take notes on the computer as you go, and to review the notes as you take a quiz for each story or book. At the end of the course there is an exam on the whole course. You can use these tools as much or as little as you want. The whole point is using the course as a learning and enlightening tool, to rehash moral virtues for yourself, see Christ in literature, and share with children.
The stories you will be introduced to in the course are:
- Beauty and the Beast
- The Snow Queen
- Alice in Wonderland
- Treasure Island
- The Wind in the Willows
- Aesop’s Fables
- The Stories of Beatrix Potter
Be aware that the stories in the classic literature are far different than the animated versions we see today.
Although Hillsdale College offers a set of the books for the course at a reduced rate, you can find them cheaper on Amazon, especially if you order some of the larger books as used. I was able to keep my cost of books down that way, and I bought them instead of borrowing them because I wanted to add some classics to my library. Even as a child, I have read very few of them, so this is a new adventure for me.
I hope you will join in on the adventure. Let me know if you do:)