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My Best Purchases for Homeschooling High School: Breakfast on Mars

How many essays do you have your teenagers read before you ask them to write essays? 

Wait, we’re supposed to do that?

Um, it helps.

But then why don’t homeschool writing curriculums work that into the lesson plan?!

Exactly. Most don’t. Which sucks, because we don’t often think of it, and even if we do, where do we find them? 

What Was Missing from Our Homeschool Plan

Quality essay examples, obviously.

To be frank it’s a pain to search and search and search on Google, trying to find the right essay example to fit the writing assignment we’re about to tackle. It eats up my time, which as a homeschooler, I’m not exactly basking in excess time, right?

And woe to you if you have a reluctant high school writer and you hand them some run-of-the-mill SAT essay example because that’s all you can find.

Like THAT’S going to make them to want to write. 

I needed essays that appealed to my teenagers, that got them at least somewhat interested in the idea of writing one.

Fix My Teaching Problem, Please

Hello, Breakfast on Mars. I’m so glad we found each other!

Definitely one of my best purchases!

For too long, we have held essays captive in the world’s most boring zoo.

Breakfast on Mars, page 3

Amen to the boring zoo. This book is no typical essay collection. No solemn essays that were written for adults, not kids.

The essays by authors like E.B. White and John McPhee are far more complex than those that children can write, and children’s bookshelves don’t contain anthologies of essays written specifically for youngsters.

Lucy Calkins, Breathing Life into Essays, as cited in Breakfast on Mars.

Look, I think writers like E. B. White and Virginia Woolf have a place at the homeschool table. But I’m also cautious of elevating those type essays as models early on, especially when working with struggling or reluctant writers.

I agree with Calkins that kids can’t write at that level, even teens yet, so let’s give them more reachable examples before throwing them in the deep end with White and Woolf. In my own experience, my struggling and reluctant writers needed more scaffolding. It’s okay to save White, Woolf and Company for upper high school once your teen has some essay writing skills under their belt.

Breakfast on Mars has an essay that will convince you Big Foot’s existence is possible. Okay, maybe only 3% convinced because we don’t want to be crazy conspiracy theorist here. But hey, I bet that’s more than when you started reading the essay! That’s a persuasive essay that did its job.

You’ll hear Donkey Kong’s perspective, claiming Mario is the real villain, not him. Showing your teen to consider alternative perspectives through video gaming. What teen boy wouldn’t like that?

Personal essays, persuasive ones, literary, informative. They’re all in this book.

These are essay topics that appeal to teenagers, showing them it doesn’t have to be dry and boring. You can be intellectual yet still have fun with an essay.

Best yet, the publishers have a free downloadable teacher’s guide to help you explore the essays.

Why It Worked for Us

Reading these essays expanded my son’s imagination of what essay writing can look like. Given that he was my reluctant writer, it was important that he began to envision something more light-hearted and fun instead of only heavy and academic. I credit this book as another piece to his recovery as a reluctant writer. 

The funny thing is that once we finally made our way to writing an expository essay, my son had matured enough that he wanted to write a more academic-toned essay, not a funny one. That’s okay! Kids grow and change, as they should.

Breakfast on Mars still helped open his mind to the possibilities within essay writing. And we had a ton of fun while reading its essays together. #bondingmoment

Where to Buy It

Well, Amazon, of course. Or your local bookstore. Or maybe you have a magic book fairy who takes requests and then leaves books under your pillow while you sleep. In that case, can you hook me up with one of those?

Heather

More of my best purchases series…
They Say/I Say: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing
Annotating Literary Elements

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I’m not highlighting any literary elements in this one. It’s the idea I find intriguing. Something I want my teens to think about as they go out in the wider world and encounter different leadership. Also, we’re starting this book this week.
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