Best Purchases Educator Resources

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?


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



what do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • Willow’s current favorite game is The Gingerbread Man game. She runs, runs, runs fast as she can. I can’t catch her. Willow wins Gingerbread Man.
  • She’s still stinkin’ cute. I still don’t like dog kisses in the face. 🤷🏻‍♀️ #catperson
  • Frankenweenie family movie night! Everyone I love in the same room together for two hours - a feat with teenagers and a traveling husband! I made dorky movie food. They thought it was cute. That’s a perfect Friday night in my book.
  • Many thanks to my dog-mom friends who have talked me through the WTF did I do, we were crazy to think we could handle a dog moments. Willow is SO FREAKING ADORABLE. She’s already sleeping through the night and has learned “leave it.” But OMG, a puppy, you guys. Going to co-op is now an ordeal, constantly watching for potty break signs, the biting. Sigh.
  • Our guiding question as we work through Frankenstein. Am I the only one who can get analysis overwhelm from some teacher guides? A 100 page teacher guide to Frankenstein? Holy cow! It’s too much. Are we trying to cover ALL THE THINGS in one book? Sure, there are dozens of interesting aspects we could analyze with any book. But I need a limit.
Trying to cover allusion and feminism and patriarchy and the nature of humanity and rights of the living and cloning and the tenets of romanticism and gothic literature and the educational theories of Locke and Rousseau (seriously not making that up) through one book...good grief, it’s exhausting.
What’s a provocative or interesting idea in this story? We still find that question enough of a jumping off point.
  • Breakfast read aloud for our October spooky theme. And when I say breakfast read aloud, I mean it’s October 9th and it’s the first day I’ve gotten my teens to the breakfast table at the same time AND I remembered to get the book out. 🤷🏻‍♀️ It still counts. #secularhomeschool #bravewriterteens #homeschoolhighschool #bravewriterlifestyle
  • Mystery Line Monday! We’re starting our spooky literature month, so the lines in October will come from various spooky works. I may do more than one line a week this month since I have several spooky lines. We’ll see how much crazy baby puppy brings to our life.😜
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.
  • Hi! My name is Willow. I like toy crabs, pine straw and mad dashes in the yard to avoid nap time.

Follow Me!