Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Two Favorite Writing Resources

Parents often approach me about writing curriculum for their children and sadly, I am of little assistance in that area. I have even checked into various writing programs hoping to acquire one that I can fall back on in such situations, but alas, I am at a loss. I am not saying that there aren’t any valuable writing programs out there, but I am saying that as a professional writer, I can’t imagine teaching the process from a textbook or workbook! However, I do have two favorite writing resources that I like to share with parents and students, hoping they’ll forgive me for my lack of direction concerning writing curricula.

1. The Little, Brown Handbook by H. Ramsey Fowler and Jane E. Aaron

When I first started writing in college, I acquired The Little, Brown Handbook as a grammar and writing resource guide. Funny enough, I still have a copy of that very edition and the book was actually brown back then. Now, the book is in its 12th edition and still reigns as one of the best writing resources available.

What I like:  I am a bibliophile. Although I really enjoy my Kindle, I will never give up real books without a fight. With The Little, Brown Handbook, I am able to easily locate almost any writing, grammar or punctuation rule in moments. It contains a detailed index, which I appreciate. When I am using it on my Kindle, it’s even easier to search. The book is actually small so it travels easily and is very accessible in a pinch, especially when I’m writing without a computer (yes, I like to write on paper sometimes as do a number of my students from what they tell me). For students, The Little, Brown Handbook also contains practice exercises and plenty of examples.

What I don’t like:  The cost makes it challenging for some homeschool families to purchase, especially new. Even used copies can be expensive. I always recommend buying this book used and there’s no reason to worry about getting the most current edition. Any of the last few editions can meet the needs of a high school writer. Of course, as long as your family takes care of the book, the investment is well worth the value of the hidden gems.

2. Purdue University Writing Lab

With most students having ready access to the internet, the value of this writing resource cannot be measured! I remember when I first discovered this website. I looked for any weaknesses in the punctuation, grammar, writing skills etc. sections and I was left wanting. Could this really be an all-encompassing writing resource at my very fingertips? Apparently so!

What I like:  There are so many “likes” that I made a short list of my favorites. You’ll have to explore the writing lab to discover what you like.

                a. It’s free!  What homeschool  parent doesn’t  appreciate that price? With so many websites charging user fees these days, thank you to Purdue University for this gift.  

                b. It’s comprehensive.  There may be gaps, but I haven’t found them. I often refer to this site with my students who struggle with specific skills. It has never let me down. Recently, I even utilized a Commas Powerpoint Presentation to teach lessons in my Essay Styles classes.

                c. It’s accessible.  A smart phone, tablet or computer along with internet access makes this resource easily acquired. You don’t have to even sign up for a free account!

                d. It’s searchable.  The search engine works well for me and doesn’t require specialty key words in most cases.

                e. It’s understandable.  Even my more average high school student (if there are even “average” homeschoolers) generally comprehend the explanations, definitions and examples on the Purdue site. In most cases, I find the material to be very readable and broken down into sections that allow students to absorb a small amount of information at a time.

What I don’t like:   There’s not much that doesn’t appeal to me about the Purdue Writing Lab. If I had any complaint, it would be that some of the examples are a bit worldly or not relevant to my students. But hey, the site originated for college students.

I sure hope you find my favorite resources as useful as I do. As a writer, I have never memorized the rules. I recognize some of them and often, I can just look at written work and know whether it’s correct or not. But I do need to be able to tell my students why something is correct or not. 

Now you know my secrets! If you have a favorite writing resource or writing curriculum, be sure to leave a comment and share with all of us!

One final note, this month we're participating in the January 2014 Let’s Homeschool High School Blog Hop. Join us in supporting other high school homeschool bloggers! 

God Bless,


  1. Hi Beth, it's Jackie stopping by from the January Let's Homeschool High School Blog Hop.

    I wanted to personally thank you for linking up with us this month.

    I appreciate your review. I will have to check out the Purdue Writing Lab. My daughter enjoys writing, but could always use more practice in that area.

    I look forward to you linking up with us again next month.

    Let's Homeschool High School Admn.

    1. Jackie,
      Thanks for stopping by and for hosting the Let's Homeschool High School Blog Hop. It's a wonderful idea and we're so happy to be part of it. I enjoyed perusing the other blogs and discovering new bloggers!


  2. Let's not forget about Essay Styles for High School - from your favorite authors! :-)

  3. Of course, Dana. I was really referring to general writing curriculum, not specific high school courses. How could I forget Essay Styles, since I teach it! :)

  4. This totally cracked me up-- I could have written it! People *always* ask my thoughts on writing curriculum as a writer. As a reviewer, I have had the chance to try just about everything out there. And you know what?

    I don't use any of them.

    Nope. I prefer the natural "write, read, edit, discuss, rewrite" method. So far, it's working for my kiddos!

    1. The writing process is one of those ideas that really can't be improved exercise, you just have to do it regularly to see results! :) Thanks for your comment!

  5. I just started looking at the Purdue Writing Lab and it does look wonderful! Thank you for recommending it. I'm sure it will be very useful to us over the next few years.

    Stopping by from the LHSHS Blog Hop.

  6. I am a newbie, and will be homeschooling a high schooler.

  7. If you need any assistance, please don't hesitate to ask! If you need classes for your high schooler, be sure to check out We're adding to our offered classes for next year, as well. Bless you as you begin your journey with your high schooler. It's an amazing experience!