Literature Guide: The Drinking Gourd (Crew Review)

Progeny Press review
One of my favorite things about being a parent is reading great books with my children.  There are so many benefits to sharing quality literature, especially having the opportunity to point out biblical truth and engage my children in discussion.  Progeny Press makes this easy to do with their multitude of literature guides.  We recently had a chance to go through The Drinking Gourd E-Guide, which goes along with The Drinking Gourd by F.N. Monjo, a book about the Underground Railroad.

About this Progeny Press Literature Guide

I first discovered Progeny Press two years ago when I had a chance to review their literature guide for Frog and Toad Together.  I loved the experience of reading through a favorite book while also looking at biblical concepts we found in the story.  Since then, I’ve bought several of their other guides, both for younger elementary students, and for high school level books that my husband and I read together for fun.

The Drinking Gourd E-Guide is intended to be used with lower elementary students.  Monjo’s book could easily be read by most 2nd or 3rd graders, but it also works well as a read aloud.  The literature guide itself could be challenging for some students to read alone; strong readers could read the questions and write in their answers, but others could answer the questions with someone leading them through it.

The 35-page literature guide features the following:

  • Synopsis of the story
  • Background information
  • About the author
  • Before-you-read Activities (books to read to better help understand the time period, learning the “Drinking Gourd” song, identifying the Big Dipper, a map activity, and research prompts about historical figures whose names appear in the story)
  • vocabulary worksheet
  • The main section, with questions for 1-3 chapters at a time.  Some of the questions help make sure the student understood what they read, and others help the student process what they read and consider the themes (such as bravery, honesty, and justice.)
  • A “hidden message” worksheet
  • After-you-read-Activities (Creative writing prompts, suggestions for learning more about constellations, instructions for making a drinking gourd)
  • Suggestions for Further Reading (other books by the author as well as more books about subject discussed in The Drinking Gourd)
  • Answer Key

Like many of the titles from Progeny Press, The Drinking Gourd Study Guide is available in print, CD-ROM, or instant download as an e-guide (what I received).  (Some are also Interactive, where the student can type the answers right into the document.)

Our Experience

Before diving into the book, we went through some of the pre-reading activities suggested in the E-Guide.  Then the boys and I took turns reading from The Drinking Gourd, but since my purpose was really just to enjoy the book together, I ended up taking over completely.  We kept our time short, just going through one or two chapters a day (six altogether), following up by discussing the questions in the literature guide.  I printed it out because I find it easier to use a hard copy, but we really only wrote on a few pages.  I wanted to have a good discussion, rather than making the boys labor over writing in as short an answer as they could come up with, so if the page just consisted of questions, I used it to lead our conversation rather than making them do it as a worksheet.  When they’re older and can work more independently on guides like this, I’ll probably have them write in their answers and THEN discuss.

I love the way Progeny Press study guides send readers to the Bible as they consider the themes in the literature they are reading.  For example, Tommy and his father break the law by helping Jim’s family escape.  His father talks to him about why he can’t obey a law that treats people as property.  The study guide has students look up the definitions for “just” and “justice,” then looks at the story of the Magi in Matthew 2 and talks about how they disobeyed Herod’s instructions.  “Was this the right thing to do?  Why?”  I’m so thankful for these literature guides that not only prompt our family to think more deeply about the story, but also look to God’s Word in processing right and wrong.

We enjoyed The Drinking Gourd and this study guide so much, we ended up spending several weeks Exploring the Underground Railroad.  Also, members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew went through several other Progeny Press guides, so click on the banner below to read their reviews.

Literature Study Guides from a Christian Perspective {Progeny Press Review}
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One comment

  • grtlyblesd

    I like how you used the questions as a guide, rather than getting bogged down in having the kids fill out pages of worksheets. I need to give myself permission to do things like that sometimes.