For your convenience, Handwriting Lessons Through Literature offers five different handwriting choices: slant cursive, vertical cursive, basic italic, cursive italic, and manuscript. (See the FAQ for which choice I recommend.) The PDFs contain all five choices. Soon, the workbooks will be available individually as spiral-bound print copies in the font of your choice.
HLTL begins with your choice of two different instructional copywork books, Handwriting for Beginning Readers and Handwriting for All Ages. These books teach handwriting by focusing on chunks of words: phonograms and syllables. This has multiple benefits. Practicing with the phonograms and syllabary reinforces proper spelling. The same pages can be used from year to year for additional practice. And for cursive writing, the process of writing through the syllabary includes all possible cursive joins.
HFBR and HFAA are very similar in content. They both teach 75 phonograms, capital letters, Webster’s syllabary, and some numbers. Either book can be used as a workbook for learning to read and write the phonograms while using Reading Lessons Through Literature, which can be used for either reading or spelling.
The main difference between the two books is the additional material contained in HFBR, including phonemic awareness exercises, built-in phonogram review and quizzes, and some spelling words from RLTL Level 1. These extra activities are geared toward the child just beginning to learn to read, though please keep in mind that the additional reading activities are not a necessary component to RLTL. Please note: HFBR is intended solely as a child’s first handwriting book, so it does not include italic cursive since italic writing begins with basic and transitions to cursive.
HFAA, on the other hand, focuses on teaching handwriting through practicing phonograms and the syllabary. This practice will help with reading and spelling, but HFAA does not focus on beginning readers the way that HFBR does. HFAA contains review pages at the end which can be used for teaching, practice, or review for older students, using a small number of pages instead of the one-phonogram-or-syllable-per-page worksheets intended for younger students.
If you’re trying to choose between the two, I recommend HFBR for those who desire the additional reading activities. HFAA is better for those who have a wider range of ages to teach or for those who plan to use the workbook for practice and review over the course of several years.
Because HFAA teaches handwriting using the building blocks of words instead of words themselves, it is truly appropriate for all ages. It is also a wonderful way to review good handwriting habits each year while using copywork from quality literature for practice the rest of the time.
The remaining books in the HLTL series are copywork books for continuing practice, though you can also return to the original book for review and practice as well. Currently, there are three copywork books available: Elson Readers Primer, The Story Book of Science, and A Child’s Garden of Verses. The workbooks from the English Lessons Through Literature series can also be used for continuing practice, even if you don’t use ELTL.
The Elson Readers Primer is a FREE copywork book formatted for younger students, and it is intended to be used in conjunction with Reading Lessons Through Literature Level 1. I do not recommend spelling tests, so copywork is a beautiful way to reinforce the spelling of words from the spelling lists while also practicing handwriting. The entire book of the Elson Readers Primer is included in this copywork book, giving plenty of copywork which includes only words that the student is learning in RLTL.
The Story Book of Science includes two copywork pages per chapter from Jean Henri Fabre’s book.
A Child’s Garden of Verses includes the entire text of Robert Louis Stevenson’s book of poetry.