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Book Reviews

Rainbow Resource: Review of Latin Alive Book 1

The following review of the Latin Alive series is posted on Rainbow Resource Center.

Maybe you just recently decided to incorporate Latin into your homeschool, and you’re looking over your shoulder at the fun and simple elementary programs that are now too basic and ahead at the thick and intimidating upper-level courses available. You wonder, “Can my child really handle that?” If you’re wanting to begin now, never fear! This well-designed and manageable course by Classical Academic Press is designed for middle school and high-school students who are just starting out in Latin. The series, which will eventually consist of three books which make up a 3-year program, provides students the opportunity to learn the Latin language and grammar, using an incremental approach. Drawing upon the successful teaching methodology used in Wheelock’s Latin, the authors of this program have in essence taken the best approaches and features of Wheelock’s, and designed a thorough course that is more appropriate (and exciting) for middle school and high school beginners. Also, because the novelty of studying Latin only goes so far, the program also does a fantastic job of demonstrating how relevant Latin is to us, even today. If you are not just starting out in Latin, or perhaps even wanting to continue your journey from Latin for Children, you will find much review in Book One, but thorough coverage of grammar and the reading passages from Latin writers will be well worth continuing your journey.

For the full review, which includes a thorough description of the book click here.

The Classic Texan – April 21, 753 B.C. and A.D. 1836

All classicists know that today, April 21, is the anniversary of the founding of Rome. All Texans know that today, April 21, is the anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. Do you know the story of the Classic Texan, the legendary figure of Sam Houston and the imprint of the Classics in his own life? His tale is truly that of a modern Odysseus or Aeneas beset with a torment that forces him from his home and sends him wandering through the wild west. Eventually, Providence would guide him to Texas where his destiny and that of the land he came to love became forever inextricably linked. Read the rest of this entry »

Latin Alive vs. Henle – A Comparison

To tell the truth, I didn’t think it was possible to have a better Latin education than I was offered. But my mind went wild with the Latin Alive! Reader book that comes after, or perhaps with, level 3 of the series. I would have loved that book!!!

My son and I have jumped right in with Latin Alive! Book 1 this summer. Last school year, he completed the first pass of Henle in Classical Conversation’s Challenge A program. Already, though, just working a little over the summer with Latin Alive, we are much happier with this new program. Furthermore, I can see that my son is understanding and retaining more readily with Latin Alive. This is a much better program than Henle—which I always held in high regard before.

The above quotation is an excerpt from a letter written by a co-op leader from Classical Conversations.  To read her full review of the Latin Alive program and how it compares with Henle (another excellent Latin curriculum) please visit the full article on the Classical Academic Press blog site:  Switching from Henle to Latin Alive – A Letter.

Latin Alive Reader: Latin Literature from Cicero to Newton!

LA Team: Steven, Chris, Karen, and Gaylan at the book release during the national conference for the Society for Classical Learning in Austin, TX.

We are very excited to announce the publication of the fourth and final installment of the Latin Alive series!  The Latin Reader is the fruition of the dream Gaylan and I shared for the series from its earliest beginning. It was our desire to create a series that would train students to read original Latin literature and then enjoy the fruits of such literature, not just from ancient Rome, but literature that reflects the great breadth and depth of Latin influence through the ages. This unique reader provides excerpts of Latin literature that includes the prose of Cicero, Caesar, and Bacon; the poetry of Vergil, Ovid, Queen Elizabeth and Milton; the theological treatises of Augustine, Luther, and Aquinas; and the scientific musings of Pliny and Newton.  And these are only a few of the authors represented!  So great is the content, that we are delighted to welcome Dr. Steven L. Jones as a third author for this special book.  You can read more about Steven on the “about the authors” page of this blog site.


As with previous LA books we include biographies of each Latin author so students can learn about the context of each piece: historical, social, and even political.  Footnotes abound which provide further insight to the language, idioms, and cultural references for each piece.  We have also provided a variety of reading comprehension questions (Latin and English) to allow teachers to explore the readings further with students.  For all intents and purposes, this book serves as the basis for a humanities class in Latin.  For my students, this is their favorite Latin class.

Another distinctive unique to this book is the inclusion of a thorough grammar review in the second section.  Teachers and students may use this to review aspects of Latin grammar that apply to the pieces of literature they are reading.  Numerous appendices with reference charts, pronunciation review, and lessons in both Medieval Latin and poetry make this book on Latin literature complete.  There truly is nothing like this in circulation to date.  We are overjoyed to share this treasury with all of you.

You can read more about the Latin Alive Reader on the CAP website, including sample chapters.  Here is a sneak peek at the wealth of literature contained within its pages.  Among these you will see many of the authors and titles often included among the literature lists of classical schools.  This is very intentional as it is our hope through this book to support and enhance the study of these pieces of literature.

  1. Pro Archaia, Cicero
  2. Cornelia Gracchi, Nepos
  3. De Bello Gallico, Caesar
  4. Tria Poemata, Catullus
  5. Aeneid, Vergil
  6. Quattuor Poemata, Horace
  7. Metamorphoses, Ovid
  8. Fabulae Breves, Phaedrus
  9. de Ira, Seneca
  10. Evangelium secundum Sanctum Lucum, St. Luke
  11. Evangelium sucundum Sanctum Mattheum, St. Matthew
  12. Naturalis Historia, Piny the Elder
  13. Institutio Oratio, Quintilian
  14. Alia Epigrammata, Martial
  15. Perigrinatio Egeriae, Egeria
  16. Confessiones Sancti Augustini, St. Augustine
  17. Confessiones Sancti Patricii, St. Patrick
  18. Institutiones Divinarum et Saecularium Litterarum, Cassiodorus
  19. Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum, Bede
  20. Vita de Caroli Magni, Einhard
  21. Magna Charta, The 25 Barons
  22. Summa Theologica, St. Aquinas
  23. Epistola ad Ciceronem, Petrarch
  24. Epistola Latina Columbi, Columbus
  25. Disputatio pro Declaratione Virtutis Indulgentiarum, Luther
  26. Stultitiae Laus, Erasmus
  27. Adversus Lutheranos, Cajetan
  28. Carmen et Oratio, Queen Elizabeth
  29. Elegia Secunda, Milton
  30. Historia Regni Henrici Septimi Angliae, Bacon
  31. Principa Mathematica, Newton

In addition, we have provided two readings included on the AP Latin syllabus from Caesar and Vergil.


Latin Alive Series – Book 3 now available!

Latin Alive Book 3 is now available!  This text completes the grammar series with the study of the subjunctive mood and a fabulous unit on Latin poetry.  All of the reading are unadapted original texts.  We are very delighted by the list of readings that have come together for this book.

I am also thrilled to announce that we have also completed  writing on a reader that will follow this grammar series.  The reader is now in editing and graphic design, but coming in 2014 we will be pleased to share . . .

Latin Alive Reader: Literature from Cicero to Newton

This book will serve as an excellent reading course for students of Latin Alive or any other full Latin grammar course.  You may liken this to a humanities course in Latin.  Students will have the opportunity to read a very wide variety of literary styles and genre from the late republic through the dawn of the  modern age.  They will be able to use their Latin knowledge to read the primary sources that tell the narrative of history.  Stay tuned for more information!

The Eagle: a movie review

My 7th grade students absolutely loved this book. As a class we attended opening night, then adjourned to review the movie and the book over pizza. The following is a review of the movie compared to the book through the eyes of 8 members of my 7th grade class. Read the rest of this entry »

Latin Alive, Book 2 – Now Shipping!

Latin Alive Book 2 is now shipping! Read on for more details on this brand new addition to the LA series. Read the rest of this entry »

Seminar and Book Review

“Karen puts the “classy” in classical Latin education.  Both in print and in person she brings academic rigor, vision, and charm to the subject.  She infuses the Conference with well-organized information and enthusiasm making it an exponentially better experience than trying to review it all by myself.  So glad I attended and so glad that God has led her to create the interdisciplinary (grammar, history, literature) series that Latin Alive is.”

-Rhonda from Christ Classical Academy in Tallahasee, Fl.

One of the many reviews you can read on the Latin For Teachers website (link in the blogroll).  Karen will not be leading the LFT seminar in Austin in 2010, as she is taking some time off to finish the Latin Alive book series.  Her grammar school seminar is available on DVD from Classical Academic Press.  Karen is available for training and consultation.

Endorsement from Karl Galinsky

I am excited to report that Latin Alive! Book 1 has received a very kind endorsement from Dr. Karl Galinsky, the Floyd A. Cailloux Centennial Professor of Classics and Distinguished Teaching Professor at The University of Texas at Austin. 

“Latin Alive is a superbly designed and user-friendly  introduction to Latin without giving up any thoroughness.  It is the product of two highly experienced teachers and very suitable for Jr. High and High School students. I recommend it with enthusiasm for its wealth of stimulating information.”

Thank you, Professor Galinsky, for your kind support!

For more information on Dr. Karl Galinsky you may read his profile at the following link:

Book Review by Erin Davis-Valdez

            As Classical Schools have sprung up across the country over the past 30 years, and more and more schools are beginning to offer Latin, a demand has been created for a text to match the ideals of the movement.  The spread of Latin is heartening to me as a devote of the classics, though it sometimes has overwhelmed the resources of parents, teachers, and schools who want to implement the sort of true liberal arts education that produced our country’s founders. 

            With the renewed interest, there has been a spate of new textbooks and materials which have aimed to fill the demand for this valuable content.  This has produced a sort of crisis of selection, making it hard for many of these new programs to distinguish the truly worthy from the merely adequate.  Some texts have lacked in their authentic “Latinity,” others have not adequately matched an understanding of grammar to their emphasis on vocabulary and culture, and others are simply not suited to the increasingly young age of this new generation of Latin students.  In all cases, as Latin instruction declined in the last century, so did the quality of the materials for teachers.  Grammar was replaced with topics of greater “relevance,” ancient texts were supplanted with conversational passages, and students were left generally unprepared to translate real Latin. 

            Karen Moore was my first Latin teacher mentor at Grace Academy.  She and I both shared a simple wish – that we could find a beginning Latin text be more like the traditional and effective beginning Latin primers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  We enjoyed collecting old Latin textbooks when we happened upon them in used bookstores, treasuring their simplicity, directness, and aptness for their intended audience.    

            In that year, 2003, Karen began to conceive of a text that would meet these needs.  In Latin Alive!, I believe she and her distinguished co-author Gaylan DuBose have succeeded in the lofty goal of producing a truly outstanding beginning textbook to meet the needs of this new generation of Latin teachers and students.  The text is engaging, with translation passages which present Roman history in a logical and sequential order.  The explanation of grammar is strait-forward and easily understandable.  The illustrations enhance the text and are not mere distractions.  Roman culture is presented in context and reinforced in the stories.  Teachers with a limited Latin background will rejoice in the generous Teacher’s Edition, which not only “gives the right answers,” but delves into deeper explanations and suggests routes of further research and investigation.  In this way, it does not condescend, but challenges teachers to master their subject.  Likewise, it does not “talk down” to students or limit them by introducing grammar in a piecemeal and apologetic fashion.  It is this emphasis on the totality of the classical world, not just isolated aspects of it, that makes this book and the later books in the series worthy of the renewed interest in classical, liberal arts education. 

            I have urged the adoption of this textbook for our middle school beginners at Hill Country Christian School of Austin, recommended it to my colleagues across the country, and am eagerly anticipating the seeing the fruits of Karen and Gaylan’s labor in producing the next generation of students, citizens, scholars, and leaders.  Our democracy faces great challenges this century, and a citizenry equipped and ennobled by their acquaintance with the great thoughts and civilization which inspired our nation’s highest ideals is of increasingly pressing importance.  The modern era’s “progressive” emphasis on utility as the singular virtue has failed our students and bankrupted our nation’s moral and intellectual capital.  This should not be a cause for despair.  We know what to do.  Let’s not deceive ourselves or our students into believing that anything worth doing is going to be easy.  As Hesiod wrote,

Well, let me tell you, it’s easy to choose base cowardice, and a lot of it.  It’s the easy route, and lies very close at hand.  Yet instead the undying gods have set before us the sweat of excellence.  And the path to it is long and uphill and jagged at first.  It’s when one gets to the top that it becomes easy, though it’s been difficult on the way up (emphasis mine).

            Tracy Lee Simmonds in his excellent book, Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin, quotes one of Evelyn Waugh’s characters, Scott-King, a classical languages teacher whose enrollment is precipitously dropping and whose headmaster is pressuring him to take on more fashionable subjects which would suit parents’ demands to “qualify boys for jobs in the modern world.”  Scott-King declines, saying,

“If you approve, head master, I will stay as long as any boy wants to read the classics.  I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.”

“It’s a short-sighted view, Scott-King.”

“There, head master, with all respect, I differ from you profoundly.  I think it the most long-sighted view it is possible to take.”

            Let’s be long-sighted.  Let’s chose for ourselves the sweat of excellence.  Let’s encourage the next generation to follow and then overtake us to the top.





Respectfully submitted by Erin Davis-Valdez, M.A., Upper School Latin and Greek and Classics Department Chair, Hill Country Christian School of Austin.

  •  If you would like to share a review of Latin Alive! with us, please feel free to reply to this post, or email your review to


This infelicitous translation is my own, based on the Loeb Greek text, edited by Glenn W. Most.  Works and Days. Cambridge, MA.,Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914.

Simmonds, Tracy Lee.  Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin.  Wilmington: ISI Books, 2002

Evelyn Waugh.  Scott-King’s Modern Europe.  Boston: Little, Brown, 1949