9 Approaches to Teaching Literature

If you were to ask twelve different teachers how they teach their favorite book, you would get twenty-four answers at the very least. The truth is, there is no one way to approach the teaching of literature in the classroom. In fact, there are hundreds of ways, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. And this is one of the fun things about literature.

The best way to determine which approach is right for you and your students is to experiment with as many as possible. You should understand that depending on the lesson topic, you can choose several approaches. For example, if you are teaching three types of irony and use materials from StoryboardThat, there are at least three approaches that will fit your topic. However, you should also consider the age and cultural background of your students to make the right choice.


The following nine approaches are some of the most popular methods used by instructors today.

1. Socratic Seminar

A Socratic seminar is a method of cooperative learning that gets students to think deeply about a text. The seminars are named after Socrates, who was known for his use of the Socratic method of questioning. In a Socratic seminar, students sit in a circle and take turns asking and answering questions about the text. The goal is to get students to engage with the text and with each other critically.

Socratic seminars can be used with any type of literature, but they work especially well with works of philosophy or history. This is because the Socratic method is designed to get people to think deeply about complex ideas.

2. Literature Circles

A literature circle is a small group of students who meet regularly to discuss a book they are reading. Each student in the group has a specific role to play, such as discussion leader or word wizard. The roles rotate each week, so everyone in the group gets a chance to lead the discussion.

Literature circles work well with fiction and nonfiction texts. They are a good way to get students to think critically about the text and to learn how to lead a discussion. However, they work better with older students who can analyze the reading material and draw their own conclusions.

3. Book Clubs

A book club is similar to a literature circle but is usually larger and more informal. In a book club, students read a book on their own and then meet to discuss it. There is no set structure or roles, so students can discuss the book however they want. Book clubs work well with fiction and nonfiction texts. They are a good way to get students to read independently and to discuss their thoughts on the book with others. However, book clubs can be difficult to manage with large groups of students.

4. Approaching Literary Theories

There are dozens of different literary theories, such as feminism, Marxism, and post-colonialism. Each theory offers a different lens for understanding a text. For example, a feminist critic might look at a book and examine the way female characters are portrayed. A Marxist critic might look at the same book and examine the economic relationships between the characters.

Teaching literary theory can be a great way to get students to think critically about the texts they are reading. It can also be a great way to get students to think about the world around them. However, literary theory can be difficult to understand. It can be even more difficult to teach. If you decide to use this approach, ensure you are well-versed in the theory you are teaching.

5. Using Bloom’s Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a framework for thinking that breaks down cognitive processes into six levels: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. You can use Bloom’s Taxonomy to create activities and assignments that focus on different levels of thinking. For example, an activity that focuses on the level of understanding might involve having students explain the plot of a book. An activity that focuses on the level of applying might involve having students apply the principles of a book to their own lives.

Using Bloom’s Taxonomy is a great way to get students to think deeply about the texts they are reading. It is also a great way to create differentiated assignments. However, you need to ensure that you know how to teach using Bloom’s Taxonomy and prepare well before the class.


6. Response Journaling

Response journaling is a way for students to respond to a text in writing. They can write about anything they want, from their favorite character to the themes of the book. Response journaling can be done in class or for homework.

Journaling also encourages students to practice writing regularly, fosters personal connections to literature, and provides classes with enjoyable writing work daily. And it’s a great way to get reluctant readers and writers to engage with the text.

7. Reading for Vocabulary

One way to improve reading comprehension is to focus on vocabulary. This can be done by having students keep a list of new words they encounter while reading. They can look up the definitions of the words and then use them in a sentence. This activity can be done in class or for homework.

8. Reading Aloud

Reading aloud is a great way to model fluent reading and help students with their own reading. It is also a great way to engage reluctant readers. When choosing a book to read aloud, ensure it is at the right level for your students and is interesting enough to hold their attention. However, also take into account the fact that this activity is most commonly used with younger students. At the same time, when it comes to older pupils, the perfect decision is to read poetry aloud.

9. Guided Reading

Guided reading is a method of teaching reading that involves working with small groups of students. The teacher works with a group of students of the same reading level and uses a leveled book as the basis for the lesson. The teacher guides the students through the book, helping them with difficult words and concepts.

In Conclusion

There are many different ways to teach reading comprehension. The best way to choose a method is to consider the age and ability level of your students, the available resources, and your own teaching style. Try out different methods and see what works best for you and your students.

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