Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some Wonderfully Compiled Helps for Literary Analysis

Complied by my friend Lori D on the Well Trained Mind forums and given permission to use here with thanks.

For our first few years of analyzing literature (grades 7-10), we reviewed literary terms and would go a little deeper into some literature together using a good lit. guide or a literature program. Now we tend to "fly solo", using the questions/techniques described in the first few chapters of The Well Educated Mind, and individual lit. guides for background info/springboard into discussion/analysis. We also enjoy practicing analysis by analyzing films -- looking for themes and symbolism; repeated imagery; etc. -- which overlaps a lot with literary analysis and is often an easier place to start "seeing" how to find themes.

BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family! Warmly, Lori D

First, understanding what "tools" you are looking for in a text, and then how those "tools" of literary elements are working to support a theme is very helpful. Some resources, all available at
www.rainbowresource.com (and you can see sample pages there):

- Story Elements series (by grade level)

- Figuratively Speaking: Using Classic Literature to Teach 40 Literary Elements (gr. 5+)
- Walch Toolbox: Prose and Poetry (gr. 6+)

Free online Literary Element definitions:

Jay Braiman: Definitions of Literary Devices:


Wikipedia: Literary Technique: List of Terms with Definitions:


All American: Glossary of Literary Terms


Yorba Middle School: Literary Elements list:


Cyber English: Literary Terms:


Jay Braiman: Definitions of Literary Devices:


And a past thread that may be helpful:

Teaching Literary Elements??

Second, using a resource that teaches you what to look for, how to look for it, and what the deeper meanings in the literature -- consider going through one (or more) of these *together* with your students, so you can learn together, and then can discuss the literature together. Most of these can be seen online at either
www.christianbook.com or www.rainbowresource.com:

Deconstructing Penguins
Check this out of your local library to help you see what literary discussion is about; while it is at an elementary student level, each chapter is a GREAT example of what guided discussion/analysis of a book can look like.

Teaching The Classics

Overview program for teaching you how to draw students into meaningful literary discussions by enabling you to identify and discuss the important themes of any work of literature.

Reading Strands
Teaches you how to discuss literature. No worksheets or student book, but the information can be applied to all literature.
The Well Educated Mind
The first few chapters cover how to read the Great Books, annotating as you read, and what kinds of questions to be asking as you read. The bulk of the book is introduction/background to many classics, and ideas of what to be looking for in each.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines (Foster)

Gives you a lot of information about common symbols and their meanings in classic literature.

How To Read a Book (Adler)

Finally, a literature curriculum can guide you through what are some of the literary elements and how they are used in the works.

Christian Light Education (CLE) Reading -- (gr. 4-8)

Starting in grade 4, CLE's literature component, teaches literary elements, with teacher info and worksheets. While it does not include complete literary works, the program can be completed in a semester, which then allows you lots of time to *apply* what was learned in complete classic literary works.

VERY gentle introductory programs:

- Lightning Lit. & Comp. 7 or 8 (for grades 7 and 8) = http://www.hewitthomeschooling.com/book/blight.asp
- Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings (for grades 7-10) = http://www.homescholar.org/LOTR%20Curr.htm

More In-Depth Programs:

Windows to the World (from IEW) (gr. 8-12)

One semester course which teaches how to annotate, and then how to use your annotations as specific examples in writing a literary analysis essay. GREAT program!

Omnibus (gr. 7-12)

Full year Literature/History/Bible programs to lead you through the study of the great works, teaching with the emphasis on ideas, not simply information. Teacher and student texts; with daily lesson plans. Includes composition, logic and aesthetics. Six levels, for grades 7-12. http://www.veritaspress.com/products.asp?dept=1071

Tapestry of Grace

A complete curriculum, for all grades, written at 4 levels. The top 2 levels are very helpful for guided high school Literature discussion.

And individual literature guides can be very useful:

- Garlic Press publisher =
http://www.garlicpress.com/home/gar/...iterature.html (see samples at www.rainbowresource.com)
- Progeny Press = http://www.progenypress.com/
- The Great Books = www.thegreatbooks.com
- Portals to Literature = www.rainbowresource.com
- Wikipedia articles on authors/works = www.wikipedia.com
- Shmoop free online = http://www.shmoop.com/
- Glencoe free online = http://www.glencoe.com/sec/literature/litlibrary/
- Sparknotes free online = http://www.sparknotes.com/sparknotes/
- Cliff's Notes free online = www.cliffsnotes.com

Also, the book "Invitation to the Classics" is not only a great list of traditional literature to consider covering in high school, but gives very helpful background on each author, his/her times, and on the specific work as a springboard into better understanding the work.

Past WTM forum threads with more ideas on Literature:

Literary Analysis?


If Not Deconstructing Penguins, Then What?


A question about using WEM for high school literature study


How do you approach literature?


Literature study -- desperate plea for pros and cons


The Well Educated Mind


Doing Literature with my 9th grader


What are the benefits of doing a Great Books study as opposed to traditional route?


Where do you start with a high school boy who has never read classic lit?



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