“How do I read this book?”

It might sound like a funny question at first, but when you spend some time thinking about, is the reading process always completely straightforward? After all, from New Criticism to Postmodernism, there are plenty of different approaches to go around. (Don’t worry, we’re not going to dive into those complex subjects today).

Instead, imagine for a second that one of your students came up, book in hand, and asked this question. For us educators, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. And in fact, one of our staff members here at Writing with Design was asked something similar not long ago. At first glance, the question might seem a little silly or intentionally meant to stump you as a writing or reading teacher.

But how exactly do we read a book, really, truly, deeply read a book? Here’s a few ideas to expand the conversation about literary books in our classrooms:

  • What are the cultural contexts that the book was written in? How does our own culture differ now?

  • What was the writer trying to accomplish by writing the story? Were there any unintentional messages hidden within it?

  • How well-developed is the world the author created?

  • What events in the story shape the characters’ perceptions or beliefs? How do the characters, in turn, shape the events around them?

  • How would you change the book if you were to write it differently?
It might sound like a funny question at first, but when you spend some time thinking about, is the reading process always completely straightforward?

Curious how Writing with Design can help your students with writing about their favorite books? Get in touch!