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Has anyone had their high schooler read this? I'm thinking of assigning it over the course of several weeks in the beginning of our 9th grade year for literature before we embark on a Great Books course. How do you use it in your home school?

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Amy:

I admire this book a great deal.

With my own high-school-aged kids, however, I found two problems with Adler: First, reading the entire book is a bit much — overload for most high schoolers; most kids can only stand a modest amount of reading about reading. Second, the key messages are best delivered, I found, in conjunction with actually reading challenging texts, so that the student immediately begins applying the key ideas. 

Here's what I did:

  • The chapter "How to Mark a Book" in support of challenging assignments. I selected what I considered a key chapter from Adler, condensed and updated it (see attached), and then had my kids read the Adler chapter in conjunction with reading a challenging author.
  • Discussion. When my kids and I discussed their reading, we would also discuss their annotations. Whenever interesting points emerged from our discussions, I encouraged them to beef up their annotations — i.e., transform each book into a record of their own learning and observations, as Adler recommends.
  • Articles. I began writing my own articles about annotating as a necessary study skill. In these pieces, I would point out things never discussed by Adler, like the role annotations play in college-level studies — for instance, see here:
    "Annotating the text, Part 2"
    These articles, by the way, have been discovered by English teachers in public schools around the country, and at the beginning of each school year, many teachers make these pieces required reading for their students. 

I still use the Adler chapter, by the way, in certain of my courses that involve close reading, e.g., History & Literature of the Middle Ages.

Hope all that is helpful, Amy.

—Roy

How to Mark a Book.pdf

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We also start with How to Mark a Book.  We do read How to Read a Book, but I read it with them.  We read about 3-4 pages per day and stop and discuss as we go along. 

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Interested in replies.  It is an excellent book.  I think that there's a sense in which it is really aimed at out-in-the-world-for-a-bit grownups.  When one has discovered on one's own how hard it is to read great books really well then Adler's guide is a marvelous source of ideas & inspiration. 

Many (most, I should think, but then y'all's children often startle me along these lines) ninth graders haven't internalized this challenge, and so they are coming to Adler as a tool for meeting their teacher's goals for them.  That's a whole different banana.  I like 8's idea of starting with How to Mark a Book -- concrete, and immediately useful to all their reading -- and then going over the book together a bit each day, discussing along the way.  What a lovely way to bring companionship & joy to the serious study of books. 

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I am not terribly fond of Adler's How to Read a Book, as I think it verges on turning reading in to box-checking for some people, and can really kill the joy of reading for others. In his book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs talks about Adler's ideas coming out of a particular time period and philosophy that somewhat turns the classics into a reading checklist for "you're educated if you've read these books".

As previous posters have pointed out, what is important IS learning how to do "close reading" or deep reading, and discussing. Annotating (marking a book) is a way aiding that. Here is a terrific 7-minute video explaining annotation/marking a text. There are 2 different goals in helping high schoolers do "close reading", and they require very different "eyes" and skills, because they have very different desired ends:

1. digging deeper in literature to see what is beyond just plot (the "what happens")
2. learning how to learn from/study from a textbook, which can involve outlining or making study notes

Like previous posters, we did a lot of guided discussion to slowly (over several years) build annotation and digging deeper into literature. A few resources you may find helpful:
- Figuratively Speaking -- learn about literary elements and how they work in literature; check out this past thread: "Figuratively Speaking paired with short stories"
- Teaching the Classics -- learning Socratic method for guiding discussion
- The Art of Poetry -- because learning to deep read poetry is very different from any other type of reading
- Windows to the World -- teaches annotation, then how to use annotations as support in writing a literary analysis, and then covers how about

Edited by Lori D.
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I like Lori's list, but I don't think any of those sources actually address many of the ideas in How to Read a Book.  Perhaps it is bc in discussing the book with my kids, our take away is a different focus bc close reading and digging deep is something we have done their entire lives.  But, just bc they have done that does not mean that they are conscious of the multiple levels of reading or know how to assess a work as a whole.  I would say my kids are probably good at getting through levels 1-3, but level 4 reading is a skill that needs to be consciously developed.  I would say that my college jr really appreciates the skills developed in this book as she spends semesters immersed in reading Russian propaganda and has to evaluate novels in relation to Stalinism.

I think this article does a good summarizing the book and might help you decide if and how you want to read the book.  I have only done it with a 9th grader once and that was bc I did it with 2 of my kids at the same time.  One was a sr and one was a 9th grader.  I do think that waiting until later in a high school might lead to greater depth of understanding its value. (Doing them together was for my benefit, not my 9th grader's.  😉 )

ETA:  oops, forgot to post the link: https://medium.com/@shengyuchen/notes-on-how-to-read-a-book-with-heart-d8e0c25a51df

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I think my youngest was a junior when we did this. She loved the book so much she bought a copy for a friend.🙂

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On 5/4/2020 at 5:16 PM, royspeed said:

Amy:

I admire this book a great deal.

With my own high-school-aged kids, however, I found two problems with Adler: First, reading the entire book is a bit much — overload for most high schoolers; most kids can only stand a modest amount of reading about reading. Second, the key messages are best delivered, I found, in conjunction with actually reading challenging texts, so that the student immediately begins applying the key ideas. 

Here's what I did:

  • The chapter "How to Mark a Book" in support of challenging assignments. I selected what I considered a key chapter from Adler, condensed and updated it (see attached), and then had my kids read the Adler chapter in conjunction with reading a challenging author.
  • Discussion. When my kids and I discussed their reading, we would also discuss their annotations. Whenever interesting points emerged from our discussions, I encouraged them to beef up their annotations — i.e., transform each book into a record of their own learning and observations, as Adler recommends.
  • Articles. I began writing my own articles about annotating as a necessary study skill. In these pieces, I would point out things never discussed by Adler, like the role annotations play in college-level studies — for instance, see here:
    "Annotating the text, Part 2"
    These articles, by the way, have been discovered by English teachers in public schools around the country, and at the beginning of each school year, many teachers make these pieces required reading for their students. 

I still use the Adler chapter, by the way, in certain of my courses that involve close reading, e.g., History & Literature of the Middle Ages.

Hope all that is helpful, Amy.

—Roy

How to Mark a Book.pdf 166.76 kB · 10 downloads

This is very helpful! Thank you so much for sharing your history with this book and your resources. You sound like a great teacher. I read your article linked above, and will certainly use that. I found that I read my Bible at the highest level, but don't usually read other books at that level, maybe a mix between the next two levels down. So I need to consciously improve myself. On the other hand, not all literature is worth the intensive reading that I devote to my Bible, is it?

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On 5/4/2020 at 5:19 PM, 8FillTheHeart said:

We also start with How to Mark a Book.  We do read How to Read a Book, but I read it with them.  We read about 3-4 pages per day and stop and discuss as we go along. 

I've followed your posts for a long time, 8Fil, and I really appreciate your thoughtful comments! I know you have your writing curriculum that involves discussions with your kids, and you have had several kids...how do you have time to read and discuss all these subjects or books with all of your kids??

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On 5/4/2020 at 7:04 PM, Lori D. said:

I am not terribly fond of Adler's How to Read a Book, as I think it verges on turning reading in to box-checking for some people, and can really kill the joy of reading for others. In his book The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction, Alan Jacobs talks about Adler's ideas coming out of a particular time period and philosophy that somewhat turns the classics into a reading checklist for "you're educated if you've read these books".

As previous posters have pointed out, what is important IS learning how to do "close reading" or deep reading, and discussing. Annotating (marking a book) is a way aiding that. Here is a terrific 7-minute video explaining annotation/marking a text. There are 2 different goals in helping high schoolers do "close reading", and they require very different "eyes" and skills, because they have very different desired ends:

1. digging deeper in literature to see what is beyond just plot (the "what happens")
2. learning how to learn from/study from a textbook, which can involve outlining or making study notes

Like previous posters, we did a lot of guided discussion to slowly (over several years) build annotation and digging deeper into literature. A few resources you may find helpful:
- Figuratively Speaking -- learn about literary elements and how they work in literature; check out this past thread: "Figuratively Speaking paired with short stories"
- Teaching the Classics -- learning Socratic method for guiding discussion
- The Art of Poetry -- because learning to deep read poetry is very different from any other type of reading
- Windows to the World -- teaches annotation, then how to use annotations as support in writing a literary analysis, and then covers how about

Thank you for the helpful links and thoughts! I don't want to be elitist about this, but use the book at the right time and way. I do have Teaching the Classics (old version). Would that be sufficient or should I also get one of the other resources to supplement it? Teaching the Classics is a little scary for me. I kind of want more hand-holding that tells me what things to find in the specific books we're reading, because how will I find the time to read them all carefully myself and find those literary devices to lead the Socratic discussion? (Maybe the updated version is more spelled out.) Do Norton anthologies do this, or do I just ask the questions in Teaching the Classics and let my student feel the weight of finding the elements covered in the course? Maybe I should also get WttW and look at that.

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5 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

I like Lori's list, but I don't think any of those sources actually address many of the ideas in How to Read a Book.  Perhaps it is bc in discussing the book with my kids, our take away is a different focus bc close reading and digging deep is something we have done their entire lives.  But, just bc they have done that does not mean that they are conscious of the multiple levels of reading or know how to assess a work as a whole.  I would say my kids are probably good at getting through levels 1-3, but level 4 reading is a skill that needs to be consciously developed.  I would say that my college jr really appreciates the skills developed in this book as she spends semesters immersed in reading Russian propaganda and has to evaluate novels in relation to Stalinism.

I think this article does a good summarizing the book and might help you decide if and how you want to read the book.  I have only done it with a 9th grader once and that was bc I did it with 2 of my kids at the same time.  One was a sr and one was a 9th grader.  I do think that waiting until later in a high school might lead to greater depth of understanding its value. (Doing them together was for my benefit, not my 9th grader's.  😉 )

ETA:  oops, forgot to post the link: https://medium.com/@shengyuchen/notes-on-how-to-read-a-book-with-heart-d8e0c25a51df

THANK YOU for that article! I'm going to print it off tonight and start learning. So what I'm getting from putting all of your responses together is that maybe it would be best to start our Great Books study in 9th grade with a basic summary of the book or a few lessons on "How to Mark a Book" or annotations as roy speed teaches. Then maybe go through How to Read a Book when they're older. I did notice that MP's Classical Rhetoric course sells How to Read a Book. I wrote them this question (before I saw all of your answers):

How to Read a Book: How much of this book do you cover? How much help (as in exercises or answer key) do you give in reading Adler's book? I was thinking of having my upcoming 9th grader read it as the beginning of his high school literature program before we jumped into the Great Books curricula I have. But I wasn't thinking we'd be ready for your Classical Rhetoric program until about 11th grade, when he'd be more than halfway through his Great Books program. Should I (1) wait for him to read Adler's book until we use the Rhetoric program, (2) have him do it in 9th grade as I'd planned, or (3) have him do certain chapters now and wait on other chapters until 11th grade to be used concurrently with this course? I need advice on how to plan Adler's book.

And this was the company reply to that:

The Student book does include comprehension questions about Adler's book, but it does not move slowly and methodically through the content. Students are required to read it, mark it, and then answer a few questions about how it applies to the study of Classical Rhetoric. However, I would recommend that your student read Adler's book in conjunction with the Classical Rhetoric course and not before. As a result, it might be worth considering doing CR in 9th grade.

Does anyone have experience with this course, and how much of the book is covered? It sounds like they cover the whole book, but from the sample, I see they start with How to Mark a Book and then apply that to Aristotle's Rhetoric. I can't tell from the contents that they do much with Adler's book. Also, after all of the responses above, it sounds like 9th grade is not the ideal time for this book. Having looked at the rhetoric course sample, I think 9th grade would be a bit early for my kid as well for that course. But I feel much better at least starting with these resources given to me here. You all are such a help! Thank you!

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1 hour ago, Amy Meyers said:

Thank you for the helpful links and thoughts! I don't want to be elitist about this, but use the book at the right time and way. I do have Teaching the Classics (old version). Would that be sufficient or should I also get one of the other resources to supplement it? Teaching the Classics is a little scary for me. I kind of want more hand-holding that tells me what things to find in the specific books we're reading, because how will I find the time to read them all carefully myself and find those literary devices to lead the Socratic discussion? (Maybe the updated version is more spelled out.) Do Norton anthologies do this, or do I just ask the questions in Teaching the Classics and let my student feel the weight of finding the elements covered in the course? Maybe I should also get WttW and look at that.


re: Teaching the Classics and WttW
You might like to look at the Jill Pike syllabus, which schedules and helps oversee doing BOTH Teaching the Classics and Windows to the World as a 1-year English credit. It is a great option for getting started with literary analysis. That option has your student covering in-depth 6 short stories (and a few poems), and 3 longer works (To Kill a Mockingbird; Jane Eyre; Hamlet) -- I also believe there are a few options for substituting for those 3 longer works.

re: more hand-holding
I found that getting meaty individual guides to go with our books gave us hand-holding for getting started with more formal literature studies, by providing chapter summaries; background information on the author/times; information on literature topics and literary devices and "big ideas" in the book; plus discussion questions for spring-boarding digging into the work. For example, we used both Brightest Heaven of Invention: A Christian Guide to Six Shakespeare Plays + Parallel Shakespeare materials (parallel text + teacher guide + student workbook) for doing some Shakespeare plays. 

re: Norton anthologies
Norton anthologies have in-depth college-level analytical essays about author/works. The anthologies are great for poetry and short stories; longer works are in excerpts, not full works. We did use a few bits here and there from my old college Norton anthologies during our high school years. You mentioned in your other thread that you have the resource of Invitation to the Classics... That has author/works background info and overview of major themes/ideas that just the right length for beginning literary analysis. You could start there and then see if you wanted/needed to go deeper with Norton anthologies. We liked using Invitation to the Classics as introductory material for author/times. We also used a lot of Wikipedia articles on author/works and literary movements for background information.

re: resources to to with How to Read a Book
While I'm still not an Adler fan 😉 , his book clearly works for others. The link to the summary of the book that 8FillTheHeart links above is great. In addition, here are some resources that might be useful for doing the book with a high school student:

- How to Read a Book -- free online PDF of the entire text of the book, so you can see what you think, if it is a fit
- Guide for How to Read a Book -- free online guide with chapter summaries and questions to guide reading the book, from University of St. Thomas
- Ambleside Online -- free online schedule for doing How to Read a Book over 2 years.
- Pandia Press -- lists the email for directly contacting the creator of a go-along workbook to purchase the inexpensive workbook
Pandia Press is a secular 4-year History program publisher; the author of the go-along workbook is Maryalice Newborn (a WTM board participate up through 2018). The email addresses that Pandia Press lists for her are:  MNewborn@windstream.net or maryalice.newborn@gmail.com.  I don't know if she does overseas shipping, or if she might be able to send an e-book/e-document version.

re: How to Mark a Book
How to Mark a Book -- free online article by Adler describing his technique in the July 6,, 1941 issue of Saturday Review of Literature

ETA:
Also, in case it helps, I've attached the lesson info I wrote up on annotation. It is part of the first week's lesson of the weekly lessons I create for my homeschool high school Lit. & Comp co-op classes.

 

Annotation.pdf

Edited by Lori D.
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11 hours ago, Zoo Keeper said:

And to add one more option... SL uses HTRAB as the backbone of its high school American Lit core.  https://www.sonlight.com/430-MD.html

 

Just in case you wanted one. more. thing. to think about. 😉

Gulp. That looks really good, too. 😁🤔🤕

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11 hours ago, Lori D. said:


re: Teaching the Classics and WttW
You might like to look at the Jill Pike syllabus, which schedules and helps oversee doing BOTH Teaching the Classics and Windows to the World as a 1-year English credit. It is a great option for getting started with literary analysis. That option has your student covering in-depth 6 short stories (and a few poems), and 3 longer works (To Kill a Mockingbird; Jane Eyre; Hamlet) -- I also believe there are a few options for substituting for those 3 longer works.

re: more hand-holding
I found that getting meaty individual guides to go with our books gave us hand-holding for getting started with more formal literature studies, by providing chapter summaries; background information on the author/times; information on literature topics and literary devices and "big ideas" in the book; plus discussion questions for spring-boarding digging into the work. For example, we used both Brightest Heaven of Invention: A Christian Guide to Six Shakespeare Plays + Parallel Shakespeare materials (parallel text + teacher guide + student workbook) for doing some Shakespeare plays. 

re: Norton anthologies
Norton anthologies have in-depth college-level analytical essays about author/works. The anthologies are great for poetry and short stories; longer works are in excerpts, not full works. We did use a few bits here and there from my old college Norton anthologies during our high school years. You mentioned in your other thread that you have the resource of Invitation to the Classics... That has author/works background info and overview of major themes/ideas that just the right length for beginning literary analysis. You could start there and then see if you wanted/needed to go deeper with Norton anthologies. We liked using Invitation to the Classics as introductory material for author/times. We also used a lot of Wikipedia articles on author/works and literary movements for background information.

re: resources to to with How to Read a Book
While I'm still not an Adler fan 😉 , his book clearly works for others. The link to the summary of the book that 8FillTheHeart links above is great. In addition, here are some resources that might be useful for doing the book with a high school student:

- How to Read a Book -- free online PDF of the entire text of the book, so you can see what you think, if it is a fit
- Guide for How to Read a Book -- free online guide with chapter summaries and questions to guide reading the book, from University of St. Thomas
- Ambleside Online -- free online schedule for doing How to Read a Book over 2 years.
- Pandia Press -- lists the email for directly contacting the creator of a go-along workbook to purchase the inexpensive workbook
Pandia Press is a secular 4-year History program publisher; the author of the go-along workbook is Maryalice Newborn (a WTM board participate up through 2018). The email addresses that Pandia Press lists for her are:  MNewborn@windstream.net or maryalice.newborn@gmail.com.  I don't know if she does overseas shipping, or if she might be able to send an e-book/e-document version.

re: How to Mark a Book
How to Mark a Book -- free online article by Adler describing his technique in the July 6,, 1941 issue of Saturday Review of Literature

ETA:
Also, in case it helps, I've attached the lesson info I wrote up on annotation. It is part of the first week's lesson of the weekly lessons I create for my homeschool high school Lit. & Comp co-op classes.

 

Annotation.pdf 51.02 kB · 4 downloads

Wow, thank you for all those links and resources. I'll go take a look!

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