The Center for Lit has done something amazing for teaching literature. You don’t need textbooks or analytical reviews. You just need to know how to ask the right questions.
Their flagship product, Teaching the Classics is an eight-hour seminar for parents, teachers, and readers. It gives them a tool for reading literature that acts like a pair of glasses which are to be worn whenever you read a book. This method shows how every story has the same structure, and it provides a long list of questions that will equip the teacher or parent to begin a Socratic Dialogue. By using dialogue a teacher can help the student engage with the story in a way that challenges his own views and opinions, rather than asking the student to assess a story whereby he just applies his paradigm to the text. Teaching the Classics also reviews literary devices and their importance to understanding classic literature.
This program is for all grades and beyond. In fact, it’s easiest to start to learn how to teach with dialogue using kids’ picture books. A shorter story means less that gets in the way of spotting the key elements. But we can use this with texts as complex as Tolstoy or Tolkien. Beyond the seminar, the only thing you need is a desire to learn, and a good book.