Literature Analysis, Literal Thinkers and Movies in High School

Why is literature analysis easy for some teens and SOOO difficult for others? If you are homeschooling high school students, you may have observed that analyzing, discussing and writing about literature comes very naturally to some kids and is a source of great frustration to others. Understanding why it’s hard for some opens the door to helping them succeed. In particular, concrete thinkers (those who like to memorize the right answer and describe things in black and white imagery) are often the ones who will benefit the most from a teacher who understands the way they think. Some kids need a teacher who is willing to help them grasp the deeper layers of literature using a totally different vehicle — something like a movie — to get the discussion started. Are you willing to explore the potential connections between literature analysis, literal thinkers and movies in high school? It just might open up a new arena of success for your “concrete kid”!

Literature Analysis, Literal Thinkers and Movies in High School

Literature Analysis, Literal Thinkers and Movies

Literature analysis is more than just comprehension. We spend years in the younger grades helping our students learn to really comprehend what they are reading, to notice cause and effect, to track the plot arc through a story, to recognize which character is the protagonist, to understand the ways in which descriptive passages and narrative passages are different, and these things are all important. But by the time students enter high school they need to be adding another layer of understanding to their study of literature. Comprehension is no longer enough, and we introduce the concepts of literature analysis and build our teens’ skill with analyzing, discussing and writing about the deeper layers of a book.

Some teens are thrilled with literature analysis! They find comprehension questions boring and feel insulted by the busywork found in comprehension-based literature study guides. (BTW, if you are looking for NO-BUSYWORK, NO-OVERKILL literature study guides, the 7Sisters Ebookstore has dozens to choose from. Click here to see what your literature-loving teen might enjoy!) But other teens find the leap from comprehension to analysis to be a serious challenge.

Literal thinkers are those folks who like things with clear right and wrong answers. They like black and white choices. They observe what is front of them and draw a conclusion quickly based on the evidence. They often excel in science or math. They MAY have been strong readers all along, mastering reading comprehension with ease only to find that the ANALYSIS of what they are reading sounds like vague nonsense. A teen who is a literal thinker with a strong vocabulary may have no trouble at all reading Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities and keeping the characters and settings straight, but being asked, “WHY do you think Dr. Manette kept talking about his imprisonment that night?” frustrates him tremendously.

Literature Analysis, Literal Thinkers and Movies in High School

Cinema Studies for Literature Learning

This is where MOVIES can come in to the picture as a tool for success! Because well-written movies are only a couple of hours in length but tell a complete story, they provide a limited vehicle for literary analysis that is much less likely to overwhelm and frustrate literal thinkers. Additionally, the visual medium offers clues for analysis that are not present on the printed page — facial expressions, tones of voice, the music playing in the background, the type of camera work employed — these visual elements all point to a deeper understanding of what is happening in the story the movie is telling.

Are ALL movies good for literary analysis? The obvious answer is no, but neither are all books good for literary analysis. Choose movies that were adapted effectively from great books, or choose movies that are original stories but are respected for their well-crafted storytelling style. Use a study guide like those you can find here at 7Sisters in our Cinema Studies for Literature Learning collection to point your literal thinker’s attention in a particular direction and then ask her questions that help her notice the clues in the story that lead to deeper thinking about themes, symbols, motivation, relationship, social commentary, irony and more.

Success with Language Arts for your teen just may be right around the corner if you take a shot at combining literature analysis, literal thinkers and movies in high school homeschool!

What makes a good movie adaptation of a classic book?


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Literature Analysis, Literal Thinkers and Movies in High School

Sabrina Justison

20+ year homeschool mom and curriculum developer for Fred's wife. Writing, drama, music, blogs, kids, shoes, coffee, & books in varying orders on various days. He is God, He is good & He loves me.

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