Many years ago, I read and reviewed Foster’s guide to reading literature. When I saw How to Read Literature like a Professor for Kids also by Thomas Foster (HarperCollins Children’s, 2013), I decided to read it to get a little idea of how he adapts his ideas for kids.
Once again, Foster’s conversational tone takes the reader on a journey through different themes in literature. This time, each chapter is quite short, and the entire book is well suited to a teenage reader. I disliked how brief the chapters were and how each chapter failed to flow into the next. The organization felt choppy because of the brevity, and although it was conversational, it felt stiff because of the lack of flow between subjects. And also, I was not impressed with some of the literature he suggests. I felt there were better books he could suggest to the young reader.
After Foster discusses many themes that appear in literature, he provides a sample story (“The Garden Party” by Katherine Mansfield) and an analysis of it. I liked this touch, even if his analysis is far different from how I would have approached the story myself. He ends with a suggested reading list.
What I liked most is that Foster explains well to the reader that learning to recognize themes and symbols in literature is a life-long process. As with learning to play the piano, one must practice gaining fluency. Reading literature with depth and appreciation also takes a little bit of work. Although I was an English major and I already love finding depth in quality literature, his brief volume was a nice reminder to me that doing so is fun, worthwhile, and a life-long journey toward understanding. I hope I can teach my own children to love reading literature in such a way too. It is fun.