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 Teaching Literature with Text Sets

Besides modeling and providing guided practice, another important pedagogical tool that teachers can use to encourage and nurture close reading and complex analysis of literature in their students is the introduction of thematic units and text sets for the study of literature.

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1. A multi-genre text set is a grouping of various texts around a central concept or theme that is particularly applicable to adolescents (e.g., identity, body image, a drive to

fit in or for social acceptance, etc. or themes derived from these concepts). The text set often revolves around a central novel (though other genres could be considered as the central text). The central text should be regarded as a major piece of literature for adolescents because of its enduring theme(s), colorful and skillful use of language, and ability to move adolescents forward in their cognitive and emotional growth. The central novel may or may not be regarded as canonical.


After selecting a central text, the next step in creating a text set is to gather resources of different reading levels, genres, and media that offer perspectives on one theme from the central text. By collecting materials ranging from fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to maps, charts, historical documents, photographs, songs, and paintings, teachers can add voices and perspectives to the study of any complex issue. This is especially important in classrooms where the whole class is using a single textbook or novel. Putting together a text set also provides all students -- regardless of reading level or learning style -- with a "way in" to a subject. Even competent adult learners seek out "easy books" to learn about a new or complex topic, so providing children's books, popular music, or videos/films in a text set can be regarded as a way for students to connect to or understand some aspect of the central theme. In addition, alternative media effectively present important content in a short period of time, and they can be revisited to serve as a mediator for ideas and concepts presented in the more challenging texts in the text set.

Source: Adapted from See this website for more ideas about constructing text sets and for examples of text sets.


Teachers can take the following steps when creating and using text sets (Source: :



Source: Adapted from See this website for more ideas about constructing text sets and for examples of text sets.




List of texts that are accessible to many readers