Ever feel intimidated by the Great Books? You’re not alone! Like all works of art, they can seem a little daunting sometimes.

Never fear – we’ve got you covered. At CenterForLit, we believe that a little coaching in the language of literature can help anyone read and teach the classics of Western Lit. Even without a degree, you’re more than capable of entering the Great Conversation.

We’ve developed a tool to get you started. The best news? It begins at the beginning. We believe children’s literature can lead to some of the richest conversations the tradition has to offer. That’s why our method for learning and teaching literary analysis begins with picture books.

But don’t let the pictures fool you. Even English majors and veteran teachers have found our method helpful for honing their skills in a classroom environment.

Not a teacher? CenterForLit has a place for you, too! We offer resources and community gatherings for readers of all stripes. Our membership society, podcasts, webinars, and other media cultivate a comfortable, fun atmosphere for serious conversations about books among adults. We also host an Online Academy for 5th-12th grade students, where our method helps students join profound literary discussions with their peers.

Careful reading is one of humanity’s most valuable tools. In stories, we confront other minds and discover that we are not alone in our joys and sufferings. Learning to listen carefully to their points of view cultivates compassion. The eternal questions of the Western tradition force us to wrestle with our shared weakness as human beings and to rejoice in our nobility and worth, turning to our fellow creatures for the friendship C.S. Lewis spoke of: “What, you too? I thought I was the only one!”

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Everything we say and do at CenterForLit begins with Teaching the Classics. This DVD seminar, created by our directors Adam and Missy Andrews, shows parents and teachers a simple, accessible method for reading and teaching literature. The Teaching the Classics approach is based on a simple premise: to understand, we must ask questions. We therefore promote oral discussion, as opposed to fill-in-the-blank homework, as the best way to cultivate a love of literature at every level. This approach greatly reduces the demands on the teacher, who need not be an expert, but is free instead to assume the role of fellow learner beside his or her students!

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Are you a teacher or homeschooling parent looking for classroom resources? Are you a reader looking for lively debate about great ideas?

Though originally designed for teachers, Teaching the Classics’s emphasis on thoughtful questioning and discussion has helped folks from all walks of life think clearly about books and culture. As a result, CenterForLit has grown into a community of bibliophiles – teachers and non-teachers alike – and we’re always looking for better ways to get our friends involved in the Great Conversation through print and digital resources.

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These additional resources can help you implement Teaching the Classics in your classroom or homeschool.

  • Reading Roadmaps offers a suggested scope and sequence for grades K-12, with an annotated booklist keyed to the elements of fiction as presented in Teaching the Classics, as well as guides to navigating many other practical concerns of the literature classroom.

  • The Ready Readers series takes specific titles from classic literature and provides a list of questions and answers that might lead to profitable Teaching-the-Classics-style discussions of each work. Each chapter is a separate teacher guide, designed to allow teachers to compare their reading of a story with ours.

  • The Worldview Detective seminar presents a sequel to Teaching the Classics, which trains parents and teachers to uncover an author’s philosophical assumptions. Instead of interrupting the author with our own ideas, we focus on understanding his worldview through a close reading of his story.

  • Our membership program, the Pelican Society, offers a smorgasbord of additional teacher training and classroom resources. These include store discounts, additional teacher guides, audiobooks, a forum for troubleshooting, quick cards, live Office Hours webinars, and Master Classes led by CenterForLit staff – not to mention a host of resources for individual readers! —>

    Looking to buy more than one of the resources described above? Check out our curriculum bundle packages to save on your order.

Once you have the tools to read carefully, the world is your oyster! The rich and rewarding conversations available to you are limitless.

  • Read and respond to articles on The Hovel, CenterForLit’s blog.

  • Check out the CenterForLit Podcast Network, and get involved in the conversation! We have a Facebook page dedicated to continuing BiblioFiles discussions.

  • Listen to CenterForLit lectures and watch videos in our media library.

  • Join the Pelican Society! In addition to providing teaching resources, our membership program hosts a bi-weekly book club for adults, additional training in good reading, audiobooks, seminars, and Master Classes with CenterForLit staff – all centered around enjoying and understanding the Great Books.