How to Pick Textbooks for a Literature Course

Given the wide array of literature that is available, picking text books for a literature course, be it for high school or college, can be a challenging task. There will be certain requirements for any course you are assigned to teach, as well as a course outline, which will specify the themes and topics you will be required to cover with the students.

It is for the purpose of teaching these topics and themes that you will need to pick textbooks. While it might seem complicated, keep in mind that you just need books to fit the curriculum, your own teaching style and methods, and the needs of your students – on this basis, follow a simple plan, and compile a syllabus.


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    When picking textbooks for a literature course, it is essential to check the institution’s guidelines regarding the teaching of that particular course. The course outline will generally include the subjects and topics you will be required to teach the students, so pick the books in close accordance with this, and keep consulting it.

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    Most schools and colleges will require an instructor to compile and submit a lesson plan which will then be reviewed by higher authorities for approval, so try and get yours approved on the first go by adhering to institutional guidelines for creating a course book list, and make sure you fulfil all the mandatory requirements.

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    Keep in mind that “textbooks” does not just refer to the literary works your class will be covering – you will need to include additional and supplementary critical materials and texts in your book list. For example, if you are picking textbooks for a course on post-colonial literature, alongside novels by writers like JM Coetzee and Arundhati Roy, you might also supplement the course by including analytical books on post-colonial literature as a whole, like “The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literature”, by Bill Ashcroft et al.

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    While picking out textbooks, do not just keep in mind the college guidelines and the curriculum you have devised – instead, you must also make sure the books you select complement your teaching style and methods, are of a suitable level in accordance to the difficulty level of the course, and are useful in your goals regarding what you want the students to learn. Also take into account how much the materials involved will cost, the depth of knowledge that the students are required to acquire, and the fact that the books need to be interesting for the students.

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    Consulting the school or college librarian is also an option when selecting texts for a literature course. The librarian will be familiar with the school’s collection, and can aid you in fashioning a course and determining which materials are easily available.

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