The Well – Educated Mind

The Well-Educated Mind was written by Susan Wise Bauer


Part one of how to read a novel: Grammar Stage Reading

  1. Look at the title, cover, and table contents
  2. Read preface only if written by author, if written by someone else, don’t read it
  3. On a piece of paper or on your notebook, jot down: the title of the book, the author’s name, date of composition at the top page
    1. Underneath the thing that you’ve just jotted down, write down the facts you’ve learned from the back cover and the introduction
  4. Read table of content
  5. Start chapter 1 (do these steps chronologically)
  6. On a separate sheet of paper, write down all the characters from the book because you might get mixed up with their names and the different relationships and what kind of part they are playing (the cousin, friend, sister, enemy, etc.) in the book
  7. For each chapter, note down the main event (these will be used as memory joggers)
  8. Make interesting initial notes
    1. Don’t write long reflections
    2. If you come across an interesting subject or sentence in the book:
      1. Bracket the sentence
      2. Fold down the corner of the page
      3. Write down notes on your notebook/journal/piece of paper
      4. Underline it
      5. Marker it
  9. Write an outline:
    1. Answer two question before doing this:
      1. Who is the main character?
      2. Out of all the chapters, what’s the most important?
      3. Is there a point in the book when the characters change?
      4. Does something drastic happen that twists the story?
      5. Which character more affected?

Part two of how to read a novel: Logic Stage Reading

  1. Reread the novel!
  2. Or, go back to your important notes or the bracketed areas of the book
  3. Analyse writer’s argument (if non-fiction), asking:
    1. What is the writer trying to convince me of?
    2. What are the evidence that the writer provides me with in order for me to side with their idea?
  4. Non-fiction (biographies, philosophy, science, history):
    1. Ask yourself:
      1. Am I persuaded?
  5. Fiction (fantasy, magic, impossible things):
    1. Ask yourself:
      1. Am I transported?
      2. Can I see, feel and hear this other world?
  6. Guide your thinking
  7. Ask yourself if this is a fable or chronicle
  8. Use the Socratic way: question and answer