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Instructional Resources

Series Info

Episodes: 9

Length: 60 min.

Grade Levels:
Professional Development

Language Arts and Literature

Teacher's Guide
Video on Demand


In Search of the Novel

Discover creative strategies for bringing novels to life for middle and high school students with this workshop, featuring the words and works of 10 novelists, including Charles Dickens, Mary Shelley, J. K. Rowling, and Toni Morrison. Within the framework of real classroom practice, the workshop offers interviews with contemporary authors, literary critics, teachers, and students, as well as film clips from adaptations of the novels featured. In Search of the Novel poses basic questions that can help you examine the genre from multiple perspectives and bring it to life for your students.

Episode Guide

1. Workshop 1. Who Owns the Novel? This workshop probes the living nature of the novel by illustrating how each reader makes a novel his or her own. It shows how the interpretation of a novel can change, depending on the reader’s culture, class, generation, gender, and personality.

2. Workshop 2. What’s the Story? This workshop explores how an author spins a story and why it is the most important aspect of the novel. In the program, participants examine the importance of the hook, and the “why” behind the events. They also consider various ways into difficult novels.

3. Workshop 3. Are Novels Real? Must a novel’s setting and characters — and the characters’ motivations and stories — bear some likeness to reality? This program explores how novels connect with readers. Teachers, students, and novelists probe the origins of stories.

4. Workshop 4. Where Do Novels Come From? This program explores the genesis of characters, plot, themes, and interpretation from the novelist’s point of view. Participants examine the relationship between the novel and the objective reality from which it may spring.

5. Workshop 5. Why Do I Have To Read This Book? The workshop’s 10 novels are examined to see why they appear on recommended reading lists and why they have earned numerous awards. The program looks at the essential elements of good writing and storytelling and explores positive reasons for reading. It also examines ways in which novels are challenged by students and communities.

6. Workshop 6. What’s in It for Me? A novel can transport readers to other places and times, real or imaginary, allowing the readers to meet people and experience life in many different ways. In this program, teachers explore ways to help students respond to novels on deeply personal levels.

7. Workshop 7. Who Am I in This Story? A reader can take on a number of roles in a novel: the protagonist, the narrator, the author, or another character. In this program, students and novelists examine the complex ways readers may identify with characters in a novel.

8. Workshop 8. Am I Getting Through? In this summary, teachers examine their effectiveness in helping students comprehend and appreciate novels and become lifelong readers. Teachers also discuss and demonstrate strategies for evaluation.

9. 9 and 10. Authors’ Notes In this supplement to In Search of the Novel, contemporary authors — including Orson Scott Card, Horton Foote, Ernest Gaines, Arthur Golden, Daniel Keyes, Katherine Paterson, J. K. Rowling, and Leslie Marmon Silko — reveal even more of their own writing process. Guided by thematic questions, they discuss everything from how they first conceived their novels to what it’s like to be a writer — and how they imagine teachers should teach their works.

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