High School Skills: Analyzing Text

| | |
Blog, She Wrote: High School Skills- Analyzing Text

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

Reading classic literature and writing about it seems to be a high school education staple. Our homeschool is no different there, but what are the benefits to having high school skills like analyzing text?

Why Analyzing Text is Important for Your High Schooler

Being able to analyze a text and synthesize thoughts and opinions on it is key to a successful college experience. What skills does this involve?

  • Summarizing text
  • Analyzing the text for meaning
  • Comparing the text to another text similar in nature or not (FYI- contrasting is not listed separately because it is inherent in comparing!)
  • Forming an opinion on the text and being able to succinctly write it
  • Synthesizing new text based on reading others

Whatever your field of study is in college and beyond, chances are you will meet up with assignments to analyze text. How so?

  • Humanities– It’s easy to imagine majors in English, History, Sociology, etc will have to read and do something written with what they read
  • Sciences– As a biology major, I spent a lot of time reading research and writing about it.
  • Graduate School– I’m pretty sure my graduate degree is made up of two things: reading educational research and writing about it and projects. Ok…there was a little matter of a thesis and exam, but trust me. I spent a lot of time marking up research papers and preparing new text based on what I’d read.
  • College Entrance Exams– Yes! Your student will have to write a quick and concise essay on these tests.
  • Blogging– Come to think of it. I use this skill when I blog. Does your student blog? Mine do! And they do an awful lot of reading the work of others and writing about it.

Clearly, being able to write a well organized textual analysis is one of the most important writing skills we can impart to our high schoolers.

Blog, She Wrote: High School Skills- Analyzing Text

Using Books to Communicate with Your Teen

Sharing books together is an excellent way to communicate with your teenagers. High school literature studies allow us to engage in a book together without forcing it because it’s already a requirement. You are in a position to influence the literature choices for your teen. Use this fact to your advantage!

  • Establish a Reading Culture in Your Home– Certainly from early on you’ll want to do this, but you can re-establish it as your students grow older and more mature in their studies.
  • Listen to Story Narrations– Even when you don’t have time to read the book yourself, you can listen to narrations about the story from your student.
  • Talk about Big Ideas– Whether or not you have read the whole book (I know time is crunched for many of us), you can talk about themes that present themselves in books. Reinforce family values and find out where your student is on a topic.
  • Don’t Shy Away from the Hard Books– Reading and discussing a book that questions values is something to face head on in your homeschool. How much better to talk about the morals and values you hold than to meet them in books and talk about them together at a time when your student is exercising independence and beginning to forge their own way.
  • Require a Wide Range of Classics and Modern Books to Expand Their Horizons– Many times a curriculum will take care of this for you, but make sure you add in titles you’d like to approach if they aren’t on the list.

This semester Ethan has been taking a co-op class on the book Dracula. It’s been an amazing class for the teens. They read on their own and meet weekly to discuss the book. A well-read, trusted adult and friend is teaching this class and I know she works with the teens to help them see the overriding themes in this book.

Vampires aren’t often homeschool fare, but the original book by Bram Stoker offers a very different view of vampires than the ones we see today. Dracula is portrayed for his true anti-Christ nature without the glamorization of vampires we see in modern media. The book has been an effective tool in showing just how much the modern vampire has been made to look misunderstood and harmless- when they really represent evil.

Just imagine all the engaging conversation you and your teens could have with a good book to guide the way. And think of all the issues and themes you could address in a significant way before your student leaves home.

Blog, She Wrote: High School Skills- Analyzing Text
Our 10th Grader’s Book List for 2013-2014

We take about a month per book or group of stories and he does research on the author, the history, and other materials that relate to the story he is studying.

  • Short Stories– such as The Necklace, The Ransom of Red Chief, Xingu by Edith Wharton (loved this one!)
  • Around the World in 80 Days– Love this classic by Jules Verne. We even watched the 1956 film version which won best picture that year.
  • Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court– This is one we both enjoyed. Fast read and quite funny.
  • The Great Gatsby– Just as sad I remember…
  • Julius Ceasar– Dover Thrift Edition. When looking for Kindle titles, make sure to look for a good edition.
  • Till We Have Faces– A look at a modern myth and a chance to experience CS Lewis outside of the Chronicles of Narnia
  • Dracula– As part of our 10 session co-op semester

One of the things I’ve done to save me the most time is to use the Kindle editions of many but not all of these books. Using a Kindle saves time and space. Have you considered using a Kindle in your homeschool? Here are 10 Reason to Use a Kindle: Part 1 and Part 2.

How Do I Teach Textual Analysis?

There are many resources available to homeschooling parents. We use Excellence in Literature as the spine of our high school literature courses, but it assumes some level of knowledge when beginning with the program. There are examples, but if you haven’t done this before then it can be hard to help your teen develop a good analysis. Using quotes from the text can be tricky to incorporate well and takes some getting used to.

Fortuigence offers a four week course on Textual Analysis. This is a class that will lead your student through an essay on a book that you choose. You’ll have a personal mentor for your student.The webroom interface is easy to use and if you aren’t sure of how to help your student with this type of essay, this is a resourceful way to outsource the task. One module saves you money over trying a whole course or semester and it allows your student to focus on just one type of essay at his own pace– with the bonus of a mentor.

Navigating the College Selection Process

Analyzing text is a skill necessary when homeschooling for college.

If you are entering that stage,

then you are on your way to college applications.

The eCourse, Homeschooling for College by Design contains many lessons to help families prepare their unique high school experiences for competitive college admission.

Subscribe to download a mini lesson and receive weekly tips on homeschooling for college.

Reading text, comparing various texts, assimilating information and being able to form a solid opinion while logically sharing it is a mainstay of higher education.

Is your high school student ready?

Similar Posts


  1. My favorite quote from this great post is: ” Clearly, being able to write a well organized textual analysis is one of the most important writing skills we can impart to our high schoolers.”

    I totally agree, and doing this kind of analysis helped my daughter when it came to writing the personal college essay.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Eva! And thanks so much for including me as a favorite in this week’s link up! 🙂

    1. Oh I agree! At this point we have two eReaders and four tablets. I wish my 15yo had one so I wouldn’t have to share mine. The other three have their own. We use them all the time- so worth the investment!

  2. I hated Kindles at first and I still LOVE real books. But I cannot hate a device that allows me download so many great classics for free. So the kindle and I have reached an uneasy truce. 😉

    1. haha and uneasy truce! Kyle I love my Kindle. I can’t go back! But not to worry…I just managed to fit 100 new books into our homeschool library!

  3. Love your article on this. This is the exact thing I failed at miserably. 🙁 I can turn it around for my upcoming senior to focus on text analysis. Will read your kindle articles. 😀 Thank you for writing this article and hope you will have more like this one soon. 😀

    1. Holly, I’m glad you found it useful. If you look on my high school help page (in the drop down under “content instruction” in the menu and from a large button on my homepage) you will see similar posts on other types of essays for high schoolers. Good luck!

Comments are closed.