If you ask a dozen teachers the best way to teach their favorite book, you're likely to get at least two dozen answers. That's what makes literature magical—the books that we teach in our classrooms have so much depth to them that every time we approach them, we can explore a new angle and learn more.

To help inspire you to take a look at the books you're teaching in a new light, we've compiled nine of our favorite ways to approach a book.

1. Reading for Plot and Comprehension

This might not be the most exciting approach to reading, but comprehension is the first step toward any deeper understanding. When you approach any book as a class, it's always worth making sure that students are at least able to identify what happened in any passage before exploring the text at a deeper level. You'd be surprised at how many "Aha! moments" will happen for your students after spending just a few minutes discussing basic plot events.

For classes that are struggling with comprehension, reading in class, either aloud as a group or silently with an audio recording, can be very helpful.

Resources for helping students understand plot: Teaching Units, Shakespeare Side by Sides, LitPlan Teacher Packs

2. Reading for Theme

While comprehension is a necessary first step, looking deeper, at the intent, purpose, or meaning of the book is also essential. One of the best places to start is the theme, or the central topic that a text covers. Every book that has one—not all do—develops its theme differently, so organizing your curriculum around books with similar themes can be a great way to tie it together. Try looking at the different treatments of the American Dream in A Raisin in the Sun and The Great Gatsby or examining coming-of-age themes in The Glass Castle and To Kill a Mockingbird.

Resources to help with reading for theme: Teaching Units

3. Reading for Author's Craft

One of the most rewarding ways to explore a book is through a close reading of the text to examine not only what the story means, but also how the author communicates that meaning. Is the novel exciting? What makes it exciting? Why do we laugh where we do? How does the author manage to make us like the main character even though he or she has some serious flaws? A close reading is a deep investigation of the patterns in a book and of the techniques the author uses, from word choice and syntax to rhetorical devices and symbolism.

A great way to get started with this type of reading is to break down a poem, which is usually more densely packed than a novel, or take a look at a couple of key passages from a longer work. It takes more time to really dig into a book this way, but the rewards can be remarkable.

Resources for approaching author's craft: AP Literature Teaching Units, Rhetorical Devices in Shakespeare

4. Approaching Literary Theories

While it's common to think of literary theories as the realm of college or graduate students, you'd be surprised how powerful a lesson based on literary theory can be for students in 9th or 10th grade or reluctant readers who tend to tune out during more traditional studies of literature. Looking at a story from a feminist or archetypal angle or focusing on social class struggles within the text can make books come to life for many students.

Resources for teaching literary theory: Multiple Critical Perspectives Guides

5. Using Bloom's Taxonomy

Benjamin Bloom, an educational theorist, developed models for understanding the ways that students learn. By using these models, you can help classes progress from a rudimentary understanding of the basic language being used all the way up to synthesizing multiple sources and developing their own original analysis of the text. If you're looking for ways to tie together a variety of approaches in a way that support different learning objectives, Bloom's model will help.

Resources to help with using Bloom's Taxonomy: Levels of Understanding Guides

6. Response Journaling

Writing about literature doesn't always have to be a formal process in which the goal is the typical five-paragraph essay. With response journaling, students are encouraged to write about what they're reading and draw personal connections to their own lives. Whether they're describing how the book makes them feel, conveying how they'd react in a similar situation or recreating events from their own lives that are similar to those in a book, journaling can help. Journaling also encourages regular writing practice, helps students build personal connections to literature, and gives classes fun writing practice on a regular basis.

Resources to help with response journaling: Response Journals

7. Reading for Vocabulary

Sure, a strong vocabulary can help reading comprehension, but active reading is also essential to building vocabulary. By using the books you're teaching in class as a source of vocabulary words, you can give your classes relevant words in authentic contexts and teach your students to use context clues to figure out the meanings on their own.

Resources for using literature to build vocabulary: Vocabulary from Literature, Teaching Units

8. Working with Groups

Reading often feels like a solitary activity, so getting students working together on projects—whether it's completing a graphic organizer, putting together a skit, or developing a poster—when students talk amongst themselves about what they're reading, they'll learn about other people's opinions on the books and help each other get the most out of what's being read.

Resources for working with groups: Activity Packs

9. Reading for Fun

Never forget that every author who has ever put pen to paper did so for his or her book to be enjoyed. Sometimes it's worth just asking your students to curl up on the couch with a cup of cocoa and read a great story.

None of these methods are mutually exclusive, and the best teachers tend to use more than one through the course of a particular unit or throughout the year.

What methods of literature instruction work best in your classroom? Do you have a favorite that we missed? Leave us a comment below and share your favorite approaches to teaching literature.