Shortcut: Reading Literature


Reading literature is different from reading factual texts. These two types of texts have different purposes. Factual texts contain information. Literature is about experiences and emotions. You get to witness something you may never see or do in real life.

reading literature

 

Plot, theme and message

The events that happen to the main character are the plot.

The issues the character faces are the theme, or the big questions the main character has to deal with. The theme is not only about the characters in the story. Often the issue is important to all people.

There will also often be an underlying message, what the author is saying about the theme.

 

Different styles

Most often, a factual text does no give the writer’s personal opinion. It gives information without much emotion. A factual text can be formal, so it sounds written not spoken.

A literary text, on the other hand, often uses personal language to express the characters’ emotions. The language can be rather informal, and can sound like everyday speech. A literary text also has descriptions that show what the characters feel, see, taste or smell. They also describe the setting: where and when the story takes place. Finally, a literary text uses dialogue between the characters. Dialogue can show the personality of characters by the way they talk.

 

Point of view

Unlike most factual texts, literary texts have a “voice” that tells the story. This storyteller “voice” is called the narrator. Sometimes the narrator is the main character, who uses the word “I” in the story. In this case, we say the story has a first person point of view.

Other times the story is told by a voice outside the story. This third person narrator uses the pronouns “he” and “she” about the characters. The third person point of view lets the reader know things the main character does not know, for example what other characters are thinking.

 

SHORTCUT QUESTIONS

  1. What is the plot of a story?
  2. What is theme?
  3. Is it factual or literary texts that uses personal language?
  4. What is the difference between first-person narrators and third-person narrators?