Current deep learning based text classification methods are limited by their ability to achieve fast learning and generalization when the data is scarce. We address this problem by integrating a meta-learning procedure that uses the knowledge learned across many tasks as an inductive bias towards better natural language understanding. Inspired by the Model-Agnostic Meta-Learning framework (MAML), we introduce the Attentive Task-Agnostic Meta-Learning (ATAML) algorithm for text classification. The proposed ATAML is designed to encourage task-agnostic representation learning by way of task-agnostic parameterization and facilitate task-specific adaptation via attention mechanisms. We provide evidence to show that the attention mechanism in ATAML has a synergistic effect on learning performance. Our experimental results reveal that, for few-shot text classification tasks, gradient-based meta-learning approaches ourperform popular transfer learning methods. In comparisons with models trained from random initialization, pretrained models and meta trained MAML, our proposed ATAML method generalizes better on single-label and multi-label classification tasks in miniRCV1 and miniReuters-21578 datasets.