If you were to ask me to describe my idea of a perfect day my description would in some way involve a trip to a bookstore with a follow-up reading session in a nearby coffee house. My husband and I both possess the gift to linger amongst books in bookstores or libraries for hours at a time. I could spend a bit of that time wandering the aisles which hold the books on religion, home improvement, and healthy living. However, if I could only make one stop during my visit I would have no problem camping out within the rows of Young Adult Fiction.
I have a natural affection for Young Adult literature. I love the creativity that is brought to the plot development of YA fiction. Many of the best authors in this genre write to convey a message relevant in today’s culture. In order to appeal to this generation of readers YA authors usually mask those lessons in creative settings, circumstances, and societies. One of my favorite sub-genres is the dystopian novel. These novels allow the readers to see the roots of corruption and inspire leadership in those who venture to read these books.
My near obsession with YA fiction is key to my passion for English education. One of my aims as a teacher is to develop a love for this genre within my students that mirrors my own. I attempt to accomplish this feat by creating regular assignments that push my students to delve into literature. So many of my ninth graders enter my class without having ever read a book that truly captured their interest. This is a sad fact. Each quarter my students spend a day in the school library where the librarian gives book talks using technology to introduce students to novels. She features books that she has recently read and I usually add my own discussions about books I have read recently as well. The students are expected to pick a novel to read by the end of the quarter.
On a weekly basis I plan for in-class reading time. I intentionally turn off all distractions in the classroom and we spend about fifteen minutes at the beginning of class with our noses in our books. Generally students must follow-up that reading time with writing responses related to their reading or discussing with their classmates about their book.
My goal in creating a classroom that regularly institutes reading is to help students foster a love for reading. I was a child who loved reading from the moment I learned to sound out my first word. I seemed to always have a list of To-Reads. However, when I reached my high school years I began to replace my reading wish list with required classical reads that were assigned by my teachers without choice.There is nothing wrong with reading classics occassionally, but unless that is your cup of tea it can become daunting on the once avid YA fiction reader. It was during these years that my love for reading was stifled. I vowed that once I became a teacher I would make reading for leisure a priority in my classroom and allow my students the freedom to choose reading materials based on their own interests and personalities. Yes, I have certain texts to cover in my class as part of the state curriculum, but I continue to invest valuable classroom time into novel reading with a particular emphasis on YA fiction.
Over the years I have seen reluctant readers become fans of particular authors or genres. There have been students who have shared with me about enjoying their first book ever during my course. I’m always looking for new novels and reading on my own time so that I may help match students with books that may pique a new reading interest. I have built up my own classroom library by visiting library book sales and I buy a couple of books per year for my collection. I spend time at the beginning of each year making my classroom library visually appealing and a focal point in my classroom. This year I decided to sort books according to their genres so that students could more readily access books in the genre that most interests them. Here is a look at my classroom book shelf:
This week my students presented their third quarter reading projects. Their assignment included five different options. They were to create a tangible presentation of their book that would last 3-5 minutes. These were their options:
1. Create a work of art (painting, poster, sculpture, etc…) and explain how it relates to your novel.
2. Write a song, rap, or poem to perform in front of the class that illustrates some of the significant events in your novel.
3. Construct a 3D scene from your novel and explain the relevance of your scene to the novel.
4. Produce a short video re-enacting an important scene from the novel.
5. Bring in a bag filled with 8 objects that relate to your book. During your presentation show and explain how each object relates to your novel.
Overall, I was pleased with the results of the project. So many of the students found extra time during the snow days this quarter to delve into their novels and had informative feedback to share with their classmates. (I may have added some of their novels to my own To-Read list after those most enticing presentations) I am a proud teacher and I am most pleased with the fact the students are taking ownership in their own reading. So…I am going to stop writing about reading and actually pick up a new book. The next book on my list!?!…
I am going to leave you with some of the art projects that my students created for their presentations this week. Happy Reading!
What’s on your To-Read list?