Friday, June 20, 2014

Reading Goals Revisited

Last week I wrote about the simplest and so far most effective summer reading program I’ve ever implemented: simply giving students some time and tools and asking them to make a list of 5 books they might be interested in reading over the summer. 

There’s one thing I’ll do differently next year: Ask students to give one sentence explaining why they are interested in the book. I didn’t think of that until the last week before the due date, when I thought of putting the list on the class Moodle for discussion. I gave this as an option when I thought of it, but I didn’t want to up the requirements at the last minute. For many of the choices, I could guess at the reasons, but I found explanations of the handful of students who rose to my request really delightful.

The student who gets a plenty of family support, but still picks up ideas in class:
  1. American Born Chinese by Gene Yang (Comic book style grabbed my attention)
  2. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards (In class I read the back of the book and it really intrigued me)
  3. Room by Emma Donoghue (My older sister read it and requested it to me)
  4. Insurgent by Veronica Roth (I read Divergent so I want to know what happens next)
  5. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay (My parents said that it was a really good book and requested it)

The student who mostly reads the blurb and wants to know what happens, but also takes recommendations from friends and pursues patterns in her reading:
  1. Can't Get There From Here by Todd Strasser. This book is about a homeless girl's life. Just wanted to see how her life will change.
  2. Wonder by R.R. Palacio. This book is about a boy with a facial deformity. He is just a 5th grade and I want to read how he overcomes the abuse from his friend at school.  
  3. I Will Plant You a Lilic Tree, a memoir of a Schindler's list survivor by Lura Hillman. This book is about a concentration camp. I read two books about concentration camp, and they both taught me a great lesson. I wanted to read a book about concentration camp again, and I am sure that there are lot more to learn from this book.
  4. Loud Awake and Lost by Adele Griffin. Recommended from Becky, its about a girl who lost her memory from car accident.  
  5. A Swift Pure Cry by Siobhan Dowd. A girl's mom dies, and her dad turned his back away from reality. So she had to take care of her brothers by herself. I want to see how she will bear these struggles and move forward.  

The student with eclectic reading interests and purposes:
  1. Offworld - Robin Parrish (I'd like to read this book because it's about five astronauts landed on Mars and came back safely on Earth, but every single person mysteriously disappeared, and I thought this plot was interesting.)
  2. 1984 - George Orwell (After reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, I thought the number '1984' has something deep and also, everyone says this book is good, so I want to read it.)
  3. The Shack - William P. Young (Similarly with Offworld, I read the book cover and got interested in it.)
  4. The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins (The main reason why I chose this book was because everyone talks about this book, while I am oblivious to anything associated with the book The Hunger Games. That's why I'm trying to read it, and I know it will be worth it.)
  5. Sophie's World - Jostein Gaarder (This book is a philosophy book, and I thought this would help me learn about philosophies more because I totally haven't read any philosophy books.)

One commonality that struck me is the significance of a reading community. All of these students mentioned an influence from other people in at least one of their choices. 

Nurturing that community, as soon as I heard from the school librarian last week Friday that a book I had requested had arrived, I sent an all-class email to the newly minted 11th graders. 

Dear juniors,

For those of you who are interested in Haruki Murakami (author of After Dark) or in running--Murakami competes in marathons and triathlons. He's also written a short personal reflection on life, running, and writing: What I Talk about When I Talk about Running. (Check the Amazon link for reviews.) The library has just shelved it (H 895.6 MUR), and the library is open on Monday!

Happy summer reading,

Mrs. E

Cause and effect is a tricky thing to be sure of, but I checked the library’s online catalogue on Tuesday, and the book is out!

Report on my summer reading goals: Currently reading Book Love by Penny Kittle (in the middle of chapter 3 I had to stop and email my principal and English department colleague to recommend that she order it and read it, too) and Divergent by Veronica Roth. (Take-away #1: The least I can do is make sure that the generation of young people who are now familiar with the terms abnegation, dauntless, erudite, amity, and candor--the 5 classes of people in this book--know that these terms are actually real English words!)

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