Sunday, October 19, 2014

"I Am Now a Reader": At 18 a Reader is Born #SundaySeries #SummerReading #BookTalkaDay

Knowing today is the final week of Lee Ann Spillane's #SundaySeries on #SummerReading, I began planning this entry a couple of weeks ago after reading comments from students on the rights of readers in their writing notebooks. 

From the moment I greet my seniors, I know getting them to read will be a challenge. It's a nine month gestation that my district allots six months to develop. We're on trimesters, and the only students who take English all year are AP lang and comp and AP lit students. Indeed, many seniors only take English one trimester. 

Since September I've been thinking about how to keep students reading from late November until I see them in late February. Some of my current students will have a different teacher next trimester, so I only have three months with them. Others won't return to me until third trimester because I don't teach the last half of the class until then. 

If this all sounds messed up. It is. 

About those Rights of the Reader entries in the writing notebooks: 

I asked students to write about the right of readers they most value after we talked about Daniel Pennac's The Rights of the Reader poster. 

Among my favorite student responses: 

"But sometimes adults try to take away some of the books we love and by doing that they take away some of our happiness as well." --Dillon

Adults as book thieves? Yes. This is what censors and those who try to ban books from classrooms and school libraries do: They steal happiness from children. 

"Sometimes I think to myself, someone out there is living this book. And it gets me thinking about things like that." --Amanda

As does Amanda, we have the right to mistake a book as real. Imaginative literature often speaks the truth in ways informational texts can only dream of doing. For Amanda, and the other seven Native American students in her class, a novel may be the only window into their own stories these students experience in a day. What better reason to let a student read than to get them thinking? 

Other students wrote about rediscovering a love of reading after losing it by being forced to read only assigned books. 

My favorite response came from Braedon. 



"The most important thing to me as a reader is that I connect with the book, that I connect with the story. In the past it has been very hard for me to read books because they were always being forced on me and I did not connect with them...To be able to choose our own books with our own interests and thoughts in mind has made me excited to read. I never thought myself a reader until Mrs. Funk showed me that I can enjoy reading. I have the right to mistake a book for real life. . . .When I read Divergent, I didn't want it to end. I wanted it to be real. It felt real. I connected with it. . . I am now a reader." --Braedon

As Lee Ann envisioned this series, teachers would reflect on summer reading with which they task students. I'm thinking about the summer reading students choose on their own. This thinking can't begin in late May or early June. A fetus needs nine months gestation before entering the world. Raising readers requires nurturing throughout the year, throughout a child's schooling. 

As I bid my students farewell in May, the graduation gift I hope to impart is that they'll see themselves as readers and that they'll see books as windows into the world. 

#BookTalkaDay: 

Yikes, I only presented three book talks this week. Wednesday we administered the PSAT to all sophomores in our school. The seniors attended a "Major and Minor Fair" at Idaho State University. We had an assembly Friday. I misread the times and chose to skip the #BookTalkaDay Thursday. That was a mistake. 



This week's book talks:

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
Why I Fight by J. Adams Oaks

*All three books are part of the generous gift Brian Beech, my former student, recently sent to my students and to me. Brian gave us 50 books!