It Doesn’t Matter That You Don’t Like The Book for Literacy for Big Kids really hit home for me today as I read through all of the points presented in this article. As a student who hopes to one day teach a high school class, it is so easy to create a stiff hierarchy of literature that is accepted in the classroom. Partially, I think this is due to the standardized testing presented to students because the books on the A.P. recommended list are a higher priority in our minds than the book our students would choose for themselves, so the trick is to find a balance.
From my own experience as a student, I remember HATING To Kill A Mockingbird and STRUGGLING through The Great Gatsby… wait a minute… these are two American classics… what?!? How did I get to that point? How am I now pursuing a career in education? Well, part of it was immaturity & stubbornness, but another part of it was feeling as if a book was forced on me, and that my ideas regarding the book did not matter because the lesson plan was the only thing that mattered. In later years, I learned, of course, that teacher’s have schedules & lesson plans, and I, as a middle schooler, would have strung that book along all year if they would have let me. Eventually, I also saw the great value in these two terrific novels, but it makes me stop and think as a potential teacher how I could have changed this experience for the young me from a teacher perspective.
The idea of “pitching” a book list to students keeps coming to mind as a great solution to this idea. As a teacher, you do know that your book list has great options for these kids, but how do you get them to think it was all their idea? Well… I think book pitches are a good place to start. I think the book pitch may be something I could incorporate into my own classroom one day rather than implementing it into my mentor teacher’s classroom because I know she will already have her content schedule planned out for the year. Choose a variety of books that could work for your class, pass around book posters that get the students excited, maybe show a trailer for the book (or a movie if there is one), and give the students an opportunity to get excited about a book on their own! I have found that this summer, I have enjoyed this reading list more than any other class I have taken in college because the aspect of choice makes me excited to make my selection, commit to it, and let the story unfold.