Young Adult Literature

Week 4: It Doesn’t Matter That You Don’t Like The Book

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.

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7 thoughts on “Week 4: It Doesn’t Matter That You Don’t Like The Book

  1. I totally empathize wth your feelings about books we were pushed into reading during secondary and high schools – I, too, HATED To Kill A Mockingbird, while the majority of my peers found it to be the only book they actually enjoyed reading! Personally, I think the worst part of the whole experience was the way the books were pitched to me. Honestly, there was very little enthusiasm from the majority of my English teachers when it came to presenting the books we were to read – most of the time, it boiled down to “here is a book that I am required to teach you, it’s not my favorite either but let’s just try to make the best of it.” Hopefully, I will be a better teacher in that sense than a lot of mine were, because I was never really given a lot of choice in the matter!

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  2. Hey Jamie!
    I love your post. I really liked your comment about why we create a stiff hierarchy of literature. I never considered that this was due to standardized test. But now that I think about it, you are probably right. Most standardized test have these strict boring text, and the AP tests may even mention a novel like To Kill a Mockingbird. So teachers may think that the best way to prepare the students for these strict tests is to teach them these books. I think that this just puts more work on us as teachers to make sure that no matter how “silly” the books we teach are, we are teaching them enough to where they can learn just as much, if not more, of what books like To Kill a Mockingbird can teach.

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  3. Jamie! I always love reading your posts!
    I think that your book pitching idea is very smart. I believe that, when kids are given options, they feel that their opinion is important. Choice is so important for students! They respond very well and are more likely to actually read the book that they choose. I believe that if you implement these in your classroom, your students will be lucky to have you as their teacher. Your experiences with struggling through books is vital to your ability to reach students well.

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  4. Hey!

    I love that you chose to provide a well thought-out solution to this problem. I know that I myself, am constantly fearful of squashing the love of reading in my future students. I want to maintain or bring back that magical feeling of being a young reader who stays up way past their bedtime with a flashlight under the covers so mom won’t know. I miss those days myself and firmly believe that it is possible to have that feeling as an adult. I really like the idea of pitching books, I think it’s important that students understand the reasoning behind our choices in books for them so they see their true value. Great post!

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  5. Hey Jamie,

    I loved what you had to say in this post. Unlike you, I absolutely loved To Kill and Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby, but I completely understand your reasoning. I never liked Lord of the Flies and felt like it was forced on us. I always felt like a lot of the classics were forced on us and we missed out on a lot of modern books that deal with issues that are going on now. Not that I’m against the classics because that would be crazy, but I think there needs to be a good balance in the classroom. You can’t expect students to want to read and enjoy something that was written decades before they were born. I loved that you provided a simple solution for a seemingly huge problem. The idea of pitching a book list is such a great idea, and it’s something I didn’t even think about until now.

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  6. Jamie,
    I love your thoughts here! I appreciate your insights on doing a “book pitch.” Giving students the freedom to pick a book after you have simply recommended gives them a lot of power and control over their education, which is so important. I often hear leaders in education discussing how students just need to “take charge of their education,” but this is hard to do when books are being shoved at you and pre-conceived ideas are being presented. To let a student have the leadership to read a book of their choice and tell their peers about it is a simple step toward letting them take charge of their education. Great post!

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