Category Archives: Series
I am a reader.
Reading isn’t a hobby or something I do to pass the time. Reading is a lifestyle for me. It always has been. It was probably one of my first identities.
I have two broad goals for my ELA classes: 1) I want my students to become life-long readers and 2) I want them to be able to communicate clearly in writing. In order to try to achieve goal 1, I model what it means to be a reader. I read with them, talk books with them, recommend books to them, take their book recommendations, and talk about my reading life. I think it’s important that kids know that Readers read for a variety of purposes—one of those might be for escape. I read for entertainment, as well, but in my mind escape is different from entertainment. Reading for escape happens when life gets too intense or causes too much stress or anxiety. I use books that I can fall into as my coping mechanism. These escapist reads might have strong setting, strong plot, strong characters or any combination of those three. If I struggle to get into the book in the first 10 pages, it is put aside until my brain is quiet enough to return to it.
This week I’ve dedicated my posts to series – why I’m burned out on them and why my students can’t get enough.
I might need to revise my post from Tuesday, April 24. I’m not burned out on series. I repeat – the series lives!
As a middle school teacher, I reserve the right to change my mind. I’ve changed my mind. Looking for the May Schmidt’s Pick, I grabbed Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl off a pile of books in my office. I had just finished Fear by Michael Grant and wasn’t too keen on starting another series – especially a series that a) hasn’t been finished yet and b) consists of 500+ page books. But I knew this isn’t really about me, it’s about my students and providing them with access to books they’ll actually read so they may actually beat the odds and read more than 1 book after high school. Literacy is important to me. That’s no shock to anyone who knows me, so if I have to “take one for the team” to keep the kids reading, I’ll do it.
Earlier this week I wrote about my love/hate relationship with series. I found myself, once again, stuck in the doldrums of YA series. There was nothing fresh about my reading because all I did was read one book after another that continued a series I had already started. I’m happy to report that I have sailed out of the doldrums, but more about that in a later post.
For now, I want to talk about my students. On Wednesday after we finished round three of state tests, I had the opportunity to just sit and have a conversation with my students. I haven’t had this opportunity in quite some time since I’ve been hosting a student teacher. On Wednesday afternoon, I found myself alone with my seventh graders for the first time in 3 months. Furthermore, they were a bit spent from testing all morning. So when they came into the classroom, I had them sit down, pull out their independent books, and start reading. They read for only a few minutes. I just wanted them to center themselves more than anything. At the end of their reading session, I had them discuss their books with their friends. Pretty standard stuff.
As much as I love young adult fiction, a steady diet of one thing is bad, and so I’ve found myself reading a lot of adult fiction during the late winter and spring. At first I told myself that it was because I had “homework” for Booktopia 2012, which I recently attended in Manchester, VT. Me being me, I did feel compelled to read the latest books by all of the authors in attendance, and I did start some of the back catalogue as well. However, as I look at my nightstand, desk, coffee table, and pretty much any flat surface that holds books in my house, I realize that I’m still grabbing adult fiction. This is not Booktopia’s fault. I recently read Marisa de los Santos’ newest book and A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve – neither author attended Booktopia. So why am I grabbing adult and leaving YA to sit collecting dust?