Tag Archives: reading

Student Choice Creates Readers

With a nearby school district wrestling with censorship issues, I thought now would be a good time to share a recent letter from a parent.

 personal library letter

Instead of blanket reading policies, educators and parents should focus on fitting an individual book to an individual reader. We cannot encourage a reluctant reader to read if the book does not appeal to him any more than you can make me like math by forcing me do a worksheet of logarithms.

Sometimes the right book is about ponies and rainbows, and sometimes that book is going to be about drug dealers and f-bombs, as was the case in the book referenced in the letter above. One book does not fit all, no matter how cool the book. So if our goal is to engage kids, we will want to encourage them to buy in. Getting them to choose the book they want to read is an excellent start.

My classroom library is stocked with books I think kids will like. Then I take it one step further and do book talks during the year. I pop a few covers on a PowerPoint and give a 15-second overview of the books. Yep. I turn into a book salesman. And kids scramble for the books when I’m finished.  Then I encourage parents to look at the books their kids choose.

Clearly, all classrooms cannot accomplish all their goals with reading anarchy where every kids reads exclusively whatever they want. There are Common Core goals, and Lexile levels, text complexity, classroom novels, thematic selections and a slew of whatever other things we have to incorporate into our plans on a daily basis.

However, if a goal is to get kids to want to read, we need to create opportunities for them to select things books which interest them.


This Summer’s Ambitious Book Stack

This Summer's Ambitious Book Stack

Summer is officially one day shy of two months this year, but I think I can tackle these. Several are recommendations from friends and students, and the rest I picked up throughout the year.

Feel like checking out reviews of these or past recommendations? Click the photo.

Library of Congress Contest Event

Hey, Delaware area 5th and 6th Graders!

On Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 1 p.m., I’ll be speaking at the Dover Public Library to hype the Library of Congress’ “A Book That Shaped Me” contest. 

Contest details here.

Library of Contest Event info here.



Best Teen Novels

NPR released their “100 Best-Ever Teen Books” list yesterday. 75,000 people voted on the choices. So, if you are looking for your next YA read, check these out.

The result is a good list with a nice mix of classics and newer books. I’ve read quite a few of these, but I have a lot more that I want to. With school gearing up again, I’m adding these to my list of books to read next summer.

Reading Outrage

I normally avoid video cameras, but a teacher at a nearby middle school asked me to read a chapter from Outrage, one of my books, to play for her class.

Don’t pick on my facial hair; it’s for a charity No-shave November thing.

Hanging with Libby Street on New Years Eve

During the presentation/signing yesterday as part of the First Night Dover New Years fiesta, I sat next to Libby Street–(Sarah Bushweller and Emily Morris) authors of The Accidental It Girl.

They’re nice ladies, and I’m amazed that they can write novels together. I’m too territorial of my stories. Anyway, I grabbed a copy of one of their books for my juniors on Monday; it’ll be off my shelf by the end of first period. We also got a chance to discuss the important things in life like the merits of Batman and Superman–since Sarah wrote her senior thesis on Superman.

And for future signing/presentation attendees out there, the bar has been raised. One visitor brought her pet flying squirrel tucked in a pouch inside her jacket.

So now, I expect all future attendees to bring cute rodents hidden about their person.

Tomorrow at 3:00 in Dover, DE. Come by the First Night Dover festival. Bands, artists, and other performers. We’ll have you out in plenty of time to make it to your party…or stay and ring in the new year at the festival.