Our students need a classroom library of 89 middle-school level fiction and non-fiction books to reach our goal of reading 3500 books collectively.
"When I look back, I am so impressed again
with the life-giving power of literature.
If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young."
I teach middle school English/Language Arts in a rural, high-need community in North Carolina. The school I teach at is located in the heart of the Achievement Gap - a term that describes students from low-income communities who consistently have been performing significantly lower on standardized state tests than their neighbors in wealthier communities. An essential tool in overcoming this "gap" is developing their basic reading skills and pushing them to grow more than the standard one academic year in each grade. Only through continuous practice and motivation will these students have the opportunities for success that they deserve.
When I started teaching middle school, I thought the largest obstacle I would have to overcome was attitude. Although it has proven to be an issue, I never realized how much my students would come to impress me every single day. I introduced a challenge to them in the beginning of the year: You, as a class, will read 500 books by the end of the year. Instead of groaning or complaining about how impossible that would be, they willingly and excitedly stepped up to the plate. They were motivated beyond my belief. Immediately they asked to go to the library so they could begin reading that day. When I took them to our school library, I was shocked. It seemed as if they had a wide selection to choose from but upon closer inspection, I saw that our books were torn-up, outdated, and nowhere near rigorous enough for these motivated students. The only books they seemed remotely interested in were at least two grade levels too low and thus, didn't qualify for my challenge (where the books they read must be at least 180 pages and on their grade level). They stared at me blankly, wondering how they could possibly meet their goal when they didn't have the resources to even begin.
My students need - and deserve - the opportunity to push themselves as readers. A classroom library full of up-to-date, interesting, relevant, and rigorous books will give them the chance to expand their knowledge, practice their reading and thinking skills, and feel excited and inspired about reading - all of which would provide them with the opportunities they need to succeed at their age.
Your support for our library will make it possible for my students to push themselves further than they've ever been pushed. Your help will ensure that my students reach an ambitious goal and in doing so, change the course of their academic (and personal) lives.
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