Back to the Love of Reading Through Sustained Silent Reading
My students need a classroom library with high-interest young adult books they can relate to on a personal level.
Reading is a little bit like extreme health food for the brain and soul. People who read regularly are always hungry for a good book; but, for reluctant and weak readers, academic reading creates bitter resistance. My goal is to change attitudes about reading and create life-long, competent readers.
Many of my ninth grade English students come from "text-poor" homes.
They have never owned a book and have only read to fulfill school assignments. Often, however, grade-level reading is frustrating for them, and they are unable to complete simple reading assignments independently.
Both my students and I live in an extremely rural part of the country where the majority of men make their livings underground in the coal mines. Students of middle class families grow up watching a father or brother provide a respectable quality of life for their families without the benefit of a high school diploma or even the ability to read sometimes.
Often the students I have living in poverty have little ambition to succeed in school because they have never experienced a quality of life beyond poverty. Motivating youths in my area is difficult; but, I still see a lot of potential in them. The trick is to get them to realize their potential and to not waste it.
Last year, for an independent reading project, I had students order books through a public library loan because our public and school libraries don't have a good selection of young adult books. Many students didn't have a ride to the public library, and several of the library-to-library loans took nearly 4-5 weeks to arrive.
Many of the books I have requested in this grant were read and loved by my 2011-12 students. One girl read "Artichoke's Heart," no small task, in four days and said it may be the best book she's ever read. Even some of my most reluctant readers enjoyed their books thoroughly.
This year, my students will use these high-interest books for daily "silent sustained reading." Each day students come to class, get their self-selected books, and spend the first 10-minutes of each class reading for pleasure. Students will complete daily reading logs, respond in their journals, and complete a small project such as a brochure for one of the books they read each quarter.
I spent a significant amount of time researching these books.
Most of the titles are recommended by James Blasingame in his book for educators entitled "Books That Don't Bore 'Em." Others I found on websites representing prestigious literary awards such as the Newbury and National Book Awards. Additionally, I have chosen a few books below ninth grade reading level such as "Where the Red Fern Grows." These books will provide struggling readers reasonable opportunities to experience success.
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