My students are deeply invested in their city and their school community. We live in Oakland and our city's pride, diversity and strength is reflected in our student body. My students seek out joy- they are hilarious, friendly and deeply committed to seeing the humor in a situation when possible. They love hands on experiences in which they get to collaborate with each other and put their creative ideas in action. They are superb with hands on labs- both in investment and in execution.
Our 10th grade students, full of joy, laughter and ambitious goals, struggle to enjoy reading. They work hard at school so they can make their families proud and achieve their goals, but they are often challenged by simple texts. Many of them read below their grade level, and so understandably, reading is difficult.
We know that a high school students’ literacy level is a key indicator for success in college or in any career trajectory, and that reading for pleasure stimulates empathy, imagination, vocabulary and memory.
But since most of our students do not enjoy reading, they aren’t ever doing it on their own. Two students told me recently they have never read a chapter book from beginning to end.
Our four 10th grade teachers want to create a space where reading is accessible and enjoyable for our students. We are going to hold 4 different book clubs once a week, and students will be able to choose the book that interests them, and as a group, with scaffolding and time, we will find our joy for reading.
We need money to buy our books. We want to offer students 4 different, compelling options that we love and are excited to teach: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Drown by Juno Diaz and Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu.
Students can choose between the story of a young black girl who witnesses police violence, the fantasy story of star crossed magicians, a collection of short stories about the Dominican-American immigrant experience, or a book of Chinese poetry about Taoism and daily meditations.
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