I teach English at an innovative early college high school that is one of the best in the area, where students take high school classes concurrently with classes at the local community college. My students are 60% economically disadvantaged and 88.8% minority. But that is not their total story. Even with the obstacles they face, our school is service-driven, with students out in our community every weekend doing volunteer projects. They are bright, motivated, and ready to take on the world. However, our school has one major flaw: we have no library.
My students are hungry for novels that reflect their own life experiences.
Last year I started compiling a classroom library filled with literature that appeals to my students. We managed to gather about 450 titles throughout the year. I have become the de-facto library on our campus, and more students are carrying around novels than ever before. My students read a novel of choice for the first 10 minutes of every single class. In fact, I set up a computerized library inventory on 3/4/19, and from that date until today, 2/7/20, I've had over 550 books checked out and read. But now we have even bigger plans!
My students are readers, but without a library on our campus, they have nowhere to obtain the books that are relevant to their interests and lives. These books will help them grow as readers, validate their experiences in the world, and step outside their own experiences to see the perspectives from other races, cultures, gender identities, and sexual orientations.
My students are finding relevant, important literature that makes them want to read.
One senior this year told me that he hasn't finished a book since 7th grade, and he's currently reading his seventh book of the year. I have so many of my students who have forgotten the simple pleasure of losing themselves (and finding themselves!) in books, and watching them reignite that passion has been the highlight of my 16-year teaching career.
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