Students in rural North Carolina recognize that they are at a disadvantage: teachers rarely stay longer than a couple of years, their books are old and regularly there are not enough of them for each student to have their own. In my tenth grade English class, however, we actively strive to overcome those disadvantages by working extremely hard and infusing passion into everything that we do.
Imagine being in the tenth grade, but reading on a sixth grade level. This is just the situation that my students face. One major factor in this crisis is the lack of engaging reading resources. With the age of super-high tech games and the inundation of film and other media, reading, especially the usual fare, tends to take a major backseat in most of my student's minds. The only time they are really exposed to reading is through their English classes in school; however, the books of the "canon" are so disconnected from their lives that they quickly tune out and write it off as another "boring book." Because of this disengagement, they have developed the idea that reading is not important at all.
However, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, tells the story of a young girl struggling through her first year in high school, dealing with bullies, new surroundings, and a horrible secret. Students across the nation are reading this book with outstanding results: students are reading, analyzing, and ENJOYING it! Moreover, while this book is highly engaging, it is written such that it could be analyzed on the college level. Its stylistic qualities and many of the themes that are apparent in this novel are some that they will see again and again in any college English class, but in a form with which they can intimately connect. Indeed, reading this book could very well be the catalyst that launches students into a world of understanding and enjoying reading, preparing them for college and life beyond.
Your generous donation will help my students to realize the importance of reading, and help to develop a sense of appreciation and enjoyment in reading. Since they will have had the experience of reading and analyzing a book that is very much on their level and interesting to them, they will later be better prepared to use the same skills on a less "interesting" text. Because of you, my students will be better prepared for the eleventh grade, college, and simply life as a productive citizen.
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