My students attend a college-preparatory middle school located in Franklinton, one of the most low-income neighborhoods in Columbus. Nearly 100% of our students are economically disadvantaged and arrive at an average of 2.5 grade levels behind. However, high expectations for scholarship and behavior and an achievement-oriented school culture ensure all students are equipped to enter, succeed in, and graduate from the most demanding high schools and colleges.
During the day, my students are often given the opportunity to "assign themselves." This means that they take out a book and read silently.
Each of our homeroom classes has a dedicated bookshelf for students to access any time during the day. However, over the years, these bookshelves have become emptier and emptier. Not only do I want my students to go on and attend high performing high schools, but I also want them to develop a love of reading. Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are. Help me give my students the chance to escape through a book.
I believe -- and studies show! -- that daily, high-interest reading is a critical component to overcoming the significant word gap that many children living in poverty experience. I have the privilege of teaching over 90 students in Columbus, Ohio. Many of them live in houses with very few books available, and their local libraries may be too far away. Therefore, they rely on us, their teachers, for access to high quality literature. These books get used over and over again as students fall in love with them. It is not uncommon for me to tape a book like Harry Potter together for a student, but they never complain. They are simply thankful to have a book to escape to.
I have chosen an array of books to meet the diverse needs of my students.
The books that I have added to my list range from anime graphic novels to non-fiction books about living through a war. I asked each homeroom which books they wanted to have, and they gave me titles of books that I had never heard of and also familiar titles that I had once fallen in love with. I picked a number of series because I remember what it was like to get excited about reading the next book in a series. I want kids to look forward to reading a new book. I chose books of various reading levels to help my kids who struggle with reading find something that isn't stressful for them but rather enjoyable. There is a book for everyone.
With your assistance, I can continue to help my students fall in love with reading as so many of us have. One great book has the power to change someone's life.
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