This year I teach four periods of English 11 students and one period of bilingual students who are attempting to pass their English Language Test (ELPAC). Knowing that choice matters in encouraging students to read, I give my students time in class to read materials of their own choice. Many students at our school qualify for free and reduced lunch and lack the funds to purchase their own reading material. Often the books that they want to read and are hearing about from peers via social media are checked out from the local school and neighborhood libraries, or simply not carried by those places. I lose a lot of books every year, but I view that as an investment in future readers as maybe another family member will pick it up and enjoy.
My students are vibrant, funny, engaged, and curious, but lack the means and abilities to purchase the books that speak to them.
I would love to be able to expand their minds and hearts by providing them with diverse books that both represent and are completely opposite from their own lives.
In reading "Speak", my students who have been subjected to abuse will find peace; in reading "Across the Wire," my immigrant students will see their own struggles mirrored; and in "The Crossover," my students will see their life/school balance struggles portrayed.
I want my students to have many varied choices in reading; these choices should both reflect the realities of their own lives and encourage them to build empathy for those living in completely different worlds.
I have had about 10 students ask me for "The Hate U Give" in the last week alone. We have to nurture their interest!
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