Keesha's House, written in verse, is a gritty novel for teens with all the important features of books for reluctant older readers: teenage characters who seem real, conflicts with which students can relate, and short, powerful chapters which keep kids engaged. It's a great read for anyone!
I teach Language Arts to urban middle school students in grades 6 through 8.
Most of my students are English Language Learners. My students begin the year reading years below grade level. We read and write every day in our classroom, exploring new genres, topics, and themes. Class discussions are lively and fun, and are a way to share insights from students including new readers, reluctant readers, and just-below grade level avid readers.
My students have recently been exploring poetry. We've used song lyrics to learn about sound play and figurative language, and we've written short snippets of fast poetry in pairs in a competitive fast-paced game. Poetry is hot in our classroom, and my students are ready for more!
Keesha's House is a great book which can be read in two ways. On first reading, it is a gripping tale of six teenagers whose lives intersect, told through alternating voices written in verse. A closer look reveals that the story is told using two traditional poetic forms: the sestina and the sonnet.
This book is an excellent choice for reluctant teen readers. It can be used in much the same way as "Love That Dog" can for elementary school readers: it provides a solid introduction to some traditional poetic forms wrapped up in a story so engaging that students hardly notice what they are learning. Keesha's House is written at a high elementary readability level, so it will be accessible for my students, but the sophisticated themes and conflicts are appropriate and engaging for teenage readers. I can't wait to share this book with my students!
Keesha's House is a rare find for reluctant older readers!
My students will develop an appreciation of traditional poetic forms through the voices of six very real teenage characters. This book will become, for many students, a cornerstone text; it will be one of those books which they will fondly remember for years to come.
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