My students need stories that deeply connect with them in such a way that it challenges and changes their thinking, and novels such as The Fault in Our Stars and Anthem will encourage this critical thinking.
My English I On-Level and Pre-AP students will have a year full of reading, questioning the text, debate, and discussion. Reading, writing, and speaking are the foundation in any subject, and my students quickly learn that this is the expectation in my classroom.
My quite diverse students come from less-than-functional homes, and daily they enter my classroom carrying pounds of angst, pain, and worry; they are more focused on finding something, anything, to eat, on wanting to sleep from staying up all night because they had to take care of younger siblings, and on seeking quiet in a world of chaos; reading itself is inevitably pushed to the back burner, and finding joy in reading is an unknown concept to them.
My students desperately need to find a place where they are safe and loved and to find adults who will guide them in the direction of success. My incoming freshman will find this in my classroom. My next step is to show them books that not only reflect their own stories of struggle and pain, but also challenge them into authentic writing and academic discussion.
My students hardly--if ever--read outside of class. Reading on their own, reading for fun, is a completely foreign idea to them. Many of them do not have the resources to read on their own.
Each day that passes are missed opportunities for my students to feel the pain and joy a character like them feels, to find someone that goes through what they are currently going through, and to know what it feels like to finish a book that they chose to begin on their own.
It is these missed opportunities that has turned my students into self-proclaimed "non-readers".
I want my students to experience all of these emotions and the deep questioning and thinking that occurs when reading a relevant story. I know that I can change their current mindset with the right type of books. I plan to finish the year with a choice reading unit, so that my students can reignite their love (or, for some, tolerance of) for reading and become life-long readers.
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