By the time my sophomores leave me, I want them to know the power of a book and of reading. The majority of my students do not have positive associations with texts nor have they had the experience of wanting to stop time to finish the perfect book. They deserve these moments; I want to assure that they have them.
My students are often underestimated for being young men, of color, students whose first language is not English, boys, working class, and reluctant.
However, I know these single stories are untrue. Rather, my students are simply waiting for the opportunity to be brilliant. They want to become excellent readers. They want to be scholars. They want to make someone proud. Far too often, though, they don't get a second chance.
The majority of my students are in my class (a low-track English class) for various reasons, but I'm quite positive that the same majority could do quite well in upper level classes. They need to become better readers, though. We read daily. I conference with them. They have reading goals of completing 12 books for the semester. They are just starting to realize that they can be great.
For many years, I've maintained a classroom library of 500 books on average. I donated those books to the last classroom and school I taught in. My current classroom library is quite paltry. Our school library does not have books that interest my students, and they would be the first to declare that.
I want to flood my classroom with books that students will read. My students need compelling books to read to jump start a love of literacy. I'm an adolescent literacy teacher-scholar. I know that a combination of texts, conferences, and time to talk about reading helps to build a reading community, and that is what I'm after. I would like to put books as far as the eye can see in my classroom to allow students to know that, yes, reading happens here and, yes, all of these books are ones you can (and must) read!
Everyone deserves the experience of falling in love with a good book.
My students are reading at least four grades below level. As high school students, we do not have time to waste. I need the books to help create a classroom reading space that encourages students to improve their literacy experiences and reading levels as quickly as possible. I have had former students who report that after my classes, they have positive experiences with reading and they continue to read; that's my goal now.
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