I teach in an extremely rural high school in northern Michigan. Our county only has one public school district with about six hundred students in grades 6-12. Some students travel forty-five miles or more to attend school each day. The average family income is around forty thousand per year. Obviously, our county is very poor and many of our students receive free or reduced price lunch.
Many of my students have never been to the small, local library.
They have been raised in homes with parents who have not graduated with a college degree. Because of all this, my students haven't had access to current, engaging and teen-friendly reads.
Additionally, the library at the high school has been eliminated. Many of the books were thrown away or sold as the district couldn't pay for anyone to run the media center and many of the books that still do exist are outdated.
My hope is to create a more current classroom library to expose my students to high interest, young adult books from a variety of genres. As I am responsible for teaching English Language Arts for all students in grades 9-11, this library will serve many underprivileged teens in northern Michigan.
Reading is a daily occurrence in my classroom. I have worked hard to develop a classroom library to make books more available to my students, but I have to keep the selections updated.
Research shows that reading increases vocabulary and literacy skills.
One study (Anderson & Nagy, 1992) estimates that children learn an average of four thousand to twelve thousand, new, vocabulary words each year as a result of book reading. Also, the availability of books is a major motivating factor in getting teens to read. Students who are surrounded by books at school and at home read more.
Choice in reading material increases the amount of time spent reading, which in turn increases literacy skills. I have found that having a classroom library has dramatically increased the amount of reading my students do.
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