Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Gateway Books

Today was the first day of school for my students.  I teach 10th grade American Literature.  I always start the first day by telling my students that my number one goal is to teach them to love reading.  Many of them don't believe me and fight the fact that I'm making them pick a book on the first day of school.  I tell them to remember this day, because we'll talk again at the end of the semester.

I show them some of my favorite book trailers and bring in a cart of what I like to call my "gateway books" books.  These are books that I've found even my most reluctant readers tend to get hooked on.  I hold these books up, gush about them and then let my students make book selections  (we also have a library with an AMAZING selection of books for those students who want something different).  Everyone walks out of my class with a book in their hands and I promise them the first fifteen minutes of every class to read.  

The reading is slow going at first, my students aren't too into reading for fifteen minutes, but as the days go on, sure enough, most get hooked.  My students will even call me out if I don't give them the full fifteen minutes of reading time.  The best part of all of this for me is when one of them finishes their book before the assigned due date and asks what they should do next.  

Can you guess what I say?

"Go pick another book!"

And you know what the greatest thing is?  

Most of them want to!

YA is taking over the world, and I'm starting in my classroom!

The "gateway" books I bring from the library.
One of my book corners with more favorites.

Gateway Books:

Some Girls Are (Summers)
Thirteen Reasons Why (Asher)
Divergent (Roth)
Break (Moskowitz)
You (Benoit)
The Mockingbirds (Whitney)
The Summer I Turned Pretty (Han)
Before I Fall (Oliver)
The Book Thief  (Zusak)
Little Brother (Doctorow)
Wake (McMann)
If I Stay (Foreman)
Pefect Chemistry (Elkeles)
Boot Camp (Strasser)
Anna and the French Kiss (Perkins)
Lola and the Boy Next Door (Perkins)
Bunheads (Flack)
Cracked (Walton)
City of Bones (Clare)
Knighs of Hill Country (Tharp)
Gym Candy (Deuker)
The Hunger Games (Collins)

*I would include Lucy Christopher's Stolen and Dana Reinhardt's Things a Brother Knows to my "gateway books", but I'm lucky enough to have a class set, so I get to teach two units using YA literature!  I think every English class needs a mix of the classics and new books.  Don't you think?


Elsie Chapman said...

I really love this post, Rachele! And I love knowing that you teach Gr 10 English! I still remember mine--she was awesome and made me love reading even more :) So I guess we might be seeing some Lucky 13s books in your gateway pile next year? :)

Cass (Words on Paper) said...

That's beautiful. All through high school I didn't feel like I was taught to LOVE books by my English teachers, just to analyse and read and write essays about them. When I finally discovered YA in the 12th grade (by myself), it was only then that I was ever excited about the written language. Mostly. I think it's just that under all the pressure that goes to pushing out all those ideas on books that you're forced to read over and over again just squeezed all the fun out of reading for me. I LOVED to read when I was younger, so yeah... it was a big thing for me when I started to pick up a new book every week.

You're doing a great thing, encouraging your students to read! I see lots of titles that I thoroughly enjoyed myself. ;) At least I can say that I generally liked all my English teachers. I find that English teachers are some of the best! I would have been ecstatic had one of mine been so enthusiastic about YA books though... just saying.