book ’em

The one consistent in my high school teachings is that students read for homework. Everyday. It’s required. At the beginnings of school years it’s quite common for students and parents to ask me: “Read what?”

“Any book at grade level or higher. Any book approved by parents. Any book.”

“Where do I find these books?”

“School library. Community library. Bookshelf at home, my classroom, Grandma’s house . . . etc. Bookstore.”

I always find these questions to be disheartening. It’s not as though I’m asking anyone to unearth quaint archeological artifacts. Just books. But students and parents are truly puzzled: Where in the world can they find books that a high school student will actually read from cover-to-cover? I know from experience that once you get a teenager on a roll for reading, they’re hooked. Many of them love reading. They talk enthusiastically about their books. They argue about which books are better. You can’t get some of their noses out of the books they’ve chosen.

So, in honor of National Library Week April 13-19, I’ve come up with lists that have satisfied even the most reluctant of readers.

Not surprisingly, girls’ and guys’ reading habits differ. Here are some gender-specific sites I’ve found:

  • From the now-defunct TV series Gilmore Girls, comes a list of Rory’s faves. This is truly an outstanding list.
  • One of my favorite sites for guys: Guys Read. Take time to visit. It’s a treat.

A British online newspaper, The Telegraph, just came out with a list of 110 best books that make up the perfect library, books that have changed the world. Hyperbole aside, these are great suggestions.

What are your favorite booklists? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

And while we’re on the subject, here’s a book I ran across that I think might be an interesting read for students and teachers alike: My So-Called Digital Life: 2,000 Teenagers, 300 Cameras, and 30 Days to Document Their World by Bob Pletka. Here’s an excerpt from the blurb:

Grouped into categories, the powerful student essays and photos address the trip to and from school, learning and the ways students play after school. The intimate images reach far beyond the headlines and hype about teen trends and emphasize the enormous pressures students face, beginning with their grueling schedules–many pictures show the predawn commute to school. Equally affecting are the students’ frank critiques of the “dull, lifeless” teaching methods and the joy they find in dynamic classrooms. Adults and teens will come away stirred and enlightened by this raw, impressive student collaboration and by Pletka’s moving introduction, which challenges administrators to rethink how school is taught.


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