"But it's the chosen reading that turns kids into livelong readers."
The librarian said this, and I'd certainly heard it before. And I agree with it. But I've never known of a great way to integrate it into my classroom. The 9th grade curriculum - Fences, A Lesson Before Dying, In the Time of Butterflies, Persepolis, Romeo and Juliet - is pretty full. We're now only on A Lesson Before Dying, which basically is written at a 6th grade level or so, at least in terms of language. I don't have any issue with teaching it to my 9th grade classes. First of all, many of the students are struggling or reluctant readers, and the level works well. Secondly, the novel, despite its simplicity of language, is also very distinctively written (lots of parallelism) and quite complex in subject matter. At its simplest, it's about a man trying to teach another man to die with dignity, but there is so much else there - questions about what the worth of a human life is, issues of expectation and race and "wearing the mask", etc. It's a great teach, certainly one of my favorites both in my teaching and non-teaching life.
But so many of the kids aren't even reading it. We ended up through Chapter 10 before the holiday and the snow days, and most of the kids did not pick up the book between Dec. 19 and Jan. 4. Then, they returned to school - I gave them an extra day to get caught up with the reading the put off the reading check quiz until Jan. 5 - and just mailed it in for the quiz. Several turned in blank quizzes.
With this in mind, how can I integrate independent reading into my classroom? When? Some of the students are reading at a high level and are bored by the slow pace with which I'm reading ALBD. Others can't - or won't - keep up. And I'm so overwhelmed by everything this year (the planning is really intense; I feel like I work at school until 5 or 6 and then come home and work until 10 - nearly every night), that the thought of adding another dimension just seems impossible. I can barely get to vocabulary.
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