The Vine: September 25, 2009
Inevitably there is backstory (which I have tried to keep short), but ultimately this is a request for book title suggestions.
My mom lives in rural Utah.She volunteers for a tiny and ill-funded (understandably; the town has fewer than five thousand residents) 501c3 that provides afterschool tutoring and snacks to about 20 kids, all ESL elementary and middle school students, most several grade levels behind for reading comprehension, very few have even one parent that is comfortable speaking English.
The kids are seriously fantastic.They are engaged, they are interested, they are nifty.They are also easily discouraged when it comes to reading.The reading material that's provided by the school is clearly remedial and involves lots of word lists, and they're not learning to read for fun.Reading is a chore, and it's worse, somehow, than even math, something I cannot imagine.
The stuff the program has is mostly picture books (although recently, there has been an onslaught of Twilight donations, and they do have Captain Underpants), but what they do have that's at a comfortable reading level, or even an easy-ish stretch, they have all read over and over or is dull subject matter for them, so their comprehension and confidence aren't increasing.
The reading levels seem to span from about 2nd grade through about 7th grade. My mom needs books for the kids.The kids need stuff to read that's fun and interesting, and, oh, please, not all about vampires.
I'm good with getting them books (hello, tax deduction!), but I don't know what titles to get.Kids aren't still reading Nesbit, are they?Those are the only children's chapter books I remember, before I started raiding my parent's bookshelves.
Can your readers give me suggestions? Books that y'all loved, elementary school through, say, 10th grade.Fiction, non-fiction, whatever made you want to read more.
And yeah, the library would seem like a natural resource for this, but parents have to sign off on library-card applications for minors, and — not so much most of these parents.The two kids reading above grade level have library cards.My mom checks out ten children's books every two weeks for the kids, the maximum allowed.
If you want more details on the program for whatever, I can give you that.
Perfect timing for your letter, for two reasons!First, once the contest page goes live, you and/or your mom can browse some of the reading-project requests and see what other teachers have asked for, to get ideas.I know I've added a few Captain Underpants requests to the list.
Second, I myself just finished plowing through the first three books in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.("PLOOPY."Manny kills me, you guys.)I don't know what formal grade level the books are, but I got wind of them from an 11-year-old young lady who found them hilarious, and there's a website. It also looks like the books come in Spanish, if that's the kids' first language; they could start out on the Spanish-language version, get psyched about the books, and be inspired to continue in English. Or at least be inspired to continue.
At that age, I had my nose buried in Stephen King, which I wouldn't advise but wouldn't exactly discourage, either (this is why I shouldn't have kids; heh) — but I also still liked re-reading the Newbery Award set my mom had gotten me: The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and I think Johnny Tremain came as part of that set.(Please tell me someone else had a discussion with her best friend about Rab coming off as a smug dillweed.…Just me and Agent Weiss, then?Great.)
Readers?Any thoughts — on inspiring books for pleasure reading, or on wanting Rab to march off to war and shut it already?
Tags: Ask The Readers contests popcult