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Every English teacher needs to have a list of recommended reading, books that the teacher enjoys and thinks students might like too! Choose books that will appeal to girls as well as boys, and include young adult and multicultural works. Include books from a range of difficulty levels and help connect students to books appropriate to them. Indicate titles with mature themes that may need parental approval. Only list books you have read and you think will authentically interest students. Share your book list with students, teachers, parents, and administratorsurge them all to make their own lists. Let students make suggestions to you, and, if you like the book too, include it on your list.
Make your classroom a place that supports reading by talking about the books you like, having lots of book share opportunities, library visits, silent reading times, read alouds, literature circles, etc. Require outside reading or use outside reading as extra credit or recognize in special ways students who read books from your listget them all reading!
Write book descriptions that come alive.
Here are samples of suggested reading list webpages. Notice how images of the book are used and serve as links to places where students can find books. See the reading lists of: Matt Johnson, Jeremy Rosenau, J.T. Batcher, Erin Neeley
Here are samples of approaches former students have tried to writing book descriptions:
Connect to Their Age Group
Taking Sides, by Gary Soto Ever move to a new neighborhood? An Hispanic American teenage basketball player has to leave the inner-city and try to fit in in the suburbs. What will it be like?
We Hate Everything But Boys, Linda Lewis A humorous coming of age story about three girls who endure a variety of problems from parents, to friends, to boys.
The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton Ponyboy is 14 tough and confused, yet sensitive beyond his bold front. Since his parent's death his loyalties have teen to his brothers and his gang, the rough, swinging, longhaired boys from the wrong side of the tracks. When his best friend Jonny kills a member of a rival gang, a nightmare of violence begins and swiftly envelopes Ponyboy in a turbulent chain of events.
Connect to Their Interests
As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner This classic is about a family that has to bury their mother. For those who like Quentin Tarintino, this is a must because of all the disconnected view of the characters.
The Hundred Yard Lie, Rick Telander Outlines the corruption which is promoting decay in the world of college football. But Telander doesnąt just rip college football, he presents an alternative design to the current format which is very thought-provoking. If you like ESPN's "Sportcenter," you will love this book!
Appeal to Their Curiosity
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury This is an intense science fiction book written in the '50s. If nothing else, read this book to see if Mr. Bradbury' predictions have come true. It's a great novel to get you thinking about the future and all the books you read and television you watch.
Anthem, Ayn Rand What if we did not have any choice? What would happen if everything from out jobs to our hobbies were regulated by the government: What would happen if we forgot the word "I"?
Create a Sense of Mystery
Frankenstein, Mary Shelly Frankenstein is a horror novel set in Switzerland in the late 1700's. Robert Walton, an explorer attempting to sail to the North Pole, finds Victor Frankenstein, half-frozen on an ice flow. Waltonąs crew rescues Frankenstein who then proceeds to unravel the events that let him to his fate.
Engage Their Sense of Justice
Night , Elie Wiesel Elie Wiesel, a survivor of the Nazi death camps of W.W.II recalls the horror of one of humanities darkest episodes. Well-written and, at times, shocking, the book will take you on an historical journey and, in the process, will create within you an awareness of injustices which exist yet today.
Warriors Don't Cry, Melba Beals Is it hard to find friends and fit in? The true story of sixteen-year-old Melba Beals, one of the first Black students who had to try to fit in to an all white school in Little Rock, Arkansas, will make the Civil Rights movement come alive for you.
Connect to Something Popular
"Raisin in the Sun," Lorraine Hansberry Broke all records for the longest running play on Broadway, a notable accomplishment for an African American womanHansberry was the first from either category to write a Broadway hit. The play is an enchanting and eye-opening drama with a focus on a determined African American family searching for their dreams.
Tonto and the Lone Ranger Fist Fight in Heaven, Sherman Alexi By America's hottest Native American author telling the real story of contemporary life on his reservation. Portions of the book were made into the hit film "Smoke Signals."
Sex, Taboo Appeal
Forever, Judy Blume. Many people have tried to ban this book because it tells a story about what it is like for a high school girl to have sex for the first time. Parental guidance recommended.
Am I Blue?, Marian Dane Bauer Another book people want to ban, short stories by top young adult authors with teenage main characters addressing in many different ways homosexual family members, feelings, and friendships.
Appeal to a Sense of Humor
Don Quixote, Miguel de Cervantes. This is 17th Century humor at its finest! Cervantes tells of a hero/madman named Don Quixote who truly believes he is a knight in shinning armor sallying forth for the common good.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, by William Shakespeare Think of the most mixed up love story in your mom's soap operas; this one is worse. Not only do four mixed up loves find themselves lost in the woods, the king and queen of the fairies (along with their minions) confuse the whole situation even more!
Pass on Your Enthusiasm
Catch-22, Joseph Heller A satirical look at the nature of war, and its effect on those who fought in it. This is one of the funniest books I've ever read. The basis of this story was used as a model for the movie and television series, "M*A*S*H." The books contains some questionable language and situations, parental guidance.
Boss, Mike Royko The story of the political machine of Chicago under the control of Richard Daly, Boss takes a very interesting look at city politics and government corruption. This book changed how I viewed the American government.
[Western Michigan University] WMU English Department [WMU English Education]
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Revised Date: 11/99