So, not sure how this whole blogging this is going to end up working. Last year, I really got into became obsessed with Goodreads, and I surprised myself with how much I actually enjoyed writing reviews. So this blog is partly for that.
Warning. Some self-aggrandizing ahead…
As an eighth-grade language arts teacher, I have the responsibility of instilling a love of reading in teenagers. Sometimes students arrive in my classroom hating reading and books. It is my job, and I take it very seriously, of changing those attitudes. I really think it just takes the right book. Sometimes students arrive in my classroom already loving reading and books, and then it is a matter of just maintaining. Or, let’s be honest, not screwing that up.
Either way, I think that age range, 13 – 15, is a crucial one for making or breaking individual reading habits. I have always loved reading, but I went on about a ten year hiatus from reading for fun starting in eighth grade. What the heck happens at that age? Kids get busier; there are more activities, sports, and stuff for kids to get involved in. Also, assigned reading becomes more of a thing. Which, in my experience, has never actually encouraged recreational reading. Kids gain more of a social life. Also, when I was in middle school anyway, reading just wasn’t cool. And I didn’t have the self-confidence to tell naysayers where they could put their stupid, snide comments about kids who read. This isn’t always the case, but I think a lot of middle and high schools have that kind of culture.
So this blogging thing is also about finding books that teenagers can read and actually enjoy. Finding stuff they’ll like so much that they’re pushed beyond caring who sees or knows they read.
Also, as an eighth-grade teacher, I am constantly trying to skirt the line between finding age appropriate reading and not self-censoring. Maturity levels are just as different at this age as parent involvement in what their kids are reading, so I’m always looking at the YA stuff I read with a critical eye for content. I am more on the liberal side of that issue – I want kids reading most of all, plus I think I have a decent grasp on what goes on in their lives and what they’re already exposed to via peers, movies, Internet, etc. But I wish more websites and blogs gave me a sort of “Surgeon General’s Warning” about what I’m going to find inside. Cuz, with some books, if it looks like smut and it sounds like smut…
So there’s that reason.
Finally, as a language arts (English, if you will) teacher, I do actually have to, like, teach my students language arts-y things. Like reading strategies. And literary elements. And other stuff. So I’m always in pursuit of finding books I can use to serve those purposes, too.
I hope that this blog provides that info for you: reviews and information about possible appropriateness and instructional uses for good middle grade, YA, and even adult books.
Thanks for reading! 🙂