Monday, June 29, 2009

Cameron Frye, this one's for you

Something about Books

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
-- Mark Twain

Teaching on a University campus is truly one of the great joys of my life. It has also brought me some surprising challenges. The one that I am continually looking to find the right answer to is how to help my students who HATE to read, particularly the male students.

Now, I could point you to a slew of scholarly journals with articles on why this happens (and there are lots of opinions and lots of reasons). Add to that the predisposition of children and young adults to believe books are outmoded in our “media age” and you have a sea of problems to wade through.

Goodness knows that when I first started teaching, I had no idea what kind of books to recommend to BOYS! Thankfully there are people out there with much better knowledge than I to direct me to wonderful books and resources.

One of my favorites is Guys Read – here’s a little of their press release

“GUYS READ is a web-based nonprofit literacy initiative for boys founded by Jon Scieszka. It is a sponsored program of the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Statistics and anecdotal evidence shows that boys are having trouble reading. The basic idea of GUYS READ is that boys can be motivated to read by connecting with texts they will want to read.

What boys like to read is not often the same as what they are required to read. Literary fiction is the mainstay of required school reading. Yet boys often prefer non-fiction, humor, information, comics/graphic novels, and more humor.”

Makes sense, no?

Even though I don’t have any brothers, my sister and I were the only girls on either side of the family until my teen years and I learned to climb trees and play war with the best of the cousins. After all, I was the inventor of the “sweet gum ball grenade”

(you roll one of those dried out prickly seed pods in pea gravel and then pack wet sand around it – explodes on impact! What I lacked in physical prowess, I more than made up for in sneaky.) Surely I can connect to these students in some way.

My challenge is that in my Oral Interpretation classes, some of what might be more appealing for them to read doesn’t work well with performance.

One of my favorite non-fiction topics is WWII history – I thought that might appeal to some of the guys and be a good place for me to start. So I set out on a search for great Children’s and YA literature focusing on that topic.

Here is what I’ve found.

That's one list on one topic. I develop more as I get input from my students. As always, I’m open to suggestions – class starts next week. Any theme is fair game, just needs to be children’s or YA. What could you suggest for my guys in these categories? Non-fiction, fiction, humor, and information

And finally a shout out to Jen Robinson and her Book Page. This will be a wonderful resource for me and my students for years to come.


Jen Robinson said...

Thank you for your kind words about my blog, Mel. It's always nice to meet another kindred spirit. I love Guys Read, too. And your gumball grenade - brilliant! Have a great week!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Great post, Mel My son loved to read and I think it was because encouraged him at a very young with story time and RIF at the NY Public library. Books were always part of his birthday and holiday gifts, and still are even though he is an adult with his own child.

I remember him loving the book "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" -- a true WW2 story, in junior HS It was also made into a movie. He also loved anything related to D Day.

The Book Chook said...

I'm not sure if your class will extend to writing/creating as a follow up to your WW2 studies? I've recently begun to review a site called Creaza on my blog. It has a tool called Cartoonist which has a WW2 world. Kids can choose the setting, characters, props etc they need for that world, and use text boxes and speech bubbles for their writing.