Homework Help

If it gets them to read......I want to share a breakthrough I've had. I've been...

user profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 26, 2008 at 4:37 PM via web

dislike 3 like
If it gets them to read......

I want to share a breakthrough I've had. I've been concerned that my oldest niece is not doing well in reading--after all, I teach the stuff! She says it's too boring. She likes anime, so I bought her some Manga books, but they're glorified comic books. Buy, hey, she's reading.

When I taught middle school reading, I tried to read what the kids were reading for pleasure. So I bought a copy of Uglies by Westerfeld. I really enjoyed it, so I bought the sequel, Pretties, and I gave the first book to my 11-year-old niece. I told her we could have our own book club and talk about the books. She wasn't very enthusiastic, but she took the book.

Tonight, I took her shopping. In the car, she said, "Hey, Ninna, everybody noticed that I was reading Uglies. They said they couldn't believe I was reading it." I asked her if that was good or bad. Turns out, my niece has suddenly become one of the cool kids just because of a book. Girls who never paid attention to her told her how much they liked the book and that she's just got to read Pretties.

I was amazed!!! She started asking me what the characters were like, who I liked, which one was most like her. We talked about how Tally said the sky was the color of cat vomit and tried to figure out what that would look like.

Please share your breakthrough moments!! =)

13 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

deneetyler | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 27, 2008 at 5:58 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Hey, if they are reading anything, it is good reading.  I get tons of Manga for my own children.  I also get every other kind of book, too.  They like reading variety, from classics to award winners, from the Bone series to historical fiction, from mystery to fantasy, and from science fiction to nonfiction.  That is what I try to encourage my students to do, too.  I encourage them to branch out beyond what they are used to reading and try something else.  We call it a "reading rut."

user profile pic

deneetyler | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 27, 2008 at 6:02 AM (Answer #3)

dislike 0 like

Hey, if they are reading anything, it is good reading. I get tons of Manga for my own children. I also get every other kind of book, too. They like reading variety, from classics to award winners, from the Bone series to historical fiction, from mystery to fantasy, and from science fiction to nonfiction. That is what I try to encourage my students to do, too. I encourage them to branch out beyond what they are used to reading and try something else. We call it a "reading rut."

I think that the new books by Margaret P. Haddix, Stephanie Meyers, J. K. Rowling, and many others continue to create breakout moments for many readers.  I know that my students love to read and discuss Twilight books.  Some of them love them; some of them don't.  They have great arguments about which point of view is correct.  I have taught them that if they are going to make a point about literature, they have to "take it to the book."  So, they are always pointing out passages to each other to support their arguments.  Yeah!

user profile pic

clane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted March 27, 2008 at 6:10 AM (Answer #4)

dislike 0 like

I love that story Linda! :) My students don't get very excited about reading- ever and it certainly is not something that is considered "cool", in fact it's the opposite. I try to choose all my class reading based on what I think will pique their interest and get them to read. We have a really autonomous program out here so I can pick and choose as long as it meets state standards. My biggest success with my students has been Night. The students loved the book, many stating in their personal journals that it's the only book they've ever read all the way through. I've also checked out several copies of the other parts Day and Dawn to other students who wanted to read more.

On a personal note I remember my 6th grade teacher gave me a book that didn't bore me to tears and she gave it just to me. I felt so special that she gave me a book and no one else, at least that I knew of, a book she thought I would enjoy and she was right! I loved reading everything after that!

user profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted March 27, 2008 at 6:23 AM (Answer #5)

dislike 0 like

I'm a big fan of Westerfeld's series. Take a look at Uglies and see if your kids would like it. It's set in the future after all of us "Rusties" have died away. On their 16th birthday, everyone undergoes plastic surgery to make them "pretty," meaning to look like everyone else. It's like the story "Harrison Bergeron" in that all people have to look and behave alike.

user profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 27, 2008 at 7:42 AM (Answer #6)

dislike 0 like

I have had the same success with the Spiderwick Chronicles and the Artemis Fowl books.  My students have discovered early that I love to read and take their recommendations seriously... among my favorite borrowed titles from students this year  are My Sister's Keeper (highly recommended) and The Handmaid's Tale (believe it or not, I had never read it).  When you're passionate, they will be, too.  Great story, Linda!  :)

user profile pic

malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted March 27, 2008 at 9:20 AM (Answer #7)

dislike 0 like

I've had really good luck with getting the younger kids to read (and LOVE reading) with the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.  They are quite fun, have great storylines, and teach them about history, science, fantasy...they really are gems!

Also the Brian Jacques Redwall series, and, believe it or not, To Kill a Mockingbird!

user profile pic

leagye | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted March 30, 2008 at 10:19 AM (Answer #8)

dislike 0 like

This may sound strange, but for the last three years (as long as I've been teaching high school) the book that I've had the best reaction to, by far, is Anthem. My colleagues are surprised to hear this, but it has been so popular that I have parents (I live in a small community and teach some of my friends children, as well as "bump into" parents all the time) telling me that their child won't stop talking about it. This year, two of my scholarship freshmen students told me that their mom or dad was reading it. (One student didn't have his book with him and when I asked why, he said, "My dad took it to work and forgot to bring it home." I actually confirmed this story with his dad, as I knew him and saw him regularly. I also admonished him for interferring with his son's school work...just kidding. Anyway, because it is a short novel, we read much of it in class and discuss it daily. I also always read at least half of Chapter 1 to the class aloud, and help them wade into the odd language and the absence of 1st person language. Some of them catch on immediately, while others need more time to wrap their minds around a person referring to himself as "us." Also, I have students choose names for themselves, like the characters in the book have (liberty, equality) and it is pretty funny what students will come up with.

user profile pic

mrerick | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted April 8, 2008 at 7:19 PM (Answer #9)

dislike 0 like

Edith Hamilton's Mythology works miracles with freshmen aged boys.  Each character's story is short (which is appealing to them), and they LOVE all the modern relations they can draw between the stories and their lives.  Fifteen year old boys that haven't done an assignment in three years are asking for the next assignment so they can read ahead.

user profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted August 14, 2008 at 8:17 AM (Answer #10)

dislike 0 like

Using the "if it gets them to read, it must be good" logic, we could all have copies of "Hustler" sitting around the classroom. Not all reading is good reading. We have to be selective.

One thing I've found that works for middle school boys and girls is a "Survival Lit" unit; they get all entranced by the idea of someone being lost in a wilderness and having to make it. I usually incorporate works like Hatchet, The Most Dangerous Game, To Build a Fire, and The Talking Earth to reach kids of all interests and levels.

user profile pic

linda-allen | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted August 14, 2008 at 8:38 AM (Answer #11)

dislike 0 like

Good point about Hustler. That thought has never occurred to me, but you're right.

user profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 24, 2010 at 11:07 AM (Answer #12)

dislike 0 like

I think that finding that "key" is really based on personal interest - whatever they are reading at least they are reading! For my boy it was finding that (and this has been hard for me as an English teaching Dad) he doesn't like fiction and prefers non-fiction. Thus we spend our night reading Encyclopaedias etc but it works for him.

user profile pic

allora | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 16, 2012 at 11:30 AM (Answer #13)

dislike 0 like

For each age, like and dislikes there's always a book that could get someone interested in reading. I became a book-a-holic slowly. In forth grade we read Adventure's of a Fourth Grade Nothing, and in fifth grade we read The Green Book and Goblins in the castle but I really got into books after having to read at leas two books from the Young Readers Choice Awards in grade seven. Mangas are something I became interested in grade eight. They were easy to read, you can learn a lot and there's alvays a type for everyone. I also liked the fact that they had pictures because my brain has a fault, I can't picture anything in my head, I can understand but not see. For example, the colour red. I know what it looks like. I'm not colour blind, so I can see it but if I close my eyes, there is nothing. It's all black. That same year, we read The Giver. That was an amazing book as well.

user profile pic

mizzwillie | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 17, 2012 at 5:32 AM (Answer #14)

dislike 0 like

The Hunger Games series was a breakthrough as was the Ender's Game series since so many of the reluctant readers are video game players.  Survival lit works well for me also which can incorporate the  Gordon Korman series of Dive books.  But the true breakthrough for me was years ago when my very reluctant reader niece opened up when I asked her about S.E Hinton's series of books with The Outsiders and That Was Then, This is Now. She  brought up many of the discussion points and my sister stood there with an open mouth, watching and listening to her daughter who hated reading. Now, I would also suggest to her that she would like Monster by Walter Dean Myers, one of my favorite authors, or the book Bronx Masquerade which is set in an inner city school.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes