It probably does not surprise anyone that I, as a literature teacher, have a stack of books I plan to devour this summer. Reading through them, they shall each show up in my blogs in one way or another, no doubt. As an initial post on the topic, I thought I’d start off on a silly note: how I selected the books as well as how I determined my plan of attack. Being a teacher, naturally I did a quick Google search for the recommendations of other teachers. Here’s the list I started with.
My next step was to narrow down the list. First of all, I have taught Item #9 on the list, The Watsons Go to Birmingham, by Christopher Paul Curtis, for over 6 years. So if I read it again over this summer, it will only be because I have run out of reading material and might appreciate getting to read the book for enjoyment, not simply to keep ahead of the pace of my students. Unfortunately, eliminating (or postponing) this book still left me with 9 books. Returning to the main list once again, item #10, The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank, can be eliminated for much the same reason–I teach portions of it every year. Thus my list was down to 8 books. While reading eight books over the course of 1 summer out of school is not unrealistic, at this point I feel it best to be honest; some books I am just not interested in reading. Therefore, here is the list of books which I aim to read before this summer is gone and I am back within the confines of the prescribed curricula:
- The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster (Honestly, I’ve taught an abridged version of this for 6 years, and I CANNOT wait to read the full-length version!! Too bad it’s currently checked out at my local library…)
- Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis (I love his other books!)
- Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson (No, I didn’t see the movie. It just looked so ‘girly’ that no one in my young family was interested in seeing it.)
- The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt (I am SOOO EXCITED to read this! But again, can’t find it at my library. That’s probably a good sign…)
- The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare (Another one I cannot wait to read, but can’t find a copy of!)
- Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech (Dang it! Why didn’t I read this before now! It’s been on the book shelf in my previous classroom for the entire year!!)
- Wringer, by Jerry Spinelli (I just know his writing has made a huge impact on the students within the age group I teach…but his writing is not really my favorite–though this one might impress me, as it claims to be dystopian!)
And now for my own contributions to this list (based on their award-winning status and the fact that I have never read them before):
- Sarah, Plan and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan
- The Whipping Boy, by Sid Fleischman
- Sounder, by William H. Armstrong (Sorry, Debbie, I don’t mean to embarrass you by not having read this yet; remember I was not privileged enough to be in AP English for every year of my primary/secondary school career!)
- Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Neylor.
- Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell (This one has been highly recommended to me throughout my teaching career from my female AP students, and, though not on the list of 10 must-reads I shared in this article, it does appear on numerous other important middle-school readers.)
So now that you see my reading list and how I have gone about compiling it in a somewhat academic fashion, here’s my non-academic approach to selecting the order in which to read them: length and availability at my library. (While I like to think of length as a common-sense approach to which gets read first, my daughter snickered at me saying, “It figures.” My ego appreciated that she followed her comment up (after a brief pause) noting, “That’s probably how I would do it, too.”
So that’s my list of 12, how I chose them, and in what order I plan to read them. This brief post is meant as a teaser of sorts for any of my upcoming posts which might potentially be inspired by said reading materials. Additionally, it is meant to solicit the recommendations of my readers. If you know of some great middle school or high school reading material that does not appear on my list above and should be listed, please send me a quick note with your recommendations!
Thanks for your input!