Friday, September 30, 2011

My Middle School Guys Read


Today was a fun and encouraging day. Two weeks ago meetings started for my all boy book club. Students were chosen to be in the club based on reading scores and teacher recommendations. I wanted this club to target those reluctant readers that are not served with resource classes or other special education accommodations, yet they still found reading to be a challenge. I also wanted it to be gender specific. Unfortunately boys are usually our most reluctant readers so I decided to go with boys this year. I may expand in the future and have a girl club too. I explained the club to the boys in a delicate way. I wanted them to be excited to be chosen and not feel punished in any way. I let them know that they were hand picked by me and the club was invitation only (major bonus points in middle school society) and that based on their reading scores they were just on the edge of making some major leaps in reading progress (which I truly believe). Most of them were happy to be chosen. Two from each grade decided that they did not want to participate. I was disappointed, but I didn't want to coerce them. I may go back and add a few more in those slots after we finish our next book. I have had several other students come begging to be in the group, but I want to keep a consistent core group so that I can monitor their academics as the year goes on.
These students come to the library after lunch during SSR and read with me. We usually read in my back office because of our lunch time visitors and classes. I purchased ten copies of the following books: Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald, Storm Runners by Roland Smith, Genius Files: Mission Impossible by Dan Gutman and The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. Three of the four have sequels. Sneaky, I know.

The 8th graders are currently reading Storm Runners. I have a recording of the book on our iPods so they read along with the recording each day. This title was one of the free titles provided this summer through SYNC YA. We will read the sequel, Storm Runners: Storm Surge next and then The Cay (another free title from this summer). We have copies of The Cay in our ELA book closets gathering dust so I've grabbed a few copies and plan to use them with my boys.
The 6th graders finished reading The Strange Case of Origami Yoda yesterday. I have been reading this to them aloud. We threw a little party today to celebrate finishing our first book. I drew inspiration from Jennifer LaGarde's amazing book release party. We watched a Youtube video I found of Tom Angleberger folding an origami Yoda and we created our own finger puppets. We drank Yoda soda (lime sherbet and 7Up) and snacked on Cheetos. If you've read the book you know why I chose that as our snack. We had so much fun and they were so proud that they finished the book. They can't wait to start reading Darth Paper Strikes Back on Monday.
I'm still waiting on a few students to finish testing in the 7th grade and then I'll get started with that group.
I'm still going to have our school-wide, open membership book club starting in November after our book fair. The four books we've selected for that club is Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman (one of our state's junior book award nominees), The Roar by Emma Clayton, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (one of our state's YA book award nominees) and The Heist Society by Ally Carter. Again, four books with sequels.
I'm not sure how I'm going to juggle all this yet, but I'm sure I'll think of something. I believe book clubs are so important that I'm willing to make some sacrifices to make it happen even if that means eating lunch while I sit with a group. I already eat in the library so it will not be much of a change. If you're still not sure if you should have a book club read the ideas of Jim Trelease. He makes many excellent points about book clubs in chapter 8 of The Read Aloud Handbook.
Do you have a book club at your school? How is it organized? Do you have a club targeted for a specific group or is it open to anyone?
What books do you recommend to reluctant readers? Boys and girls?
I would love to hear your ideas.

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