Finding “The Book”

Beyond teaching students foundational grammar tools and how to write well, my passion as a future teacher lies in helping students learn how to love reading. I’ve heard so many friends of mine grumble and complain about the books that they had to read for their English classes, and every time I would feel a pang thinking about how much they would enjoy reading if they could only be shown a book that they truly and deeply identified with. I believe part of the problem is the inability of teachers to teach a book to a large class in such a way that each individual sees themselves and their situations in every book they read, but there is only so much teachers can do to encourage their students to emphasize with the stories if the students don’t desire to open their eyes and look. This is where I think connecting students with books that easily strike a chord with them–where they see the parallels between themselves and the characters for themselves and feel strongly compelled to finish the story–can make a huge difference.

Rebecca Alber on edutopia offers five tips for helping a student find the right book. These tips (as seen in the image) are a great starting place to help think about what it takes to get students to connect with books.

As a voracious reader from a young age, I have read a wide variety of books. Recently, however, as I’ve begun to collect books for my future in-class library, I’ve realized my own need to re-read books with a critical eye, inspecting books, especially YA, for similar elements in order to help me better suggest books to my students. I hope to have a respectable collection of mini-book reviews by the time I have my own classroom to help my students find “the book”.

What are some books, YA or otherwise, that you think deserve to be on every classroom shelf? What other ways can you help students connect with individual books and with reading as a whole? Comment below!