“Look What I’m Reading for Pleasure”

I have a student whom I just love (well, a lot of them, actually, but I’m going to focus on just the one today). I have taught her for three years. I teach in a small school, and sometimes that happens. When she was a ninth grader, she let me know she didn’t like to read. One day it dawned on me she might really like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, so I told her she should check it out—I thought she’d like it. I don’t really remember for sure, but I think she was in tenth grade by that point. She devoured the book. And the next. And the next. She got the last one when it came out.

Yesterday she showed me that she’s reading The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George. She said, “Look what I’m reading, Ms. Huff. For pleasure! For pleasure!” She watches The Tudors and has developed a real interest in the historical personages depicted in the series. This book is nearly 1000 pages long. I know the Twilight books aren’t skinny, but I admit I was impressed. She is excited about next year and the opportunity to take a Shakespeare course. In short, whether she’s a voracious reader or not, I don’t know, but she is a reader now. So am I taking credit for that? Heck yes, I am (/Napoleon Dynamite voice). In all seriousness, I made a suggestion. It seemed casual at the time, but it did have an impact in that my student did read and love the book I suggested for her. But I didn’t do anything, really. The book did.

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9 thoughts on ““Look What I’m Reading for Pleasure”

  1. That is an awesome book! One of the things I love about teaching at an alternative school is that there is plenty of time for the kids to read, so that kids who have never picked up a book in their life become hooked. It's intoxicating!

  2. That is great! I love it when students come over to browse my classroom library and ask for book recs. Lately I've had a few kids bring me novels they've enjoyed and thought I would like. Love that, too!

  3. Mt 9th graders read independently every morning and after a few months, they also began coming to me for recommendations. Its great that they trust me enough to give any book I try, although I do put thought into the recommendations. Whats even better is when they start recommending books to one another which they do quite often! Being able to accept a book recommendation (and give one) is definitely an indication of becoming a life-long reader!

  4. It is amazing what the right book recommendation at the right time can do. Bravo to you for knowing and caring about your students.

  5. This is a very inspiring post. I feel like a lot of teachers look at their high school students as set in their ways, especially when it comes to their taste for reading and subject preferences. This instance shows that a passion for literature can be sparked at any time, and any age. As English teachers, we should strive to turn all of our "nonreaders" on to books. The right suggestion can really make a world of difference, like yours did for this particular student.

  6. I am with you about the importance of pleasure in reading. I wrote in an article this past December in JAAL that made a case for re-reading in the English classroom. The argument, which come out of my own NYC HS classroom, is that teachers can't make students read-for-real. Also, students start faking reading and teachers have to confront this reality head on. One way to do so is by re-reading books from students' childhood. In addition to the article itself, I wrote up some curriculum on Readwritethink: http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view….

    Thanks for the thoughtful post! I'm adding you to my Reader.

  7. It is great when students are reading for pleasure. While looking up stuff for his research paper, I had a student that found some illustrations someone had done re: Dante's Inferno. My student is now reading DANTE's INFERNO (as a non-honors junior, whose first language is not English) for fun. I can hardly believe it. It makes me SO happy.

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