Opening Doors With Literature

This week we were assigned to read chapters 3 and 4 of Penny Kittle’s “Book Love”. I am absolutely falling in love with this book. Her ideas are so open and demonstrate how people, students in particular, should be going about reading. Reading, and loving what you read are so important because not only does it enrich you but it opens you up to a whole new world of your choosing.

So, first things first, before we get into my favorite chapter so far (chapter 4), I want to talk about chapter 3. Chapter 3 in “Book Love” is completely dedicated to pace and having respect for the different readers around the world. In a classroom environment, it’s important to remember that no two students are the same. They all learn differently, they all speak differently, and they all read a different paces. Pace, when it comes to reading can mean a few different things. Pace can represent the reading level of your student, like how fast are reading. Pace can also mean letting your students take the wheel when it comes to their readings. Letting them choose what they want to read and letting them take that reading at their own pace, according to Kittle will make for more accomplished young readers and I agree with this. I hate being rushed with readings, especially readings I don’t like. On the other hand, if I enjoy what I am reading and I have freedom with that reading, I am more likely to get it done sooner. That’s something that I like with this class, we have the opportunity to chose what we want to read and we have goals for those readings, but everything is basically at our own pace. I love it and I feel like I get a lot done.

Okay, so let me start this paragraph off by saying I loved chapter 4 and I was really hoping this book would have a chapter like this. So chapter 4 is all about how reading opens doors. As I have discussed in a few of my previous blog posts I am a very open reader. I like to keep my options open and I like to keep an open mind when I pick up a new book. I am a firm believer in the phrase “Don’t knock it ’till you try it”! With this being said, I think it is important to keep an open mind when it comes to reading new genres. I think students should be encouraged to read new genres and maybe push their comfort zone a little bit. A student who loves sappy romance novels may fall in love with something more gothic. Or a student who loves graphic novels may become fond of a longer novel with no pictures what so ever! Reading opens the doors to so many different worlds and I think you should be willing to try out new worlds every now and then. Never be afraid of adventure!

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Hey, Monday! On a Monday!

Today is a day worthy of rejoice! I actually managed to complete my Monday blog on a Monday! Not Wednesday, not Saturday, but Monday! Anyways, this last week was just full of chaos and book after book. Some I struggled with and others came out on top!

I started the week off with the mentality that I wanted to read something different. After I finished off Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland I took a bit of a different approach in choosing my first book. Since we did all the work with banned books I thought it would be interesting to pick a book off of that list that’s kind of different from what I have read so far.

I decided to dig into Stephen King’s Carrie. I’ve seen the movie but I had never picked up the book before. I’ve always had issues with reading Stephen King, I love his stories, I love the drama and I love the horror, but I am not a fan of Stephen King’s writing style. I think it’s just due to the fact that he is so descriptive in his work. He could spend forever describing a scene down to the tiniest detail and I think it really does help with developing a scene but I just have a difficult time staying involved with the reading. I found that this was happening in Carrie but I pushed myself through. I love the story of Carrie, I like to think of it as every bully’s worst nightmare. Reading about the corrupt mother combined with the high school bullies and that famous scene involving the bloody prom, I really felt for Carrie and if I had her abilities I might have reacted in the exact same way!!

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When I finished off Carrie I was inspired to read another banned book that takes a different approach to handling bullies: 13 Reasons Why. For those of you who don’t know, there is a series on Netflix based off of the book 13 Reasons Why. Season two is going to be released in a few weeks and I still need to watch season one. I had a pretty good idea about the main plot but I decided I should read the book before I got into the series. Anyways, this book absolutely broke my heart. I have a tendency to really get pulled into certain stories and Hannah’s story really brought out the emotions. Reading about the things she felt and how she was dealing with these negative feelings kind of tore me apart. I had a two friends when I was in high school that were dealing with things that no body knew about, like Hannah, and it brought them to suicide as well. Listening to the tapes being broken down and all the different emotions, it just hit too close to home with me.

I think after that, I needed a break from all the high school drama and I turned to something a little bit more magical. Late in the week I started reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. I’m still in the beginning chapters but so far I really like it! I look forward to being able to talk about the book and the ending next week!

Until then… Happy Monday!

BANNED books

The topic of Banned Books has always been a tricky one for me. I think it’s because I’ve always been such a free reader. I go into a new book with an open mind and I just take it all in as I go along; I don’t really think of the problematic contents as a problem, it’s just part of the story. I don’t really know if I have a comfort zone when it comes to reading. I like to venture out with the things I chose to read and I think I like reading about the controversial, the touchy subjects, and unique story lines. I think it’s part of what keeps me coming back for more or maybe you could just say it’s my inner demons poking out!

I grew up reading things like Harry Potter, I fell in love with the whimiscal stories and the magic behind it all. I loved the hints of darkness and I loved all of the unique character stories. I had no idea Harry Potter was a part of the Banned Books list until I was almost done with the series. At the time, this was confusing to me. I was so in love with the series that I didn’t understand how it could be so frowned upon. I now understand that because of my beliefs, I never saw the content as anything bad. Those with beliefs the oppose mine see otherwise.

As a future teacher, I believe it’s important for me to get past this idea of free reading and really start to consider the content of certain pieces because not all of it will be appropriate for the classroom. I think it’s important to get a read on your students first, if you understand them then you might get a better idea about the things they would like to read. I’m not saying all controversial material should be cut out. Students should be learning about certain things, history for example, from an honest approach. The world isn’t sugar coated, I’m just saying we wont be breaking open Fifty Shades of Grey in the classroom as a romance. Novels like Huckleberry Finn, The Great Gatsby, and Beloved could play a valuable role in the classroom. Novels such as these share such a raw honesty, have an interesting story line, and helped shape literature as we know it today.

A Wonderful Week in Review

Something that helps me get through the week is the amount of free reading I’m allowed to do for this class. I love it because I get to read the young adult literature that I actually want to read and at my own pace too. This last week I got a lot of work done, and by that, I mean I finished three new books. It’s not necessarily work to me, but to others, my boyfriend for example, the process seems awful.

Last week, I finished up The Graveyard Book; I enjoyed it so much I thought I should pick up another graphic novel that may be a little bit more familiar to people: Coraline. As some of you may know, Tim Burton brought the worlds of Coraline to life in one of his amazing stop motion pictures. I just thought the movie existed, I had no idea there was a graphic novel in the mix as well. For those of you who have seen the movie, you know the tale and you know the imagery to be disturbing. If not, think of a scary spider lady with buttons for eyes. Reading this graphic novel was so much fun, especially since I am such a big Tim Burton fan and now a big Neil Gaiman fan. I enjoyed following this story that I was already so familiar with from a totally new perspective.

The Second book I completed this week took me a bit of time, but it was so worth it! In my British Literature class we had to read sections from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I had to sit and think for a while about whether or not this would be considered young adult literature. In class we discussed this as being children’s literature but that children’s literature back in the day was more mature and the stories being told didn’t really seem like they were meant for children due to their dark nature. With this being said, I went with my own judgment. I would be more likely to read Lewis Carroll as a teen. Reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was absolutely amazing. The dark nature lurking between the lines kept me coming back for more because this absolutely was not the Disney-washed tale I grew up with as a child. I got to see all the stories that aren’t typically included in the movies such as the one with the two woman and the pig for a baby. I also got to see hints of drug use and adventure that aren’t associated with children’s novels. Overall, I loved it!

The last book completed this week was Long Way Down. I discussed this book a bit in a previous blog post and I want to wait until my next book club blog to really get into the outcome of  this book! I can say though, I was not disappointed!

Reacting to Book Love

Penny Kittle’s first few chapters of Book Love were both easy to relate to and intriguing at the same time. I think I discussed this in a previous blog, but when I was in high school, before every class started we would have a designated reading time. Each student was allowed to read a book of their choice for this period of time. I personally loved it, but I remember many hating it. Penny Kitty digs into this a bit, she doesn’t talk about students being forced to read, but how young adults should love what they read.

As an English Education major, I get questioned on my choice in teaching this subject quite a bit. Everybody always tells me that I may be a good teacher, but my students wont like my class because they will be forced to read and do things that they don’t want to do. They wont have their freedom so my class will be bad. That is probably, by far, the most ridiculous thing I think I have ever heard. I don’t want my students to feel like they are being forced into anything, I want them to enjoy what they are learning. I believe choice matters and I believe students should have a choice in what they are reading. Penny Kittle preaches about book love and that’s how it should be. Students should love the books they are reading.

Hey! It’s… Monday?

So I have come to the conclusion that I honestly struggle with getting these Monday blogs finalized and posted on a Monday! I’m going to be like one of those inconsistent you tubers that always promise a video on Wednesday, but the video gets posted on a Friday.

So this last week I have really gotten into the whole book clubbing process. After communicating with my book club, we have decided on three different books to read this semester (so far). The first book is a graphic novel titled The Graveyard Book, the second is a novel highlighting gun violence by Jason Reynolds called Long Way Down, and the third is a police brutality novel titled The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I didn’t really know how quickly the group planned on getting through our books so I started two of them at the same time and that’s basically all I’ve been doing this last week.

The first book we have decided to read as a whole is The Graveyard Book, so I am a majority of the way through it. Growing up, I never really got into reading comic books or graphic novels so I find the process of getting through this novel rather comical even though the novel is far from comical. The novel itself is supposed to be horror based but I’m sure seeing me figure out how to read each page is silly story on it’s own! I do enjoy it though, it’s so different from anything I have read before. In my younger years I had become quite fond of the horror genre, specifically Anne Rice. With that being said, I read about a lot of vampires, not ghosts. Taking this turn is interesting and following the story of Bod and Silas is awesome in it’s own way! I would be totally freaked out if I was an orphan taken in by ghosts. But these ghosts have a whole respect for Bod that I can appreciate and they teach him so many valuable life lessons along the way. Who better to teach you about life than someone who has lived all the way through it?

The next book I’ve started, that I plan on reading this week is Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds. From what I can tell, we have chosen an interesting selection of books that are all decently controversial in their own way. This novel in particular covers a topic that is pretty big in our country today: gun violence and gun control. I really look forward to seeing where the novel will go! I have a pretty good feeling!

Anyways, everyone have a good week!

Reading Between the Wines

For as much as I love to read, I never in my life thought I would be involved in a book club. I love the freedom that comes with reading and I didn’t know if I would blend well with a group of individuals creating guidelines for me to follow and telling me what books I can and can’t read.

I just joined a book club and fortunately for me, I can tell this isn’t going to be a bad experience. So far, everyone has been really cooperative and I think the biggest dilemma we have faced so far is trying to decide what our book club should be called. Everyone involved in the club is really on top of the work that needs to be done and very active when it comes to participation and communication. We mostly rely on social media to stay involved and we have had one in person meeting. In that meeting everyone was able to agree on what books we should be readings throughout the semester.

We have decided on three books so far. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I think I’m most excited about the Graveyard Book, it is a graphic novel and from what I have read so far, it’s pretty cool!

Overall, I think everything is going well and I only see this experience getting brighter from here.