Thursday, August 19, 2010

Guest Blogger: Alison Hart & Giveaway

Yesterday, I reviewed an entertaining YA book called WHIRLWIND by Alison Hart. It was the second book in a mystery series that centered around horses, and I'm sure many teens and tweens will enjoy these books. Today, Ms. Hart is stopping by with a very interesting guest post about the quandary she faces as a teacher!

I hope you'll take a peek at her book ideas and make a recommendation or two!

The Reading Quandary

For those of us who love books, the only reading quandary is finding enough time to get through the stack piled high on our night tables. For many teachers, however, the reading quandary is complex. 1) How to motive students who don’t love books. 2) Finding high-interest books for a wide variety of students. 3) How to present those books so once again reading isn’t considered ‘work’.

I teach reading and writing to first year students with low skills at a community college. This summer I received a grant to buy books for Literature Circles (think book clubs without the wine, cheese and gossip). I’ve always wanted to do more reading of books in my classes, but since I believe that choice helps to boost motivation, I never wanted to pick one book that students had to read. The grant gives me enough money to buy up to six copies of multiple books. Now the hard part: which books?

I’ve spent the summer searching for and reading books that might be of interest to students of all ages, nationalities, levels of comprehension/education, and backgrounds. The might is italicized because I won’t know until the semester is over which books bombed and which were embraced.

So far I’ve whittled my list to these books, most of which hit certain criteria: short, high-interest, may appeal to both sexes, variety of genres and not too abstract.

THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O’Brien—Vietnam War. Chapters are like short stories

OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck –The only classic I could find that is short and pithy!

ANOTHER PLACE AT THE TABLE by Kathy Harrison--Narrative of one woman’s thirteen year experience as a foster parent.

THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY by Alexander McCall Smith--A wonderful introduction to Botswana, Africa and mysteries.

HATCHET by Gary Paulsen--A novel of survival in the Canadian wilderness.

THE FIRST PART LAST by Angela Johnson—novel of a teen father.

FROM BAGHDAD WITH LOVE by Lieutenant Colonel Jay Kopleman-A Marine’s journey to bring a dog home from Iraq.

CHAINS by Laurie Halse Anderson—historical fiction set during the Revolutionary War.

I would love feedback from anyone who has read any of these books or suggestions for possible others. (Keep in mind my criteria.) One friend mentioned THE HUNGER GAMES, which would add science fiction to the genre choices. I still have not made the final purchases so there’s time for changes. And hopefully, if my Literature Circles work, I’ll be able to convince a few naysayers of what we already know--that reading is the best!

A huge thanks to Ms. Hart for this guest post. Maybe she'll come back and let us know which books she purchased for her classroom as well as what the students thought of them!

Giveaway alert: I have a copy of both books in the series (SHADOW HORSE and WHIRLWIND) to share with one lucky reader. Just fill out the form below -- that's it! The contest will be open until August 31st at 11:59 p.m. ET, and I will notify the winner the following day. US and Canada addresses only. Good luck!


bermudaonion said...

I've only read 4 of those books and think they're all good choices. I haven't read The Hunger Games, but from the buzz surrounding it, I suspect it's a good choice as well. My only thought might be to add a graphic novel into the mix - maybe Persepolis?

Audra said...

I have to enthusiastically echo @bermudaonion's suggestion -- Persepolis would be a great one. The story is told in such a way one doesn't have to be familiar with the Iranian Revolution to understand what is happening.

BookHounds said...

I posted this at win a book!

Unknown said...

Since I enjoy historical fiction I had to choose Chains and of course now need to look it up! :-)