Sunday, August 22, 2010

When sixth grade boys don't want to read, what will get their attention?

Every librarian's dream occurred in my last class on the last day of the first week of school. It was such a zinger, I must share it!

Night of the Howling Dogs

The sixth grade boys came in, we did our continent review, added some new information to what they knew. I collected their maps for further work next time. Then I read to them the first few pages of "Night of the Howling Dogs," one of the contenders for 2010's Louisiana Young Readers' Choice, sponsored by the State Library of Louisiana. This is a rip-roaring adventure story of the first order (along with themes of relationships, bullying, courage, and finding oneself).  I had read one page when one of the new boys raised his hand: "Can I check out that book?" Oh, yes, you can, I thought. "Sure, of course," I actually said.

Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything NastyBut what I'm getting to is what happened with another new student. Nearly all the boys in this sixth grade class are readers, but this one new student told me he didn't like to read. Usually, I can find nonfiction that will appeal to their interests. I showed him the Believe It or Not section. Soon, he came with book in hand. It was "Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty." Oh ho, my fine young friend. So that's your taste, I thought to myself. "Let me show you another book you might like," I actually said aloud.
Dino Poop & Other Remarkable Remains Of The PastDino Poop & Other Remarkable Remains Of The Past
He was actually embarrassed at first. I assured him the book was legitimate scientific study, as I had read it myself. After checking it out, he took that book to one of the reading nooks with pillows. The laughing and downright giggling that came from that corner warmed the cockles of my heart. Those boys had discovered that books can be fun, that they are worthy of reading and sharing.

I also discovered that it is most helpful to read as many of the books on the shelves as possible. This summer I read a number of new books. Two came in handy in classes this week. In the class of fifth grade boys we were talking about Africa. One of the boys asked if giraffes came only from Africa. Wow, I thought, I read that this summer in Animal Lives: Giraffes (Animal Lives (Teacher Created Resources))Animal Lives: Giraffes (Animal Lives (Teacher Created Resources)), one volume in a multi-volume series. In fact, the spots on giraffes differ from region to region. And, yes, they are found only in Africa.

When we discussed Antarctica, I could tell them that it never rains there. Someone asked why the Arctic Circle wasn't a continent. Another answered because there is no land mass there. A fine book to consult--and I'll put these books out next week-- isAntarctica (True Books)Antarctica (True Books)

Oh what a delight for a librarian! What a fine end to a tiring first week!

Addendum: I've discovered a new series to add to this list--the Conspiracy 365 set of 12 books, each corresponding with a month (making 365 days). I can speak only for book one: "January," which is a thrill ride from page one to the last page! Surely, the "reluctant" reader will find these irresistible!
January: January (Conspiracy 365) 

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A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.