With the pandemic in the rearview mirror, sophomores in Mrs. von Schoenermarck’s two American literature classes resumed their participation in an independent reading experiment, one that encouraged them to complete books extending beyond the school curriculum. From September to June, students immersed themselves in a vast assortment of literary worlds, including such genres as biography, science fiction, mystery, romance, fantasy, and historical fiction.
Using Peggy Kittle’s Book Love as a model, all class members embarked upon a journey that incorporated 10 minutes of in-class reading every Monday and Wednesday, along with 10 minutes at home on the other nights, in an attempt to spend an hour per week with a book of choice. The students also engaged in one-on-one conferences with their teacher at least one to two times a trimester in order to chat about their reading habits and interests. “Book Buddies”–-a kind of in-class book club–-was held twice a trimester to discuss setting, characterization, use of titles, opening, and closing lines, etc., from whichever books class members were reading at that time. Beyond those activities, students were also required to deliver one public speaking presentation which offered each person the opportunity to promote the story that he/she was reading.
With the final tally calculated, members of the third and sixth period classes devoured an impressive 243 books, roughly averaging out to at least three additional books (beyond required course reading) per student. With summer on the way, they hope to continue the trend by packing a novel in their beach bags along with their customary lunch and sunscreen!