For the third year in a row, sophomores in Mrs. von Schoenermarck’s American literature classes were part of an independent reading experiment, one that encouraged them to complete books which extended beyond the school curriculum. From September to June, students immersed themselves into a vast assortment of literary worlds, including such genres as biography, science fiction, mystery, romance, fantasy, and historical fiction.
Using Peggy Kittle’s model from Book Love, all participants embarked on a reading journey that incorporated 10 minutes of in-class reading every Monday and Wednesday and 10 minutes at home on the other nights in an attempt to read an hour per week. The students held “Book Talks” every Friday, introducing two new selections for the class to consider and engage in one-on-one conferences with their teacher at least once 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 whatever book each student was reading at that time.
Members of the third and seventh-period classes tallied an impressive 217 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!