Myth #2–I have to Know a Lot About YA Literature

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Let’s face it; we can’t all be Book Whisperers (nod to esteemed colleague and friend Donalyn Miller).  The life of an English teacher usually involves hours bent over essays or perusing the same classical text we’ve taught for the umpteenth time.  When am I supposed to have time to read something for fun let alone books for teens?    

I don’t expect every high school teacher to be a card carrying member of the American Library Association, dedicated to each new issue of School Library Journal.  When I first introduced independent reading or Sustained Silent Reading (SSR) into my classroom routine, I had a grand total of 15 books sitting on the shelf,  five of which were in the Harry Potter series.  
It doesn’t matter where you start as long as you start somewhere.  I don’t care if it’s The Hunger Games or even Twilight.  If your students start to see you as a reader, then they will begin to see that reading has value.

You may not know much about YA when you begin, but by the end of the first month you will have more book recommendations from students, blogs, and your librarian then you know where to make your reading piles.  Until then, here are a few sites to feed your new-found literary habit:

1)  Goodreads.com–a social site that allows users to build shelves (to-be read, reading, read) and organize their reading lists, browe new titles, connect with readers and authors, and rate and review their books. 
2) Teachmentortexts.com–a blog by two teachers who are devoted to sharing books they read that promote all areas of literacy.  The books are reviewed and can be filtered by literacy strand that the bloggers see an opportunity for classroom use as a mentor text.  Using current, exciting young adult literature to teach literacy!  How novel!
3)  YouTube–A simple search for “young adult book trailers” will produce gobs and gobs of professional and fan-made book trailers.  Bre sure to preview trailers before showing them to kids as the quality and content may not always be suitable for classroom use.
4)  Barnes and Noble/ Amazon–both bookseller’s sites have a section for young adult literature, recommendations, reviews, and lists.  Warning:  do not auto-fill your credit card info before browsing as purchasing all the wonderful titles you find becomes very addicting and “just one more book” becomes two boxes full of hardbacks delivered by your local FedEx truck!
5)  Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)–www.ala.org/yalsa  A division of ALA devoted to young adult teachers, librarians, and readers, this organization provides several useful top ten lists compiled by teens themselves.
6)  Figment.com–Here we have another social media site where users can be readers and writers.  There are forums for writers to publish their own work on the site and to browse other user’s writings.  On the reading side, Figment posts latest book news, trailers, author interviews, and reviews. 

A thriving reading community is dependent upon authentic reading role-models.  As the facilitator of the community, the time that you invest in reading in front of your kids and talking about what you are raeding, the more gains you will see in their level of interest. 
I may never be the kind of reader I imagine in my head; I read much more slowly than some might imagine.  Unlike my colleagues, I can’t race through a 400-page novel in one Sunday afternoon.  I don’t know if I’ll ever read ALL of the Newbery books or complete a hundred book challenge.  But, I do know that if I never try, then not only will I never be that reader, but neither will my students. 

How did you make that reading leap?  What book re-invented you as a reader?

Happy reading!

Audrey

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