An excerpt from Pam Withers’ Jump-Starting Boys

I’m excited to share an excerpt from Pam Withers’ Jump-Starting Boys: Help Your Reluctant Learner Find Success in School and Life today.  Pam Withers is a former journalist, editor and outdoor guide who has written many sports and adventure novels for teens, including the Take-it-to-the-Extreme series. She has one son and lives with her husband in Vancouver, Canada. She is the co-founder of the youth literacy website Keenreaders and blogs at kidsliteracy.

Her latest book deals specifically with boys who are struggling in school. Below is an excerpt about boys and reading.  I think all teachers can agree that more time spent reading and more parents modeling reading will help students, both boys and girls, become more enthusiastic readers!

So What is a Reluctant Reader?

From these slumps emerge what are variously called “slow,” “struggling,” or

“reluctant” readers. And the majority of these are boys. But beware: There is no

widespread agreement on what a reluctant reader is. In fact, one sunny optimist,

Donalyn Miller, a sixth-grade teacher who wrote The Book Whisperer, says, “Lord

help the students with [those] labels.” She prefers:

developing readers: those not reading at grade level, whether due to

inadequate reading experiences or learning disabilities,

dormant readers: unmotivated, uninterested, “good enough” readers who

don’t engage with reading due to a lack of support and role models,

underground readers: gifted or beyond the average student’s level, individuals

simply uninterested in what school requires them to read.

Sticking for now with the term “reluctant reader,” we’d like to add that some

of these boys have fallen so far behind (one to two grade levels) that reading now

elicits fear and embarrassment. Perhaps they started out with the disadvantage of

speaking English as a second language (ESL). There are also “closet readers” who

prefer to read at home so they’re not seen as a reader in school. And there are kids

who slide into and out of all these descriptions.

“These categories shift and change and vary with socioeconomics and ESL

factors,” says David Ward, an assistant professor in literacy at Lewis and Clark

College in Portland, Oregon, and a children’s author. “We’ve seen a terrible crash in

wages to middle class and below, and loss of jobs. That impacts the children, home

literacy, how many books a family can buy, even affordability for getting to the

library.”

Ward says that in conversations with parents across North America, the word

he hears most is “unmotivated.” Yet when he delves deeper, he finds that half the

parents using that term have a child with a physical challenge, diagnosed or not. The

other half could benefit from putting stricter limits on their child’s television, video

game, and other media time, he notes (more on that in Chapter Seven).

Screen time is often just a symptom of a larger problem, however: parental

busy-ness, or a lack of one-on-one interaction between child and adult. In their

formative years, children desperately need the one thing that busy parents often

cannot or will not give them: time. It’s a theme well addressed in David Elkind’s The

Hurried Child.

Regardless of why a boy gets labeled a reluctant reader, determined parents

can help turn him around. If we had to boil all the advice into a sentence, it would

be: Get him reading one-on-one with someone—with you, a reading buddy, a

reading specialist, whomever—and pull out all the stops to make reading a bigger

part of his life.

Again, there’s a direct link between how much time he spends reading for

pleasure and his future achievement in life. Or, as Henry David Thoreau wrote, “How

many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book!”

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Press Release: 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Winner Announced!

The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is pleased and proud to announce the winner of the 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award for Young Adult Fiction.  Established in 2008 to honor the wishes of young adult author Amelia Elizabeth Walden, the award allows for the sum of $5,000 to be presented annually to the author of a young adult title selected by the ALAN Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Committee as demonstrating a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit.  

The 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Winner is:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (Dutton Books)

The 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award finalists are:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin AlireSáenz (Simon & Schuster)

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King (Little Brown and Company)

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)

All Walden Award titles will be identified by an award sticker—gold for the winner and silver for the four finalists. The winning title and finalists will be honored on Monday, November 25th at the 2013 ALAN Workshop in Boston, Massachusetts, and will be invited to participate in a panel discussion.

The 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Committee would like to thank: the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Foundation, the ALAN Executive Council, the ALAN Board of Directors, NCTE, and the thirty publishers who submitted titles for consideration.

The 2013 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award Committee considered nearly 350 young adult titles throughout the process.  The committee was comprised of eleven members representing the university, K-12 school, and library communities.  They are:

  • Lois Buckman, Committee Chair, Librarian, Caney Creek High School, Conroe, TX
  • Ricki Ginsberg, Past Committee Chair, Doctoral Student, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
  • Carolyn Angus, Director, George G. Stone Center for Children’s Books, Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA
  • Jonatha Basye, Teacher/Librarian, Bryan Elementary, Hampton, VA
  • Paul Hankins, English Language & Composition, Silver Creek High School, Sellersburg, IN
  • Suzanne Metcalfe, Librarian, Dimond High School, Anchorage, Alaska
  • Mark Letcher, Assistant Professor English Education, Purdue University Calumet Hammond, IN
  • Kellee Moye, Classroom Teacher, Hunter’s Creek Middle School, Orlando, FL
  • Mindi Rench, Classroom Teacher, Northbrook Junior High School, Northbrook, IL
  • Lois Stover, Professor, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, St Mary’s City, MD
  • Diane Tuccillo, Teen Services Librarian, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO

For more information on the award, please visit ALAN Online: The Official Site of the Assembly on Literature for Adolescents.

Forgive Me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

The first day of school is imminent and this new YA book is one that I want to make sure all high school teachers place in their classroom library. What Speak did for awareness of sexual assault, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock will do for teen suicide and depression. It’s a must read for every teacher. It’s not an easy read by any means, but it is an important one.

It’s Leonard Peacock’s 18th birthday and he is prepared to end his life.  But before he does that he packs a gun in his backpack and makes a plan to kill his former best friend.  It’s about Leonard’s last day on earth and it’s intense, heartbreaking, and gut-wrenching. I won’t tell you more because you need to meet Leonard and get to know him in order to fully appreciate the story.

I read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock in one sitting and it was intense.  Quick’s writing will make you uncomfortable and you might want to put the book down.  Don’t.  It’s vital that you finish Leonard’s story and that you listen to all of the characters.  They are well-written and realistic– even the less-than-perfect characters.  There are no easy answers for Leonard or those around him, just like there are no easy answers in life.  And that’s why this book is so important.

 

A must-have for all high school libraries and a must-read for adults who work with teenagers.  Be aware that there are swear words liberally scattered throughout the pages, but they are important to the voice of the characters.  This is a book about very important issues- school violence, suicide, bullying– and those issues are life-altering.  The language fits and it’s appropriate.

Weekly Diigo Posts (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Weekly Diigo Posts (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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