Chasing Ray suggested that we break up the end of winter doldrums by highlighting a book that we loved. In her post, she gives the image of leaning “over the fence” to tell your neighbor about that fantastic book you just read. In my head, I pictured leaning over one of my student’s desks and whispering about that book that I just read and know they will love, while the rest of the class is in the reading zone. So, I decided to take my Over the Fence post in a slightly different direction- highlighting the books my students are reading right now that didn’t necessarily get the starred reviews or the blogosphere raves. But the are books my students are reading and talking about, and I love them! So here is my latest installment of Hot Books in my Classroom: Over the Fence Edition.
Tween romance novels are all the rage in my room, and the girls in my homeroom are devouring each novel before passing it their group of friends. The latest favorite? Don’t Die, My Love by Lurlene McDaniel. I remember my McDaniel stage- it drove my mother nuts. She couldn’t understand why I wanted to read so many books about kids my own age dying of terminal illnesses. But because I went through that stage, I totally understand why my girls can’t put Don’t Die, My Love down. It’s full of romance, star-crossed teens, and you know the one of the main characters is going to die. It’s the perfect recipe for tweens. Plus, no matter what the books always have an uplifting and positive message at the end.
While a lot of my girls are passing around Lurlene McDaniel, a group of my boys are currently sharing Ten True Tales: Stories from Iraq. (I can’t find it online, so it may just be available through Scholastic.) Every story in this non-fiction book is taken from interviews with men and women who have served in Iraq. War stories are a huge hit in my room and this one really attracts a lot of my boys because it is so timely. And when they can’t get their hands on this one, they are reading Guys Write for Guys Read: Boys’ Favorite Authors Write About Being Boys. The short stories from the author’s remind them of Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing up Scieszka, which they loved. Short stories, specifically memoirs, are really popular with my boys this year.
At this point in the year, my students are usually comfortable making recommendations to me, too. This week, two of my girls highly recommended two of Nora Raleigh Baskin’s book, which I hadn’t read. They are reading What Every Girl (Except Me) Knows and In the Company of Crazies. Coincidentally, I had just picked up Anything But Typical at the bookstore and decided to add it to my wishlist. I didn’t make the author connection until my students’ made their recommendations! Now I am looking forward to reading all three books (when they are done with the first two!) I love when my students lean over the fence and make their recommendations; it continues to build that reading community that I work so hard to build and maintain each year!
Really, over the fence recommendations are my bread and butter in the classroom. Whether I am the one making the recommendation, or it’s being done student-to-student, or if a student is making the recommendation to me- word of mouth propels every book choice in my classroom until students are comfortable with their own choices. And even then, they are constantly sharing books with each other and with me. It’s awesome!