As a teacher and a mom, I have long held the belief that kids need the freedom to choose their own reading material in order for them to develop a lif...moreAs a teacher and a mom, I have long held the belief that kids need the freedom to choose their own reading material in order for them to develop a lifelong love of reading. This book not only confirms that belief, but also supports it with research and survey results from young readers.
I know when I was in high school I hated being assigned books to read for class, and would often find ways to get around actually reading it - even though I was an avid reader. Now, as a mother of two teens and an 11 year-old, I see the same reluctance to read school-assigned books in my own kids. I have to hound my oldest daughter all summer long to read the assigned books, even though she can sit down and devour a novel of her choice in a day. As a teacher, I understand the need for students to read complex texts, especially in light of the academic expectations and demands of the Common Core standards, but there has got to be a better way to engage and guide students toward a deeper intellectual connection with literature without completely distinguishing a child's love of reading.
Reading Unbound presents the research and findings of Jeffrey D. Wilhelm and Michael W. Smith that support the idea that kids need to have freedom of choice in what they read in order to develop a love of reading and also to promote a deeper understanding of texts that they personally connect to. A substantial portion of their findings came from adolescent readers whom they surveyed about their reading habits, preferences, and their comprehension and connection to the texts they read by choice and those that they were assigned. As you can imagine, students preferred to read books of their choosing rather than those that they were assigned, but what was most compelling about their research was the amount of intellectual work and pleasure that these kids derived from reading books that we might look on as not being "academic." Not only were they enjoying the books at face value, but they went deeper with the texts - connecting ideas and situations to their own lives - and used the story as a way to develop their own sense of themselves.
As a teacher, one of the ideas that I liked the best was using the older classics as a way to connect to popular literature of today and explore the changing (and sometimes persistent) values and beliefs of the past versus the present. Even though this book was aimed at teachers of adolescent readers, I can still apply it to how I approach the teaching of literacy to my younger students.(less)
I read this aloud to my third graders and they thought it was absolutely hilarious! Their only complaint - too many "big" words! I liked that they wer...moreI read this aloud to my third graders and they thought it was absolutely hilarious! Their only complaint - too many "big" words! I liked that they were exposed to so many new words - in fact, we made a game of it! Whenever we came across a particularly perplexing word, I had the students write it in their notebooks. Whoever took the time to look it up in the dictionary and bring the definition with them the next day earned a point for their team. They loved the competition, and I loved that they were honing their dictionary skills and broadening their vocabulary! It was a great story - the characters were a hoot and the story was very funny!(less)
I read this aloud to my third graders and I can honestly say that this book had us roaring with laughter at some points, and choking back tears at oth...moreI read this aloud to my third graders and I can honestly say that this book had us roaring with laughter at some points, and choking back tears at others. I would recommend this book to anyone - regardless of age - who loves animals and genuinely good storytelling. (less)
I won a copy of this book in a giveaway contest hosted by the publisher.
After reading the first installment of this series, Poison Princess, I was eag...moreI won a copy of this book in a giveaway contest hosted by the publisher.
After reading the first installment of this series, Poison Princess, I was eager to continue along with these characters to see where their adventure would lead next. The story is about a Southern teen named Evie Green who discovers that she has supernatural powers after an apocalyptic event called the Flash has wiped out most of modern civilization. Evie is actually an Arcana called the Empress, based on the characters represented on Tarot cards. She discovers that she will have to literally fight for her life in a battle to the death with all of the other Arcana cards. In her quest to find her grandmother, an Arcana chronicler, in an attempt to learn more about her alter-ego, Evie teams up with Jackson Deaveaux, a handsome, non-Arcana, Cajun bad-boy. Along the way Evie and Jackson form an alliance with other Arcana teens in hopes of surviving these deadly games. Not only do they have to contend with extreme conditions, such as the fact that there are Bagmen (zombie-like creatures) and cannibals just lying in wait to kill them, but Evie is being actively pursued by Death, the reigning champion of these games. While her feelings for Jackson grow stronger by the day, Evie cannot helped but be confused by Death's threats and his thinly-veiled desire for her.
While I have really enjoyed this series so far, I struggle to give it a higher rating than 3*. I like the characters and I like the action, especially when Evie goes into Empress-mode, but the writing and the dialogue is just okay. I have to keep in mind that this is a YA book, but I have a hard time stomaching words like "dafuq" and all the talk about Death staring at her rear when she is in a life-or-death situation. That said, I think it is a fun series and I have enjoyed the story so far. I will most likely read the next book in the series to find out how the games end...and who Evie chooses to be with. (less)