Sunday, March 7, 2010

8th grade reading list

The random things that take up my thoughts . . . the perfect reading list.

You see, I've taught a different grade level every year. For student teaching I taught 12th graders literature and 11th graders writing. Then at Dunbar I taught 10th grade, then 9th grade. Now I'm at 8th. There seems to be a pattern of descent here.

Anyway, each year I lay in bed at night planning what the perfect reading list would be for the next year. This obviously never comes to fruition due to my grade changes. Plus, the school I'm at right now already has a reading list set in stone. Regardless, I'd like to share with you what I think the PERFECT 8th grade reading list would be. Go ahead and challenge yourself with each of these books. You won't regret it.

Preface to my list: 8th graders typically study US history. Naturally, all the books are "American." But you better believe I refuse to represent a single race more than once, so you still get lots of diversity.

Start the year with The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter (18th century, settlers and Indians story . . . I LOVED it in the 9th grade, but haven't read it since . . . still I'd teach it). Then move onto Copper Sun by Sharon Draper (FABULOUS teaching novel, Draper was a teacher for like 20 years . . . told by indentured servant and African Slave captured from Nigeria, 18th century again). Right before Winter break I'd probably pop out The House on Mango Street or The Outsiders. Two books all 8th graders should read. (Although, I need to read When I was Puerto Rican - and see if I'd like to use that as my Hispanic novel instead of Mango). I'd start the new year with which ever novel I didn't read before the break. Then move on to Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Watsuki Houston and husband. I realize this leaves only two books from Jan - May, but I'd have one unit where students could pick a book of their choice (probably from a reading list I created) while we study short stories or something fun. I think it's important kids get to read books simply because they want to. Not to mention, you have to include a unit where the students create their own TIME magazines (this project actually works lovely for any grade, easy to adapt).

I really have loved 8th grade. But I've loved every grade I've taught, and I've stayed up late dreaming about the perfect reading list for every grade.

My favorite book to teach so far this year has been Animal Farm. It's a deep one that 8th graders can easily get into. However, I really think it works better when your students are studying world history. Plus, I love to follow it up with Elie Wiesel's Night (which we are doing right now). Night has been taught to 8th graders before, and I'm sure it will continue to be taught at that grade, but I just really believe 8th graders should read YA books. Neither Night nor Animal Farm were written with a 14-year-old audience in mind. They work just fine for that age, but I'd stick them with high schoolers, studying world history.

Next . . . my 10th grade reading list (since I think 8th and 10th grade are the best reading lists I've ever dreamed up).

1 comment:

Scott and Claudia said...

Sis, if I can ever finish Huckleberry Finn I will check out one of yours! You make them sound wonderful to read. Mom

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