A New Dimension

So this blog began as a way to celebrate the avid readers in my 7th grade reading class at KIPP Infinity Charter School. Kids would read nightly (as is expected of every child) and instead of completing the traditional homework on a worksheet, these kiddoes had the opportunity to blog about their reading. The original blogging invitation was sent out to about 18 kids, and it began with a huge bang in my class a few months ago.

Overall, the blog was a success for approximately 50% of the KIPPster-guinea pigs that initiated the project. However, it took a backseat as the holidays approached and as we dove into other important work, such as research projects and the reading of a tough, but beautiful text, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith.

Today marks the beginning of a new dimension of our middle school reading blog, thanks to yesterday’s snow day and Ms. Stabookski’s inability to read only one book at a time. Over the past 24 hours, I have cracked open several young adult titles, including Before I Die by Jenny Downham, The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan. In browsing through these books, I was reminded of my literary upbringing and the careful way in which my mother directed my reading and nurtured a love of books in me from age 4. She has a very strong opinion about most things in life, especially books, and she carefully helped me craft my tastes and choices as I grew up and attacked volume after volume of children, middle grades and young adult literature until I finally went off to college and began to make my own recommendations to her. Her love of reading was contagious and I caught that bug shortly after abandoning diapers. Remembering this left me wondering, how did she do that? And more importantly, how can I foster that same love of reading in my 65 kiddoes?

That’s what I’m going to try to do with this blog, starting now. The mission of this blog is to read and review all kinds of middle grade and young adult literature, as a teacher, and as students. We’ll post our thoughts and we’ll begin to create a definition of what makes high quality writing truly wonderful. Today, we are going to begin to write about GREAT literature, thinking about what makes what my mom would call “real literature” and what makes “junk literature”…

So what does make “real literature”? Well, let’s find out…

And let’s begin with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

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