Tuesday, April 29, 2014

If You Give a Teen a Book


Reading is magic. Reading transports us from our humdrum, everyday life to places we’ve never been before: some places that we long to visit and other  places that exist only in the fairy castles of our imaginations. In the reading of nonfiction, knowledge miraculously jumps from the mind of the author into our waiting crania.

W. Somerset Maugham said, “To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.” Sadly, some of the people most in need of this refuge never develop that habit.

Here at Commonplace Crazy I sometimes often generally grouse about my students and their lack of study habits and their atrocious behavior. I trust that my readers understand that this is not because I don’t care about my students. It’s precisely because I do care about the children entrusted to my care that I find the difficulties in teaching them to be so exasperating.

One of my greatest areas of dismay is getting them to develop a habit of reading. I know that if I could just find the right book, I could hook Antonio so that he wouldn’t fall asleep on the second page of every book. Antonio’s problem is not a lack of ability; it’s a lack of interest. No one has shown him the right book that will unlock its magic for him, turning him into a lifelong reader.

So why don’t I just show Antonio the right book, along with Destiny, Gurpreet, Levi, Chelsea, and Alyssa? Because it takes searching through piles of books to find just the right book for each child, and access to books is a problem.

I teach in a school with 1300 students. Our library was built when the student population was much smaller, and it struggles just to have enough books for each student check one out. Due to budget cuts, many of our books are old and not relevant to today’s student.

Over the years I have used my own money to keep my classroom library full, but students lose books, or the books just wear out. Right now, my library looks like this. 


The books on the top shelf are what I have available for my students to check out. This after I have spent several hundred dollars in the last two months.

On top of everything else, our school library has already closed for the year due to various causes. This row of books is the only resource many of my students have now. This has to serve as literary food for my gluttonous readers as well as those who don’t know they’re starving to death.

By now I’m hoping some of you are wondering how you can help. If you’re not already wondering, I’m begging you to please consider helping. Here’s how.

I have set up a wishlist at Amazon. If you could purchase just one book from the list for my classroom, my students and I would greatly appreciate it. Just follow this link to make your purchase, and the book will come directly to me. You don’t even have to worry about a trip to the post office!

The link is:

Thank you from Mrs. Meents and her junior high students.

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