Thursday, March 27, 2014

Contemporary realism in the classroom (Jennifer R. Hubbard)

I belong to a group of fellow writers in the mid-Atlantic region, the Kidlit Authors Club. We have put together a website for educators, showing how our books can be used in the classroom. All three of my YA novels (The Secret Year, Try Not to Breathe, and Until It Hurts to Stop) are listed on our YA page. Also linked from that page are the reader guides I’ve prepared for my books, which list the Common Core standards they are aligned with.

tsy pb frontcoverTNTB thumbnail2     untilithurtstostopcover

My books are contemporary, realistic YA. The first two are typically recommended for ages 14+; Until It Hurts to Stop, which deals with bullying, is typically listed for ages 12+.

I’ve done several different kinds of school visits. My favorite is visiting with student book clubs. I love to hear what readers think about the books. What do they see as the theme? If they didn’t like the ending, how would they have had it end? What do they think the main character’s choices mean? To me, that’s the great value of having book discussions. Readers don’t just passively absorb a book; they compare it to their own experience, they weigh the characters’ actions, they root for certain outcomes, they try to predict what will happen or understand why things went the way they did. They think about what they would have done in a similar situation. They argue with one another and, in doing so, use analytical and persuasive skills; they use evidence to support their conclusions.

Sometimes at book clubs, readers will start talking about the characters as if they are real people. That’s when I know I’ve reached them!

4 comments:

  1. This was a very helpful post, Jennifer! Thank you. I'm just starting to do library and school visits and I like the idea of a book club visit. I'm going to suggest that when schools contact me. How did you identify the Common Core standards your books are aligned to?

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    1. Tiffany Schmidt helped me with that. You basically look at the standards and identify which of them are met by your reader-guide questions + activities (or you can go the other way, and tailor your guide to fit the standards).
      The standards are all on the Common Core website. For example, here's the link to the 9th + 10th grades "Reading-literature" standards:
      http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/

      And an example would be: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9 is, "Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare)." So let's say your book was based on a myth or fairy tale. Your reader guide could mention that and invite the reader to identify the parallels between your book and that myth, and then you could list ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9 as one of the standards you're aligned with.

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  2. LOVE what you say about reading being anything but a passive experience.

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  3. Going to book clubs are the best! There are not the same restraints as in classroom reading lists and you can truly reach kids that way. Great!

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