Best practices for teaching K-12 reading/writing.

Great Novels

Ray Dorso Director of Special Services, New Milford School District

I love to see students really engaged in a great novel! Please share any novels or any other great reads(other than the classics) that you have used with your students. Include why you think the novel is great.

Two factors I look for in a novel is relevancy and/or the ability to strongly connect to another content area. Below is a list of some novels that I have used with significant success.

Feed by M.T. Anderson: About teenagers in the future that have internet "feeds" implanted in their head. High school level, students loved it.

House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer: We used this book at the h.s. level and connected it to our science classes when they covered cloning and genetics.

A few at the middle school level with great relevancy (these were used in an urban school district with great success!):
The Skin I'm In by Sharon Flake; Forged by Fire by Sharon Draper; and Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick.

Lastly, a great resource to find similar books is This site has what they call the ultimate reading list that gives a brief paragraph description of tons of great novels. There is also a

Thanks, Ray

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high school alternative education English teacher

Book for reluctant struggling readers

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Getting my ninth graders to read is always a struggle, but year after year I can always count on Bearstone by Will Hobbs to get my kids motivated to read. Bearstone tells the story of a young Native American boy who repeatedly runs away from his group home and life's challenges. He is sent to a widowed rancher's farm for the summer where he learns the power of friendship, loyalty, and trust. It's a great book to teach students numerous themes such as with the help of a good friend and solid commmunication, anything is possible.

Many of my students have spent time in group homes and are inclined to run from their problems instead of facing them head on with the help of friend(s), so they can relate to the main character, Cloyd. We have powerful discussions in class about similarities between their personal experiences and reactions and Cloyd's. This is a book I highly recommend!

Mother of boy/girl twin 4th graders and a boy in sixth grade, Fall 2012

Great Novels

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There are so many. Red Midnight, Call it Courage, and Island of the Blue Dolphins are all survival stories and geography and culture could be tied in.
I've written a page at Squidoo where I'm trying to have people add and vote up or down books to create a page with really good books for teens.
I encourage everyone to stop by and vote up or down books and add your own suggestions.

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