In conjunction with my book a week challenge for 2012, I’m adding ISLMA’s Abraham Lincoln nominees to the list. This is the Illinois School Library Media Association’s annual award for YA literature. Each year, twenty-two books are nominated. Who picks the winner? Readers in Illinois schools, grades 9-12, do! James Dashner’s The Maze Runner was the 2012 winner.
Even if your school doesn’t participate in the voting, you can still integrate the list into your curriculum. I’ve seen an explosion of reading in my classes since beginning daily I.R. Because I teach A.P. Literature, I think my students have joined me in my YA love because young adult literature is a welcome break from the college level material we read and dissect in class. While my students have been participating in blogging their book reviews on our English department’s ning, getting involved with the Abraham Lincoln nominee list seems like a exciting next step, especially since the 22 book list covers a variety of genres within YA, from non-fiction, to realistic fiction, to fantasy and paranormal. While I don’t want to narrow my students’ choices when it comes to independent reading, promoting the Abe list is a good way to foster connections within the classroom as well as among other classes within my own English department and beyond. A couple of my colleagues (who are also fantastic edu-bloggers–see here and here), started an English department ning, available to those of us who wanted to join. While only a handful of us are currently using the ning, we’ve also welcomed a teacher and school from another part of the state, and the connections being made among students who are hundreds of miles apart is pretty inspiring.
Sure, in addition to independent reading, I do teach whole class novels. Right now it is the nature of A.P., but I hope to bring more choice into the course in the future. For now, the choice comes from what my students read for fun. This choice breeds an infectious enthusiasm, and it’s here that I see my students truly connecting. When a student comes into my classroom raving about The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green and thanking me for lending out my signed copy, that precious treasure does not even see its way back to my hands because another student snatches it up. A week later they can OMG about the book together or on the ning with others who have read it. It is as if my students are creating their own little book clubs, and it’s never too late to join. Just read the book!
THAT is what I hope to do with the 2013 Abraham Lincoln nominee list. None of the titles will be required reading, but by recommending this core list, I hope to see the emergence of more spontaneous book clubs in the few minutes before the bell rings each day…or even spilling over into class time…just a little bit.
Please come back and check my progress on my Abe Lincoln page. As I finish books off the list, I will write my own mini reviews. If you live in Illinois and either participate in the Abe voting or just want to try to incorporate the list into your class, feel free to use my reviews to book talk the list. If you already use the Abes in your class, please let me know what you do. It’s not August yet, so I still have time to plan. Even if you don’t live in Illinois, here is a great book list to offer recommendations to your students!
Wish me luck. Five down, seventeen to go!
Currently reading Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta