After a rocky start, which I’m not really going to talk about here — I’ve done enough frustrated complaining about the issues — our Book of the Month initiative is in full swing. This month, we’re reading Wonder by R. J. Palacio as a way to connect with Bullying Awareness Month. The accompanying question asks readers to think about a single character and how that character demonstrates the precept Choose Kind throughout the novel. The response that have been turned in so far have been awesome.
In September, there were 16 responses turned in, most submitted at the end of the month. We’re only halfway through October, and already there have been three Golden Tickets (I had Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory stuck in my head when trying to decide what to call the extra credit slip) delivered, and there are more assignments waiting for me in the library.
Since the books were catalogued, we’ve had a hard time keeping them on the shelf, which I think is fantastic. When I left yesterday, there were two, and they’ll most likely be checked out tomorrow. What I’m getting from this is that even if the students don’t turn in the assignment that accompanies Book of the Month, there are still a lot of kids reading, which is what we want.
Initially there were concerns about participation. We wondered if only the high achieving students would participate; they’re the kids who always participate. But I’ve had a number of students talk to me about when the Tickets go out because they’re concerned about their grades and want to make sure they have the extra credit in case they need it.
Teachers have been great about promoting Book of the Month as well, encouraging students to participate and not being irritated when I interrupt their second hour class on Fridays to deliver Tickets. I try to not be intrusive, but one of the ways to involve more students is to start the conversation between students about why they’ve received a gold sheet of paper in the middle of class (sorry!).
Bottom line, so far I think this initiative is working famously. Kids are talking about reading, they have a commonplace book they can talk about each month, and connections can be made between the content classes and young adult fiction.