Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Kids these days...."

Okay, so the other day I started my lesson working through some of HAMLET, and I discovered that most of them hadn't read the previous night. Okay, it's HAMLET, even for academic level Seniors, it can be difficult. The problem is that some of them hadn't been reading their assignments on a semi-regular basis. So I asked why.

Because they don't read at all, some said. And a few even said they don't see the point, because they don't plan to go to college, so why bother?

And yet they watch movies all the time because they "love a really good story."

Ugh. This drives me nuts, and I doubt I'm alone in this. They want a story, but according to many of them, they like the blockbusters where they don't have to actually think. Now understand, this isn't all of my students. Not even a majority. But it was enough that it concerned me.

Many hadn't read a book for pleasure (rather than for school) in over a year. And in quite a few cases, I had to discuss what movies they liked to figure out the kind of story they might find interesting. Wanna know why? Because when I asked, many of them said they would have no idea where to start in a bookstore to find the kind of books they might like.

Let me repeat that. They had no idea what GENRE they might like, and where to find it in bookstores. So I did what I could to help, but I wanted to open this up to you guys to give me more suggestions. As far as movies, they named everything, including sci-fi, fantasy, thriller, historical fiction, romance, mystery, military, etc.

So if you were to recommend books/authors in any of those genres to a high school senior who desperately needs to read something interesting (to get them back into it), what or who would it be? Any suggestions welcome, give 'em your best shot!!


Jeff Shelby said...

Oh dude. I could go on for hours about frustrating.

For guys - The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy, I Love You Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle (tell them Doyle was a writer for The Simpsons), A Drink Before The War by Dennis Lehane, Looking For Alaska by John Green, Paper Towns by John Green, Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler. There's also a book called If I Don't Six by Elwood Reid that is pretty good for your jocks that don't wanna read.

For girls - Both of the Green books, The Tribes of Palos Verdes by Joy Nicholson, Devilish by Maureen Johnson, To The Power of Three by Laura Lippman.

That is obviously an incredibly short list and you're probably aware of all of those books. The good thing about most of the authors is that if your students find something they like, most of these writers have at least a few other books that might draw them in.

I used to make my students create soundtracks for novels they didn't want to read - they had to come up with 8-10 songs, burn them to a CD, create liner notes, then explain why they chose those songs and how they related to the text, either to a specific scene or thematically. It was a way to get them to read books they had to read but didn't want to and they'd end up engaging more than they probably wanted to.

I also used to include Anthony Kiedis in poetry units and have them dissect Red Hot Chili Peppers songs. Amazing how music - at least in my experience - would get them to engage more than any other single thing.

I was ALWAYS looking for something outside the box to get them interested. It's exhausting...but I don't need to tell you that:)

jnantz said...

I love the soundtrack idea, Mr. Shelby, and thanks for stopping by! I might have to steal that one for 1984 (most of them want to read it anyway, but I love the idea and the reasoning behind it).

As far as Anthony Kedis with poetry, I've done the same thing in the past with Ulrich and Hetfields' lyrics, and they enjoyed it.

As far as the books, I will definitely make my students aware of them. Great suggestions all!

Jacqueline Carney said...

Absolutely 'The Story of Edgar Sawtelle' a Hamlet rewrite.

I 'met' you on Murderati!

jnantz said...

Ms. Carney,
Thanks for stopping by! I knew Oprah was in love with Edgar Sawtelle, but had no idea it was inspired by HAMLET. I'll definitely let my kids know!

Rachel Prather said...

Dan Brown would be good for some of them. And go with Jonathan (and Faye) Kellerman and Jack Kerley for your murder mystery fans! Nevada Barr is also a great author, especially her novels with the crime-solving female protagonist Anna Pigeon.

Anonymous said...

As a former Nantz student, I can remember Hamlet, and I can remember being self-motivated to read it and look up criticism of it outside of class. My degree and license will be in Social Studies, but I've thought about going back for the MA in Literature. So, I get worried about the possibility of teaching Hamlet too. I really thought that in your class the cross-study with "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern..." was great, and the other Stoppard "15 Minute Hamlet". Are there other high school appropriate connections? Have you read Muller's "Hamletmachine"? I bet high school students wouldn't be terribly involved in that. But I commend you for teaching it nonetheless, I heard other teachers don't even try it. - Chris Blakley