Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Helping Kids Choose Books

My mother sent me this great article on helping middle schoolers talk about books. Here's a taste of it:
Saricks suggests replacing the use of subject headings with something she calls “appeal terms,” essentially adjectives that effectively convey a reader’s reaction to certain elements of a book. The reason? They allow us to move away from plot summaries and help us to connect seemingly disparate titles by determining their common appeal.... Thanks to the work of all our language arts teachers, our students can now identify the pace, characterization, story line, and tone of a book. How’d we do it? We taught them to use an abbreviated list of Saricks’s adjectives, or appeal terms, that fall into each of the four categories. For example, for pacing, kids now often use words like “breakneck,” “engrossing,” “fast,” “relaxed,” and “unhurried.” For characterization, their go-to words include “familiar,” “multiple points of view,” “quirky,” “realistic,” and “well developed.” For story line, they take advantage of descriptions like “action oriented,” “character centered,” “violent,” “gentle,” “open-ended,” “thought provoking,” and “tragic.” And for tone, they might say “dark,” “edgy,” “hard edged,” “humorous,” “magical,” “romantic,” and “suspenseful.”
When kids can identify what it was they liked about a book, it's easier for them to find other books that share those characteristics. I love it.

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