Out of the Mouths of Babes

by Mary Rehmann
Published on: May 23, 2012
Categories: Other Topics
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Comments: 1 Comment

This month each of my thirty seventh-grade students selected a novel from roughly 10 options to read and discuss in small groups.   I’m amazed each time I do this because, regardless of the novels I select, inevitably the students end up split fairly evenly into groups of three or four.  I’d like to own to being just-that-good at knowing the literary needs of my students, but, in fact, I believe it’s due more to the wide-ranging tastes of these middle-grade-bordering-on-YA readers.  Many of them will go on to read most of the other novels over the summer; they’re hungry to read and willing to follow an author almost anywhere.

Every now and again I ask myself what it is they want more of.  (And then I remind myself not to end a sentence in a preposition.  Then I write a lesson plan on prepositions.)  So today, I asked them what they want to read over the summer, and here are their responses:

  • More books with strong male AND female main characters
  • More action/adventure books
  • More romance, less sex (Okay, I DO teach in a Catholic school)
  • Less romance (virtually every boy in the classroom)
  • Bibliographies that sound more like novels
  • Shorter time between series books
  • More scary, but not too scary, books
  • Biographies about athletes
  • Books that work in some sort of sport (“Athletes like to read, too, you know.”)
  • More comedies or books that are funny/humorous
  • Mysteries
  • Factual history books (esp. on war, hunting, sports)
  • Books that explain phenomena
  • Stories where a character clearly grows or changes (it’ll make writing essays easier!)
  • Books that explore friendships and how they change
  • How to books (on art, writing, songwriting)

Write on.

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1 Comment - Leave a comment
  1. Sabina I. Rascol says:

    Thanks for sharing this list, Mary, with information straight from representatives of our audience! Let’s see…

    Two of my waiting works-in-progress have a male AND a female main characters, adventures, and, well, yes, romance, too. And the novel I’m actively writing has a character who grows, as well as friendships that change. It’s good to know these books should be welcomed. To work, then!

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