In my last post, Teacher Resource: Independent Reading, I shared one of the writing prompts I have my students use when they finish a book from the realistic fiction genre. There are actually three writing prompts in all for that genre to match the three they are required to read (I'll post more later).
Because I believe my students should see as many adults reading as possible, and especially their teachers, I follow the same reading regimen as my students. I didn't plan on finishing all three realistic fiction books back to back, but that's only because I was sure Bridge to Terabithia was a fantasy.
Here's a few words about the first three reads of the school year:
Tinkers, by Paul Harding, was loaned to me by a fellow teacher. My goal is generally to stick to books that my students will pick up, or might want to pick up. However, when I started reading this one, I didn't want to put it down.
The story is centered around a man named George. He is just days from dying, and his ability to control his thoughts is all but gone. We learn about George's father and then his grandfather, and both histories highlight their paternal knack for failure, which is compounded by illness. And even though George is the main character, the portions about his father, who is a poet and epileptic, are what kept me attached to this story. With a delightful and beautiful style, Harding describes the plight of George's father, as well as his power of observation - which led me to believe that Harding is a poet himself. In fact, this is one I'll read again.
My Side of the Mountain, by Jean George, is quite a different book. Like I said, I want to read books my students will be likely to read. The story is very straightforward: Sam, an early teen, wants to get away from his crowded home and return to his grandfather's failed homestead to prove he can survive on the land.
In short, as the author states in the introduction to the second edition, Sam carries out what every boy dreams of doing. In fact, he does what I would like to do as a grown man - he uses his book knowledge (yes, my lovely 7th graders, books contain recipes for adventure!) and makes himself a tree-home, hunts with a falcon, and makes his own deerskin clothes. The book is filled with sketches that detail certain plants Sam eats, as well as some of his projects. This is one I'll be reading to my own boys.
Bridge to Terabithia fully expecting a fantasy, which just may be my favorite genre. I can't really say I was disappointed, just wanting to escape to another world. However, as I read, I did escape with Jesse and Leslie to their kingdom in the woods.
Jesse comes from a family of sisters who mostly take advantage of him, and a father who ignores him, and Leslie has just moved to the area and has no friends. The two of them rely on one another for comfort, and Leslie introduces Jesse to the wonderful world of story through Terabithia. On more than one occasion this book brought tears to my eyes, and reminded me of my responsibility to lift my sons up - even as simply as paying attention to them.
Thanks for reading.