Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 17, 2008

Thoughts on Lesesne

Filed under: Making the Match — Mandy @ 12:29 pm

I can relate to the emphasis on non-fiction in chapter 7. I am really interested in people and social injustices of the world, and I find that non-fiction often deals with both of these. I read a really interesting piece about Princess Diana, and am looking forward to reading Bushwacked as well, a story on George W. I also recently read Pornified, which I continue to recommend to people, as well as A World Apart, about the corruption and injustices women in prison endure. I also read Grisham’s The Innocent Man which deals with an actual murder case, his forte and a story entitled Smashed, about an SU sorority girl. One quote that struck me in particular in this chapter is when Lesense writes, “biographies and auto-biographies do not shy away from the truth even when the truth is less than flattering” (91).And as Crutcher mentioned the other night, I don’t think that the truth is something we confront often enough. But as Lesesne also points out, it took me a while to want to read and appreciate non-fiction. I also love historical fiction, and have read many of the titles that Lesesne mentions in chapter 7. There is so much to be learned and so many fascinating things about history, it seems like a great place to direct adolescent readers.I loved historical fiction as a teen, especially Number the Stars and stories about the Salem Witch trials. I like that Lesesne makes the connection between the social studies classroom and the English classroom, an important connection to recognize and to constantly make. Further nonfiction is about real people and real events and a lot can be learned from the trials and tribulations of others. As Lesene writes, “biographies and autobiographies can make history come alive for contemporary readers who are much more centered in the now” and I think this is very important, especially for those who many not enjoy historical fiction, since there is something for everyone.As I was reading chapter 8, I began to question how I feel about reading aloud to students, especially high school students. I think it is acceptable sometimes in a middle school classroom. I know I love reading to my 4 year old sister, and she loves it to… and I really don’t like audio books, at least not for me.However, if I think it could get the interest of my students or help ESL, I would use read-alouds and audio books. But, if the research shows that this is a motivational factor in getting students to read, I will definitely look into it these techniques and try and move outside my personal comfort zone for the benefit of my students. I do like that these aren’t usually used on a daily basis, and this makes me more inclined to use read-alouds or audio books. I also like the “read and tease” activity because it seems like such a great way to do a mini-book talk.On the other hand, I am really excited to do booktalks! I think I may try one in my middle school with drama high…so the notes that I took on that book will definitely come in handy! I know that booktalks will be a staple in my classroom– something I do regularly.In chapter ten I really liked a lot of the ideas presented. Free reading Fridays– or SSR is so important, but I would use it more than once a week. I think some time everyday can and should be dedicated to SSR. I also want to try asking the kids in my host class “if there was a perfect book for you what would it be like?” — especially since I am doing a student teaching placement here next fall!Pecks questions are also awesome and seem very useful. The book pass seems cool to, it reminds me of speed dating, only with books! Although Lesesne acknowledges at the end of the chapter that these are just a few of the strategies, I am thrilled that they seem useful and practical, and I am also excited to see what else is out there, if these only represent a mere few.-Mandy



  1. Mandy,

    You focus on some really important issues here. I agree with Lesesne’s take on the importance of using non-fiction titles in the classroom. I’ve had so many students who wouldn’t pick up a novel, but would gladly pick up a biography or
    autobiography on a person of interest. As Lesesne has said over and over again, we need to get to know our
    students in order to find out what and who they are interested in, and then match the book to the student.


    Comment by scrollman — March 17, 2008 @ 1:05 pm

  2. Mandy,Thanks for starting up the conversation on this. I agree with you and Jonathan about nonfiction. I believe there are many students (as well as adults!) who don’t care much for novels but simply DEVOUR nonfiction! Be it a how-to book, a historical book, a book about science, a biography, an article, etc., there’s usually something for everyone! Personally, I generally prefer novels, but have recently turned towards biography and memoir. I think it’s important to open up our reluctant students to nonfiction, and satisfy those who already love it! I have included quite a few nonfiction titles in my seminar about 9/11 and it’s aftermath, and I think the nonfiction are the most powerful titles! So come to my seminar to learn about teaching nonfiction, among other things! (shameless promotion!)I also have to say something about the audio-books, since I have so often experienced them! I was substituting again today and witnessed the tragedy in TWO different English classes. It makes me sad! In one of the classes, a girl asked if they could read on their own. But most of the students prefer to listen, and let the machine do the work for them. The teachers always oblidge. I know listening is important, but so is reading, and the students don’t seem to even be paying attention to the tape. Finally I want to respond to the SSR thing. I LOVE when SSR is done as a whole-school activity. I know some schools have SSR time first thing in the morning, or provide an extra period for reading. Raph was just talking about this for AED 669, because it happens at the school he is observing. Raph, do the students get into it? Do they like it? It’s something I will certainly include in my classroom. Allison

    Comment by allison — March 19, 2008 @ 4:14 pm

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