Young Adult Lit/Crit

March 21, 2008

Upsetting Observation…

Filed under: Observations of Reading in Schools — kariredmond @ 8:26 pm

Just wanted to share a quick little note from a recent tour Erin and I received of Jamesville-Dewitt High School.  We were given the tour by our EDU 671 professor who also is the principal of JD HS, Paul Gasparini (really super guy, btw) and along the way we happened to stop into one of the classrooms so Paul could show us the types of updated technology used in each classroom by his teachers.  One particular classroom that we stopped in was an English 10 &11th grade room, and sure enough the technology was great, the room was updated, and it looked really efficient except for one thing… THERE WERE NO BOOKS!?! Erin and I both kind of gave each other “the look” and later recounted how astounded we were to realize that we were standing in a HS English classroom that did not have a classroom library of any sort! We both made a note that we would have to tattle to the YA lit class about this situation because it was so absurd!

So that is our tattle … for the bookless teacher in the random English classroom at J-D… umm WHAT?!




  1. Kari,

    Thanks for the blog about your trip! How disappointing and upsetting to hear bout this English classroom. Hands down, the classroom you visited is more technologically savvy than others (all students deserve access to such technology), but English class has been losing its primary purpose: to encourage and build avid readers. I feel as though the education system, particularly the English classroom, is in a paradox. Gain expensive technology in the classroom, then lose books. Education and resources should not be a trade-off. Something is seriously wrong with the way schools are managing their budget…


    Comment by jexter1 — March 21, 2008 @ 10:28 pm

  2. This story is de rigeur for all the classrooms I visit. If I do see bookcases with books in them it’s clear that it’s “window dressing” and that the books aren’t circulating. I happen to know a bit about the J.D. H.S. ELA curriculum and what I know has been deeply troubling. The middle school program is book-rich thanks to the chair, an extraordinary teacher. But when students get to the h.s. it’s very different. I’m not surprised by what you saw. One of the most effective strategies to encourage reading is to establish a book-rich environment in your classroom as “announcement” of your expectations that this is a reading/literate community. It’s important to have lots of different kinds of books so that ALL of your students can assume roles as readers. KES

    Comment by sunyprof — March 22, 2008 @ 7:44 am

  3. I like the idea of your classroom library being an “announcement” of expectations, I hadn’t thought of it that way until you mentioned it. After finishing Bradbury I feel even more passionate about my collection of books (just bought a new bookshelf because I have PILES (plural) of YA lit on the floor in front of my current full one)after the, even fictional, idea has been planted by Farhenheit that they could be taken away from me! I think I would be the lady that burned with her books!! Cannot wait to discuss this book with the class, and I now see why it was a great pic for “The Big Read” in Cortland.

    Comment by kariredmond — March 23, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

  4. This sounds familiar. The class I am observing at Corcoran has no books. I have also noticed English classrooms in the JD middle school that are noticibly dull. There’s no excuse. Why would kids get excited if the class doesn’t seem like a fun place to be?


    Comment by allison — March 23, 2008 @ 5:27 pm

  5. I’m surprised to hear this about JD Middle…hmmmm….K

    Comment by sunyprof — March 24, 2008 @ 8:39 am

  6. This is incredibly disturbing and perhaps helps to explain how I know several students at JD who are practically illiterate. What is the reasoning behind this madness?! You would think that English teachers would especially note the importance of a classroom library. Or at the very least, the teacher should have some of her favorite books out, as last semester I read about modeling for students–teachers as readers, and readers as teachers–which is a crucial way to get kids engaged with reading. While it is also critical to incorporate technology into classrooms and acknowledge other literacies, an English classroom without books is simply wrong. This also helps explain why so many of the freshman I tutor are shell-shocked when they get to college, and actually have to…READ?!?

    Such a sad story, especially for such a reputable school district in CNY, who should be leading by example.


    Comment by mandygrl101 — March 24, 2008 @ 11:35 am

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